How are you all keeping your rams "docile"?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Terry W, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I have a question on RAM behaviour-- especially since my BB ram is now a singleton( the wether is still out running with the deer)
    "IRA" is just hitting one year of age-- he learned at 6 months that if something frightens him and I am nearby, he can 'hide' by me and I would handle the situation..
    He started 'pushing' the wether some time ago, and being rather fond of animal behaviour studies, I watched their interaction, and made note of what was happening.
    Now,he is placing his head against me, and pushing, so I have taken to making a fist, and pushing him back on his horn plate area, enough to knock him off balance and cause him to step back. A few times now, when he has lifted his front feet off the ground, I have been quick enough to get a hand on his horn plate area and push him down and back. A couple times of this, and he quits his advances, and remains quiet.. I can continue with what I want to do in his area.

    From all you long term sheep people-- is this going to work? I am feeling I need to just maintain my dominance, the same way I need to with my chesapeake bay retriever. That as long as I keep "winning" the quiet pushes, that I will be in control. If the ram gets real aggressive, he will have a rather stubborn Basenji to deal with-- as NO ONE is permitted to act aggressively when she is around!!!

    Terry Thankfull I don't have a woolly sheep-- mine sheds water nicely!!!
     
  2. Goatsandsheep

    Goatsandsheep Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do not push or hit him in the head it, this only reinforce the natural urge to butt. Carry a water bottle and spray him in the face went he butt you.
     

  3. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

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    What we do, try not to handle them any more than you have to. But we keep our rams with our ewes all year long, and never keep them seperated by themselves. *Our rams have never became aggressive towards any of use at breeding time, or even in our witner paddock, a small area where we keep them during the witner months, we have never had a problem with them hurting the lambs, or any other animals for that matter.

    Things we have learned with friendly rams, don't rub their head, touch their head, or hit them on the head, stick to the shoulders or back, somethign other than head and face.

    Melissa
     
  4. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    Sounds like good stuff-- I like to use natural animal behaviour to trai n with--I just don't want this guy thinking he is stronger than I am. So I will refrain from the horn plate stuff, and just keep on sidestepping him, with the little dog at my side. He isn't aggressive-- quite friendly, actually. I don't have any same breed females for him yet, and he is quite frustrated--the in-season does surround him with their alluring scent- i will be much happier when they go out of season and the only thing I have to worry about is the coyotes!!!
     
  5. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    I don't handle mine much either and they have been staying nice. The rams that have come here being sort of nasty seem to get better if they have room to get away, not in a small lot, but in a big pasture with other sheep. If I'm worried I just have my dog sort and drive them away while I take care of whatever I need to with the ewes. Usually even if they have been crappy with me, they won't mess with the dog.
     
  6. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    First rams I made pets out of... big mistake. They all had to be culled as they became big, and, if not intentionally "aggressive," pushy to the point of dangerous. I learned (too late) NEVER push on the head plate, it encourages them to push back (dun!). Reach for them under the chin.

    I no longer grain rams, they get apples, pumpkins, carrots, etc, which doesn't trigger the "food drive" which causes hard butting. And I don't give them treats while in the pen, they get them from behind a fence. 200 pounds of ram with horns is just too much to risk.
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Yeah...like Walter! Really friendly, then started testing his ramming skills on me. Thank you, no; not terribly fond of friendly rams (although I seem to have friendlier rams that ewes...now why is that?) Advice I got here were things like big stick, club, cattle prod...all excellent advice. My experience with Walter has me in the frame of mind that, if they want to be social, that's fine, but I'm not going out of my way to be friends with them. In fact, I don't even make eye contact with some, but treat them as though they're not even there (those would be the super friendly ones who think they're cocker spaniels, like one of Walter's sons!) Sometimes they turn on you at a year (Walter) and others will take a few years to get there. I'm of the opinion that the less you handle them when they're young the better their odds of making it to maturity :rolleyes:
     
  8. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Terry, pushing on his head is the worst thing you can do for the reasons stated by others. As your ram matures he is going to think that your fair game for a head butting contest and when he leaves the ground and hits you with the full force of his weight and hard head your very likely to end up with broken bones. Have you ever seen two rams going for it - the noise of their heads hitting together is tremendous.

