Monday, April 30, 2012

The trouble with rams



No, a car did not go through our fence and hit the sheep shelter. That bit of damage was done by Storm the ram. The shelter separates the ram pen from the pasture where the ewes were running. And he busted through the corrugated metal and 2X4 framing so he could rejoin the ewes.

I suppose he was mad that we took him away from the girls and put him in his own pen. For the winter -- a.k.a. breeding season -- we had him with most of the flock except for my two ten-year-old ewes and Storm's yearling daughter. We decided to let the three ewes go back with the rest of the flock, and put Storm by himself, so he wouldn't get those last three ewes pregnant. Although sheep are seasonal breeders, I'm not quite sure when their season ends because we have had September lambs in the past, so I know they can still get pregnant in April.

Storm was okay being separated from the girls last year, but he was younger then. Rams can get to be a problem as they get older. They seem to get bossier. He has also broken several fence posts. He is getting to be quite expensive, as well as dangerous. We all know better than to go into the pasture alone. His modus operandi is usually the same. First he runs up as if to say hi, then after checking you out, he backs up, puts his head down, and charges right at you. So, whenever something needs to be done in the pasture, two people need to go in there -- one to do what needs to be done and one to keep an eye on Storm and fend off his attacks.

I'm starting to feel like some evil emperor executing too many subjects, but I don't think there are many people out there who would volunteer to give Storm a nice home. If by chance, you want this lovely boy to join your farm, contact me soon because sadly his days are numbered.

Since this is not the first time we've had a ram like this -- and I've heard plenty of other people talk about ram temperament -- I am starting to think that I may stop breeding sheep. I have plenty of wool, and if I run out, I know plenty of people who sell it. And my ewes will still be around for a lot of years. But seriously, I should probably sell some of them anyway. And here we are about to enter another lambing season!

10 comments:

RiverBend Farm said...

Well, I should say he's getting a little bossier in his older age...my gracious! He means business! Good luck..

Tombstone Livestock said...

As someone that has suffered from serious migraine headaches I cannot understand why any sheep or goats would used their heads as a weapon. I guess that is where the name battering ram came from. Just the sound of their heads crashing together makes my head and neck hurt. Your ram sure did a number on that wall, may need more lumber from ground up to about 3 ft high, at least it might slow him down. Good luck, I think I would be looking for his replacement now for next year.

Deborah Niemann said...

I forgot to mention in the post that this is why some people get polled rams. They seem much more violent with the horns. We've had some in the past who put major dents in two-inch pipe gates!

Michelle said...

I can vouch for polled rams, but I've also heeded counsel that a ram SHOULD NOT BE KEPT ALONE! They are flock animals and will not be happy otherwise, and an unhappy ram is especially problematic. That is why I kept a wether, and then another ram (a group of three is better than a group of two).

Deborah Niemann said...

We've had rams do just as much damage in the past when they had several buddies. We've had as many as four or five rams before, and they've busted up shelters just because. By the end of one winter, there was one group of rams that had no walls left on their shelter because they had knocked them all off from the inside. When we had the rams in the walnut grove one year, they took a dislike to one of the trees, and literally beat it to death. If there is a ewe in heat elsewhere, they will bust up whatever they need to bust to get to their girl. One reason we went to one ram is so that at least we'd know who sired the lambs. I got tired of having so many lambs of dubious heritage. And having more rams just made it even harder to go into the pasture. We do have wethers. Unfortunately, Storm comes after people even when he is with other sheep.

Michelle said...

It DOES sound like you need to be the executioner, then. Some of them just can't be successfully managed (although ALL rams should be watched carefully when you are in with them). I do remember now your troubles with multiply rams and questionable parentage; I can see in that situation why having more than one ram is a problem. Maybe you could rent a ram down the road if you choose to have lambs again!

Deborah Niemann said...

I visited Julianne's site this morning to see if she had any polled ram lambs yet, and I noticed that she rented a ram last winter, so that is another option.

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Good gracious! Such power in that ram head and body!

Nancy K. said...

Carry a squirt bottle (or pitcher of water with you when you go into Storm's pen. Wait until he puts his head down and then douse his head. He'll act like he was electrocuted! Rams HATE getting their faces wet. After a couple of showers, he'll keep his distance.

As for the buildings: a polled ram can do as much damage to a tin shed as a horned ram can.

I had the best results when I just used ram LAMBS for breeding. They are usually quite well behaved and then I sold them as proven yearlings.

Mary Ann said...

I have a friend who is afraid of her Shetland ram for the same reasons... and has tried to sell her breeding trio for over a year... male of the species is nothing to fool around with, whether bull or ram!

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