Question about Sheep

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    Does anybody here have advice for the best way to deal with a ram who likes to butt humans?  He doesn’t do it all the time but occasionally gets aggressive, or playful, or whatever he thinks he’s doing.  In my opinion, it is stupid to annoy the person who is bringing hay and grain to feed the flock, but I’m not a sheep!

    I have just come back from “critter-sitting” while my son and his family were on vacation.  The ram was fine for most of the time and then started acting up the last two days.  I have no idea why, so any information is welcome.


    I tend to avoid sheep, but here is some information from a quick google search.

    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.

    Classic head butting among rams is highest during the rutting season which precedes 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.


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    Thanks.  Interesting about not scratching or petting on the head, and I definitely agree about not turning your back!


    Rams are a force of nature.  My ram was always nice to us, but plowed into our vet once. He also smashed  and bent the crap out of  our barn stalls.  He wasn’t  a very big ram either! I can only imagine what a 2o0 pound ram could do.

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