    Of all the rams I've owned there has only been one I got close to trusting and he is now 8 years old and residing with my sister and her ewes. The others have been and are quiet and although I handle them as infrequently as possible, the ram paddock is next to my cowshed so they become used to people, noise and activity. They come to the call but I ALWAYS carry a piece of alkathene should one decide to do some head butting. I don't run my rams with the ewes all year round but once they are put out at tupping they completely lose interest in me.

    Your ram is the male of the species and needs to be treated and handled with the same respect accorded to a bull. Don't handle him around the nose, head and shoulders unless you want to end up flat on the ground.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  9. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    kesoaps, I'm with you on the friendly ram thing. My ram lambs are always friendlier and more fun to play with than the ewe lambs... go figure. But Charlie, who was my first and I petted and spoiled, at one year was charging me in mid-air with a full rack of horns (and my, wasn't he tasty...). His son Weasley... same thing. By try number three I'd smartened up some, and lucked out with a lovely ram I had to sell to another farm because my lines are too tight... his son is still here, curling rack of horns and a little pushy, but no airborne charges.

    I'm convinced that part of the issue was my handling and making pets out of the other two, but part of it was also the bloodlines. In Icelandics we've got lines called "Leader Sheep" which are slightly more intelligent than your average bug, and both these rams came from Leader lines. I think that had some bearing on how they sugared off as adults. Both of them threw great ewes. Both of them threw aggressive rams. I've culled every ram from those lines since, kept the ewes.

    Anyhow, since we eat most of our ram lambs I hug them and squeeze them and snap pictures of how cute they are... then grill them.

    Shepherds are sick...
     
  10. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Oh Goody! I was beginning to think I was the only person out there that can do the hug 'em, squeeze 'em, pet 'em, name 'em, play with 'em...then eat 'em thing! I do it for all the species here! I figure if their lives are gonna be short, it should be good, and depriving them of petting only protects Me!

    Everyone I know thinks I'm about a half a bubble off of plumb, anyway.....

    Meg
     
  11. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    I don't. I expect my rams to act like rams. They are male breeding animals, no different than bulls or stud horses. their job is to make babies, not be my friend. It is my responsibility to make sure I don't put myself in a position to get hurt. If I do get hurt (and I have), I don't blame the ram.
    Rams are bolder than ewes, they seem to warm up to people easier and it is hard not to spoil them when they are young. Then the day comes when they charge you for the first time.
    I carry a crook into the pen with me and never turn my back on them. Although I do pet them through the fence, I don't make myself comfortable around them. If I want to snuggle, I snuggle with the ewes. :)
    Out of my six rams, I only have one who is trouble. He was the only one shown as a lamb, so was handled a lot. Hence he has lost his respect of humans. When he is disrespectful of me, he gets knocked around and yelled at until he runs off (submits).
     
  12. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    Unfortuneately, my ram is an "only" right now. The wether is still MIA-- spotted running with deer last week. I have taken all this to heart-- and poor Ira missed his face brushing last night-- It looks like I will need to fence off the open portion of his stall walls, as he is now getting up on his rear legs and peering through the wall- a space big enough to leap through for his smaller size...

    when I took pictures of his scur to send his breeder, I used a Gambrel restraint, which made things a lot easier-- And yes, using his larger body areas to move him is a lot easier than leading by the head-- I do have a harness for him I use for that purpose now-- he finally grew into it. At almost a year, now, he will only mature to about 120 pounds--hair sheep tend to be smaller than the woollies, and for that, I am gratefull.
     
  13. cvk

    cvk Well-Known Member

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    First I raised Corriedales and never met a ram that didn't try to kill me. Then Suffolk and they tried to kill me. Along came the Montadales and not a single one in years and years and years ever even looked crosseyed at me. Now I have Icelandic--my rams are tame--hand raised--bottle babies--the oldest now 5 years old and run with my ewes. They come for their loves all of the time--stand to be sheared without any restraint etc. What I am getting at is this---while pushing on a rams head is a total no no--some breeds are just naturally evil tempered while others seem to not get ugly without alot of provacation.
     
