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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently started watching our Katahdin ewes and noticed something odd.

One of the ewes a youngster, goes up to the others and paws them with her fore leg, The ewe turns to face her and they gently touch heads and then necks.

Any one any ideas? They all respond the same to this youngster other than the lambs and our "pet hand reared ewe".
 

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John, that cracked me up.:D

This behaviour is not unusual and I've often observed it in my own sheep. I don't know what it means and I've never thought too much about it.

Cheers,
Ronnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Made me laugh to :bow:

No I had never thought about it either, just this time I must have been mind bored.
 

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John - Too funny !

I have a handful of ewes that do a type of pointing with their legs, without the physical contact.

It has always looked to me as if they are telling the others to stay clear, whether it be their flakes of hay or just out of their space.

Guess there is no way to know for sure but in the context of their behavior, it seems to make sense:shrug:
 

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I think she is confronting them, being dominant. They take her seriously enough to respond, but not to take her down.
 

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I think she is just a little girl sheep who does not want to grow up!

Very young lambs do this as in invitation to 'play'. You will see this on a fine spring day when the grass is green and the moms are grazing, the little lambs gambol and frolick and do this leg pointy and play head but before scampering across the meadow or trying to see who can stay on the little hillock the longest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
MMmm all interesting. I am leaning towards a "hello" type of thing. There is no dominance associated with it, no one moves out of the way to offer her their piece of hay, they just seem to offer love and friendship and reassurance - it did remind me of a baby in the Spring. So maybe so just needed a sheep hug.
 

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Sheep are much smarter and more socially organized than people think, non sheep people that is.

I had a ewe down from a sprain a couple winters ago. She could move but just didn't like hobbling. She settled in at the front of the shelter rather than go in and squeeze. Two of my ewes (a different breed) kept pawing at her rear quarters to try to get her up. They lingered with her instead of leaving her alone in the cold that night. It was actually very touching, they knew she didn't feel well.

I have seen different levels of social interaction going on with different breeds or even crosses. Seems like some of them "learn" certain behaviors in their home birth flocks. I have seen clicks form in my different breed groups or based on farm of origin for groups of mixed breeds in my pasture. I know which ewes are in charge and which ewes are popular, even which ewes seem less personality prone in my group. I can always trace it back to breed or birthplace. (I spend waaaay too much time observing and over analyzing my sheep. Is it awful I can recognize most of their "voices" and who is baaahing from far away? LOL)
 

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We had two farms about 5 miles apart and every year the flock of several hundred would be walked between them. Every year a particular ewe, recognisably by a black spot on one ear, was always first onto the road and took the lead and resolutely stride out in front with the others strung out behind her. As far as I recall she was just a member of the flock for the rest of the year but on that day she was 'leader'.
 

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A week ago I moved my ram and a weather into a paddock that also houses a couple of hand reared calves. The ram isn't in the slightest bit interested in having the weather for company but he has cottoned on the the older of the two calves and they spend hours pushing each other around. This evening the calf came up to the fence and waited to be fed. The ram followed and stood behind her. She got bored with the waiting and sat down. A few minutes went by and the ram started to paw her. Not hard and not aggressively but he wanted her attention. I could almost see her give a sigh of exasperation as she stood up and turned towards him. They then engaged in a bit of pushing and shoving which quietened down to head rubbing and then she stood beside him and chewed on his ear (I now know why he's got no covering on his ears!) He stood beside her while she drank her milk then the pair of them wandered off to a sunny spot and went to sleep together.

Similar behaviour to that of ewes and I wonder if it's attention seeking or acceptance behaviour. In this case the ram is a good 2 years older than the calf but she is taller than him. When they first started this pushing and shoving I debated on whether to take him out because if he got nasty and left the ground he would kill the calf but it never gets to that, it gets nowhere near it. Animal behaviour and the interation between different species is a fascinating thing. I just wish I had more time to observe and think it all through.

Cheers,
Ronnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am so glad I started this topic, it really is fascinating, and I wish more studies were done on livestock as opposed to domestic animals.

I can hear the difference between the baas and likewise they recognise me and can differenciate between myself and the rest of the family.

Daddy feeds then hay now and again, and they accept that without noise, however if I get out of a car, walk on the deck etc even with no feed bucket on scoop in my hand they all come running up to the fence line bleating away ...reason being that I give them a scoop of grain now and again...

Animals are like children, they know who the suckers are and who will give in to their demands...
 

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When one of my ewes wants a private room to lamb in, she goes up to each loafing ewe and taps her twice on the butt with a foreleg and the ewe just gets up and leaves every time. That is how my ewes clear a room to lamb in, a nice quiet orderly fashion. I always wondered how they got to be alone to lamb and now I know!

kirsten
 
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