Marcus
Katahdin yearling ram


Dorper ram
3/4 White Dorper ram

Boys will be boys
Young Katahdin males

    Ouch!

    Natural and learned behavior
    Head butting is both a natural and learned behavior in sheep. Contestive head butting is a carry-over from when sheep ran wild and from those that still do. Since only the dominant rams get to mate with the ewes, rams must fight to earn this privilege.


    Rutting
    Classic head butting among rams is highest during the rutting season which preceeds the onset of estrus activity in ewes. It is a way for rams to get into physical shape for the breeding season and to establish (or re-establish) the dominance hierarchy.



    Establishing a social order
    Sheep are the classical flocking animal. They work out a social order by head butting, poking with horns, shoulder pushing, blocking, and mounting. This is seen most clearly in rams who back off, then charge, meeting head-to-head with a large bang.


    Discourage butting
    Rams begin to butt at a young age.  To discourage butting, you should avoid petting or scratching a ram on the head. The ram may see this as a challenge or aggressive behavior. To a ram, a person is part of the flock and he wants to dominate.

    It can be difficult to stop an aggressive ram from butting. Striking him may make him more aggressive or cause him injury. Spraying water on the ram's face may dissuade him from butting. You can put a mask on the ram to keep him from butting. The mask blocks his side vision. Sometimes, the best course of action is to cull a ram that is overly aggressive.


    Never turn your back on a ram
    No matter how friendly a ram may seem, he should never be trusted. You should never turn your back on a ram. Ram can cause serious injury to you and other sheep.


    <== ABOUT SHEEP



Last updated 29-May-2011
Copyright© 2011. Sheep 101