  14. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    Your ram would probably be much easier to work with if he had another animal, sheep or goat to follow as a model. Breed of sheep might make a difference too, I never had problems with my katahdins or cheviots, but the suffolk and dorper rams I had were downright nasty whenever I had to do anything in close quarters with them. Suffolk was nasty in the field and would run across the field after me(before I had a good dog).
     
  15. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    He will become more aggressive, territorial really. Not his fault. If there was a more dominant ram, he would stay more submissive, but he knows he's herd sire. If you think he is being butty, like that head rubbing thing (he's being possessive of you by rubbing his scent on you), cup your hand under his chin and pick his head up. If you ever see him looking squarely at you and backing up, go right up to him yelling, and showing him "the foot". If he takes a step to charge (he'll be tentative at first), kick him in the face while yelling. If he gets a hit on you he can give you a nice welt or worse. Never bend over when he is nearby. People have had their necks broken by sweet pet rams when the dear boy accepted their head butting challenge. They will also butt your butt, but at least that won't break your neck.

    When he gets to the point that he is butting you and not backing down, it's time to put him in the freezer. My ram left this morning for the packing house. He was very nice most of the time, but when there is a change (anything, ewes cycling, blood, donkeys being agitated, the sight of a dog) he would become aggressive. Maybe for only ten or 20 or 30 seconds, but in those few seconds his 180 (or maybe 200) pounds flying into one is pretty scary. Last Wednesday the vet wethered his son so that I don't have to go through this again.
     
  16. lorian

    lorian Well-Known Member

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    Whew! I am glad I happened upon this thread as I was thinking about accepting the gift of a pet ram, born this spring and really sweet (they said).
    I was going to add him to the barnyard until I read this.....
     
  17. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Ah...saved in the nick of time, eh, lorian? I know some folks who's rams remain very docile and sweet, but one can never be too carefull IMO.
     
  18. mawalla

    mawalla Well-Known Member

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    The three boys I have on the place now are docile. One is only a year old so he may become agressive as he ages but is not showing any signs of it now. The two year old stays away from us, the 6 year old is a fertile wethering error that was bottle raised, but non-agressive. Even though they have never charged or postured I don't trust them, especially during breeding season. I've seen the damage that they have done to some gates when they butted at each other through them and I don't want those dents to be on me! I've had other rams that were agressive and I get rid of them. The wether is suffolk/romanov, the two year old is dorset/st.croix, and the yearling is 3/4 st.croix/dorsett. I worry about the yearling because he has been "cuddled a lot by the girls and still is. It could be that the big boys keep him in line and he is so low on the pecking order that he hasn't become agressive. Yet.
     
  19. Nellie

    Nellie Well-Known Member

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    We got a ram, oh, two months ago, so that would make him 8 months old now. Jacob ram. He is still scared of us. Won't come near. We haven't encouraged him, either. In fact, if he comes close, I scare him off by waving my hands and hollering.

    From what I've read here, I think I did the right thing??? I figured that if he got mean, we'd eat him..... but who wants to give him opportunity to be mean even once??
     
  20. heritagefarmer

    heritagefarmer Belties are Best!

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    We got a 5 yr old Horned Dorset ram from Rare Breeds Canada in February and he is an absolute gentlemen.
    Even now "Wallace" is in with the girls he comes over to say "Hi' and I never feel threatened by him at all. You can lead him by the horns, in fact when we bought the girls in off the pasture, I led him in, and the girlysfollowed, which was a first, we normally have to round them up!

    Sounds like he is pretty rare for a ram that we never bred.
    The other guy, "Grommet" is more wary, but would always run rather than fight. Maybe it's the breed. I would never want to keep a male animal that I was scared of.
    Sounds like he is pretty rare for a ram that we never bred.

    Had to shoot a billy goat once though, he was MEAN. If you didn't go in brandishing a piece of 2x2 he would attack,