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Dee J

Sheep flock behavior...exclusion

We have four Soay ewes; three beige and one dark brown. This year we have introduced a young ram to the group. After a bit of a rough start - the ewes excluding him from the group, everything settled down. Until recently - especially when we hand feed a small amount of concentrate - the ram very actively and aggressively tries to exclude the dark brown ewe. interestingly the rams colouring and appearance is closest to the dark brown ewe.

Any idea why its happening and should we be worried?
gz

Is he related to any of them?
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Was she the previous "boss"? Is she in lamb / not in lamb?

I prefer to let critters sort themselves out unless there is physical damage or one is being excluded from all food and shelter, or something fundamental like that.
Dee J

Unrelated ram. Brown ewe was not the boss before, but no great pecking order in the flock pre-ram. And as far as we know, none of the ewes are in lamb yet. There's no great harm occurring, just that he's being a stroppy little bully.
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Stroppy little sod sounds about right. Perhaps she is the oldest, or the youngest, or ate his favourite piece of grass first, or.... Wink
Tavascarow

Maybe because she is the same colour as himself he thinks she is a he.
Sure when she comes into season he will see the error of his ways.
Mutton

Speaking as another Soay owner, the only thing rams like more than ewes on heat is food. I currently have ewes in with a ram and as ever he is no gentleman when it comes to food.
I'd disagree with anything to do with colour being involved.
Also, in my experience, rams divide the world into rams and not-rams - wethers often get their bottoms sniffed when there is on heat ewe on the breeze. The wethers know full well they aren't girls and spin away rapidly, but there is that ram nose tracking them.

Regarding concentrate - if you feed too much to rams you can cause blockage of the urethra which can make them sterile. I've never had an answer as to how much is too much, but I keep it down to a handful a day when it comes to a ram. If you can feed hay, that is a lot safer.
You can also feed sugar beet pellets. Some people recommend soaking them well first as too much dry food can cause an intestinal blockage, but I find that in small quantities - as in half a baked bean can each once or twice a day maximum - there is no problem.

For completeness, thought I'd say never, ever, hand feed a ram. Put the food down at the fence line or in a trough and back off. Not saying you are hand feeding but it is easily done. If they get tame enough to eat from your hand, they regard you as another sheep. And how do rams communicate with other sheep? By whopping them one. You want them to be calm around you, but not tame. Having said that, I do actually have one ram I hand feed in complete safety - but he is a gentle wuss and runs away from the other rams and hates head banging.
Mutton

Was wondering if they were getting on any better?
Mutton

Was wondering if they were getting on any better?
Dee J

Sorry Mutton... missed your further communications. The rams mood varies. Not any great problem... but it is only the one ewe he seems to have problems with. Concentrate feed is only a couple of handfuls a day between all of them. Main supplement is hay.
Mutton

Our little breeding flock for this year - the ram follows the ewes with interest until the food goes down, then he is in there, swinging his head and thumps the ewes to get at the food. All get a passing thump. I spread the food out in separate piles, but he'll still have to investigate other piles in case they are better.
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