Establishing Ram Herds

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by lisarichards, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    Learning about sheep farming from reading books and on the internet sure is hard.

    We need to get our boys together for a variety of reasons. I've read about as much as I can find about how people do it, like here and here.

    So we don't have stalls or a barn, which has certainly made it harder. We have an area between two of our sheds that we created with pallets, and we put the three rams in there yesterday afternoon. We heard bumps and crashes all night long, and in the morning, one had gotten out into the shed by working away a corner, and the other two were fighting horribly.

    We made the space even smaller, and have all three of them in there again. I'm not optimistic about this whole thing, though. There was a blood stain on one of the side walls this morning, and all three of their heads have cuts on them.

    How normal is this? Anything else we should be doing? The pen they are in is next to a pen of girls, with wire fencing between them. Is that going to work or should we do something that they can't see through? The ground is frozen so it's not like we can put up real fencing yet (this is all temporary until the spring), but maybe tarps or pallets? My husband's not convinced we'll need it, but I'm worried.

    Sue is an Icelandic ram who is 4 years old, Raven is a Shetland who is also 4, and Panic is a yearling Shetland ram. We have a mixed Icelandic/Shetland wether -- should we put him in with the real boys?

    Lots of questions. Any help is appreciated. Tell me it's going to get easier! How do you establish ram herds?
     
  2. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

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    It might be harder with those older rams. Do they know each other at all? If not, I think I would put them in adjoining pens, but separated by a fence, til they were familiar with each other.

    We have 7 rams together. The way we did it was put the babies in with the older guys at weaning time. The older ones are tolerant of the babies. Now they all get along fine, although when a girl comes in season and they can smell it, they have lots of those "butt-head" fights, a little blood on the head once in awhile, but nothing serious.

    We have never tried mixing grown rams that don't know each other.
     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I've added mature rams to a ram flock established like RandB's. There is a few days of contests alright. I'm concerned about your Jr ram, to be honest. I'd pen them seperately and beside each other for a few weeks, then together with tires laid about so they can't get a good run without some manouvering. I'm off to check your links though, might come in handy someday!
     
  4. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    I'd try a couple of things - are they really squashed in there tight? I mean, like the one link says, laying down/standing room only? A common mistake is to give them too much room. Also, are you using a smell on them? Vicks, cologne, etc. And, ram shields - Premier sells them www.premier1supplies.com sized for horned or non-horned rams, or you can make your own from an old t-shirt - cut sort of an apron like shape, with a compressed "N" off each side to make 1 inch strips to tie it on to the horns. You end up with this "apron" with the strings tied to the horns, & wide enough across the face that they can't see ahead, & coming down to the nose band (where a halter would go) on the muzzle. This works like blinders & helps slow down butting behavior (plus they can't seen what's right in from of them). Leave the ram shield on for a week. I wouldn't recommend putting horned rams on opposite sides of a fence - it only seems like a good idea, as I tried this with my 1st 2 rams, to introduce them - the 1st one took a run at the fence (from about 4 ft away), & before I could stop him, had hit the fence twice & bashed holes through 1/4" welded steel wire panels (I had them in adjoining horse paddocks). The only time I've seen one of these panels so trashed was when an oak tree fell on one... And sure, throw the wether in there for added confusion/crowding. Mine never beat up on the wethers. Might not hurt to try throwing a tarp up over the fence between them & the girls, either.
     
  5. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I keep them in separate pens and put up plywood boards so they can't see one another. A good sized ram can devastate even a hog wire fence or cattle panel. Regular woven wire won't hold them if they get to butting a fence.
     
  6. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the responses.

    We made the pen even smaller to cut down on the space they have.

    original size

    I need to take another picture, but basically we moved those back two pallets in about two feet.

    They both seem to be mostly ignoring the young ram (Panic), who mostly stays down. We bought some spray cologne yesterday, and will use that today.

    How long should we keep them in this pen? The crash boom bang noises are far fewer, and if we go out to see what's happening, they mostly just look at us.

    So we've restricted water and food for a day and a half. The yard in front of the shed they'll be in is filled with stumps, so manuevering around it all should be tricky, but I'm sure they'll find a way to do head butting if they are still going to do that. (damn it)

    stumpy yard shot (from a week ago or so. It's now all covered with snow.)

    I'm going to see if I can make some of those face guards. They really don't like each other.

    The local newspaper company can give us a bunch of pallets on Monday, which we can put up along the fence between them and the girls next door. I'm wondering if I should just keep them in that little pen until we can do that.

    Someone mentioned that rams shouldn't beat up on wethers. We got Raven (4 year old Shetland ram) with a wether (Leon) who was supposedly his buddy. But it's a strange friendship is all I'll say. When they were together, Raven mostly made Leon stay way down at the bottom of the yard, where he'd run to hide behind a stump. When I had Panic in there with them, several times Raven and Leon would tag-team the beating up, and Panic would get his horns caught in the fence. Several times I went out to find both of them ramming Panic, who head was caught in the fence, so I pulled Panic out, even though we didn't have another place to put him. Poor guy's been chained up under the deck by himself for a month now. So with Panic out of there, Raven took to beating up on Leon. I think he's just a bit of a bully, and I'm not quite sure what to do with him.
     
  7. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

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    We raise Dorpers ~ BIG boys at 250-300 lbs. We had four out for breeding in four different groups of ewes this fall. Well, hormones are raging when we pull them all to put them back in the ram pens so we panel them off in a pen like sardines. They are barely only able to throw heads against each other's sides, no room to back up and head butt. We leave them this way for about 24 hours and then gradually make the pen larger. We also throw in any yearling bachelors that are going to be in the ram pen with them on the second and third day. We put a bucket of water in a corner and throw some hay a couple times a day so they get used to eating together ~ seems like that helps them bond. On day three, we move them all to a pen AWAY from any ewes and they do fine until next breeding season. We use the same method whenever we purchase a new ram ~ but the key is to pack them in like sardines. They WILL get used to one another ~ never failed yet! I have visited a breeding operation with over 100 big rams in one pen. If you are still having trouble, your idea of purchasing face guards so they can't see one another would be good.
     
  8. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like Raven may be a candidate for replacement... my rams generally treat the wethers pretty much like a "funny ewe". They'll sometimes chase them a little & try to mount them, do a little minor playing (chase & butt heads, lightly), but they get along with them. A ram that won't treat a wether nicely, is generally overly rough with ewes, as well. I've Shetland rams that I can just leave with a breeding group, as they're good with lambing ewes & the lambs, very gentle & protective of them (I've seen lambs lie on top of my main flocksire.) Some of my other Shetlands weren't this good, hence my practice in setting up ram-only groups - those rams aren't here anymore, either.
     
  9. FrankRichards

    FrankRichards Well-Known Member

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