Fencing issues: Why should I keep rams separate from ewes

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by sbanks, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. sbanks

    sbanks Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    388
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I have icelandic am getting merinos.

    Tell me why i should, if i should, keep rams separate from the ewes. Range flocks don't.:huh:

    I plan to keep icelandic separate from merino so no cross breeding, unless i choose to.
     
  2. Our Little Farm

    Our Little Farm Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    You may get two lambings a year if you don't, depending on your ewes cycle.
    Our ram is with our ewes at all times, he is protective of them and lays with the lambs. He is not aggressive at all towards us.
    I have lived on huge sheep farms that kept the rams with the ewes at all times.
     

  3. sbanks

    sbanks Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    388
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    two lambings a year sounds like a good idea to me as long as the ewes are in good condition.
     
  4. Our Little Farm

    Our Little Farm Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    We are having two lambings this year. Our ewes have just been checked by our vet and they are in top condition. :)
     
  5. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    16,464
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    SW Michigan
    I think there are several reasons to keep them separate. My rams are really nice - until the ewes go into heat....then it can be a real problem. Even now, if I walk around with the ewes, the ram is my constant companion- showing me who's boss. Since I don't want babies in Jan - I'll keep them separate to try to prevent that. Mine are Finns and they are supposedly out of season breeders - they are also smaller so they aren't the physical threat a 300 lb ram would be. Also- if you have more than on ram and want to choose who breeds what ewe, you keep them separate. So mostly, for the convenience of the shepard. Other breeds may have other reasons though.
     
  6. VA Shepherd

    VA Shepherd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    505
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    Those are my main reasons, too. Also, my goal is to milk them, so I need to have them lamb at specific intervals. And I spend a lot of time with my girls, socializing lambs and scratching backs, etc., and being rammed in the process isn't much fun! I've heard some people say that the rams can pester the ewes so much that in their irritation, they won't let the lambs nurse. I think it's about specific breeds and individual animals. I'd say give it a try one way or the other, then make adjustments as necessary. There's no wrong way, just what works for you & your flock. :)
     
  7. Our Little Farm

    Our Little Farm Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    We only keep one ram at a time and they have always been as gentle as can be. Never been butted/rammed or even made nervous. Maybe it varies with the breed? Ours leave the ewes alone as soon as they are bred. No more pestering and very loving towards the lambs.

    I don't want lambs twice every year though so we put up electric to keep them separated in years we only want one lambing.

    As said above, there is no wrong way, as long as your ewes are healthy and in good condition, and your ram is not aggressive. Just do what works for you!

    Good luck.
     
  8. littlebitfarm

    littlebitfarm Scotties rule! Supporter

    Messages:
    1,617
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    IL
    I know all the 'big" breeders keep their rams separate. I don't. I don't want to deal with another isolated critter that needs feed and water. I have always kept the ram in with the ewes 24/7 and it has never been an issue. I don't pet him or hand feed him, ever. He has never taken an evil step in my direction. He has never been a problem with the lambs either.

    I was once told by a friend that it is when you separate the male out that you make him mean. Don't know if it is true or not.

    I have Katahdins, they should be breeding 3 times every 2 years. That has only happened once here. My guess is if I took him away for a few weeks and then brought him back, the girls might get interested.

    My current ram is a big male and now 5 years old. Once a year I catch him and trim his feet and worm him. He doesn't like it and neither do I. I tie him short to a fence with 2 separate ropes (just in case) and make sure someone else is here when i do it. Even then he hasn't tried to come after me, but does try to get away.

    Only advantage I see to keeping him separate is you know when lambs are due.

    Kathie
     
  9. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

    Messages:
    8,818
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    S.E.Alabama
    friends down the way had Barbados and left the ram in with the ewes all the time, only a small home flock of about 6-8 ewes at any given time, they were for meat, left basically to their own device on pasture with the donkeys and a milk goat and would come up for feed at night, one year ended up with three young rams that didnt get put in the freezer as soon as normal, the ewes were fine but the rams had their contests to see whos boss, they are built for it and no body was any worse for ware, the ewes would have their lambs when they wanted and the extras went in the freezer,
     
  10. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    16,464
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    SW Michigan
    I have a choice to make in this area. Last year, I separated them. I had 2 rams since one was a gift. It worked just fine minus a few run-ins with the larger one. He was good as gold until the ewes went into heat.

    On the one hand, I have to maintain a separate pen and a buddy but I can control the timing of lambing.

    On the other, If I run them all together, I don't have as many worries or chores. I just need a new ram every year that I keep any ewe lambs, but at $400, that isn't always an easy choice either. Keeping a flock naturally as they were designed to be appeals to me also. Maybe I need to switch to Jacobs like OLF?
     
  11. Our Little Farm

    Our Little Farm Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,971
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    If you do....I'll figure a road trip!

    There are several heritage Jacob shepherds around where I live. We even have a website!

    When I worked on different commercial farms in another country, that had between 1,000 and 3,000 sheep, they all kept the rams with the sheep and there was never any aggression towards us. When it came the yearly time to shear, they were all rounded up and sheared, feet trimmed and doctored. Rams included.

    We also shear and trim/doctor ours once a year, as the ram stays close to the group he just follows the ewes and lambs into our barn and we shut the door. We then get them one by one from the barn door the other side. Any that are going to be butchered are left inside until we are ready.

    Ours have horns so they make great handles!

    Here is our current ram.

    [​IMG]

    Some sheep and their lambs from last year. We had a 4 horn ram, so had some 4 horn lambs. The ewes have just been sheared in this pic.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  12. sheepish

    sheepish Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,714
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario
    Not all range flocks leave rams with the ewes all the time. Many have a turnout time.

    We keep 3-4 rams for our 70 plus ewes. We usually leave our rams with the ewes from October to May.

    That means we lamb in March and don't get any January surprises. We know when to watch the ewes more closely for signs of lambing and lambing problems.

    Having the lambs all in a confined period means that we can feed pregnant ewes, nursing ewes and lambs as a groups. That way we don't waste feed fattening ewes who are doing neither. It helps for pasturing as well.

    It is also good for marketing lamb as we can sell uniform groups of lambs to our customers.