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Need Help From Experienced Sheep Breeders!

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  • Need Help From Experienced Sheep Breeders!

    We have a small starter herd of Minature Cheviot sheep.. We started with 1 young ram (Ramses) and 3 ewes. The first year the ram (Ramses) was too young to breed. This year though, we had 3 lambs... 1 died, I ewe and 1 ram. We neutered the new ram (Roman) with the rubber bands (made for such). We were told it is a good idea to always have at least 1 neutered ram (Roman) in the herd to pair up with the breeding ram (Ramses) if he needed to be separated from the herd of ewes. They got along very well all summer. Now that we are back into breeding season though, the breeding ram is showing a lot of aggression toward the neutered ram. He head butts him on a daily basis and one time he hit him so hard, it tossed him off of his feet! The neutered ram still tries to jump on the ewes.

    The particular ram who is neutered was a gift from God.. He was rejected by his mother and we had to bottle feed him. My husband was going through chemo and having to raise the lamb was such a wonderful distraction from what he was going through...so this little guy is a family pet.

    My question is: is it normal for a ram to be so aggressive toward a neutered ram? and if the neutered ram is trying to mount the ewes - does this mean he is not neutered...ummm - even though there are no visible testicles? ...and what should I do to protect Roman?

    TIA!
    Julie
    www.equusvilla.blogspot.com
    www.ridingaside.blogspot.com
    www.miniaturecheviot.blogspot.com

  • #2
    I would seperate the wether, put him away from the ram. Better he is pitifully alone and undamaged, than being sorry later. I would do a box stall with ALL doors closed, those Cheviots are terrific jumpers!! He will forget it all when you allow him to rejoin the herd. Just a fence seperation may keep the ram hitting the fence, cause other worse problems. Most rams are pretty silly and certainly do not think.

    Rams do get aggressive when breeding, be careful of yourself! NO FACE RUBBING, he will take it as a sign of aggression, fight you back. Cheeks, under the jaw is fine for rubbing or scratches.

    Not sure of your goals with the sheep, wool production, pets or meat. With names, you probably are not doing meat! How many sheep are you planning as a final goal? Asking because a couple sheep, or small flock under 10ea is managable. However if you keep breeding, the sheep numbers will outgrow your "fun level" and need reducing. Then it gets hard, having to choose who goes. Lambs are edible, easier to sell. Ewes who are poor mothers, have had problems lambing might be the choices to get rid of too. Ewes pass on those problems, so you want them out of your herd, not reproducing problems. Older ewes must be weeded out, teeth get worn out, don't breed back so they cost you money if you want lambs instead.

    Unfortunately, sheep usually don't live a great long time, their teeth wear out and they can't graze. Can somewhat depend on your type of soil, sand or dirt, how abrasive it is on the teeth for wear.

    If you are going for pets or wool production, you could neuter any ram lambs, have more wethers. They produce fine wool, can just be a number in the small herd. Keep each other company in another paddock, when the ram is breeding. Lots of spin and weave folks just keep wethers for their wool, might be special colors. You can always neuter the ram if you can't face selling him. Then keep him as a pet instead of breeding for more lambs.

    You could also keep the ram and wethers apart from the ewes, so you breed at a chosen time, lambs all arrive close together. Leaving the ram run with ewes can make lamb prediction hard, so you lose the lambs being unprepared. Ram wearing a marking harness could give you better breeding dates to plan for lambs, but hard to leave on him much of the year.

    Comment


    • #3
      From Mr. Towerkeeper, who grew up on a sheep farm

      When you emasculated the ram did you remove the testicles with the scrotum or did you push them up inside the body cavity to turn him into a “teaser” ram? Have know “teaser” rams to still be able to breed so be aware of this.

      We tended to have 3 or 4 rams but generally did not run them together in same pasture during breeding season – one ram to a pasture.

      In non breeding seasons the rams ran together in a separate enclosure from the ewes. If when first put back together if aggressive towards each other, place a large number tires, feeders, toys, etc. in enclosure to form obstacle course so they can not get straight run at each other and usually after a couple of days everything settles down.

      Have to agree that the best approach is separation until all breeding is done. If you don't have a separate pasture might I suggest collar and lead line on the lawn. If you want you can put the wether in with the horses and then they can practice the age old fun of sheep jumping.


      Note from Ms Towerkeeper, my Morgan Chrissy excels at this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by equusvilla View Post

        My question is: is it normal for a ram to be so aggressive toward a neutered ram? and if the neutered ram is trying to mount the ewes - does this mean he is not neutered...ummm - even though there are no visible testicles? ...and what should I do to protect Roman?

        TIA!
        separate them...I once had a ram and a saanen billy fight for hours...and they are not even the same species...

        rams, can of course be very nasty to humans as well...that course of action from one of them would get my thumbs stuck into their mouth and pinched their tongue down against the lower jaw as hard as I could down with a hiss like a snake....

        it was/is the only place that would "get their attention" if they were not hooded...there is no teeth there in the center and after a time or two a hiss alone would send Mr Bossy Britches out of my space...
        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Towerkeeper 2 View Post
          From Mr. Towerkeeper, who grew up on a sheep farm

          When you emasculated the ram did you remove the testicles with the scrotum or did you push them up inside the body cavity to turn him into a “teaser” ram? Have know “teaser” rams to still be able to breed so be aware of this.
          Definitely check this out.
          My experience is with goats, not sheep, but the wether should not be jumping on your ewes. Maybe have him checked out by a vet to make sure that he was fully castrated.

          I have bought wethers before that the person who banded them did not get the balls; they banded an empty nut-sack. They all needed to be castrated by the vet later.
          april
          Equine Retirement at
          www.StonyRidgeFarm.webs.com

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks so much for the information!

            We neutered Roman with the intent to neuter him...not to make him a teaser. We followed the directions we were given and banded the testicles off at about 1-2 weeks old. Since it was our first - it could be that we did not do it correctly...???

            Anyway - I just wanted to say thank you. We have removed him from the herd..along with his little sister...who doubtfully will be able to breed this year since she was a late baby anyway.
            Julie
            www.equusvilla.blogspot.com
            www.ridingaside.blogspot.com
            www.miniaturecheviot.blogspot.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Hey, I was given a ram-I guess @ 6 months old for a pasture mate for my horse. I've always wanted to try my hand at raising sheep anyway but did NOT want a ram. My neighbors had one that was very aggressive. He had no ewes nor does mine.

              After 2 weeks of being fine the ram butted my husband. He's shown no signs of aggression to me-yet. Unfortunately I didn't know that scratching his head was a sign or aggression and scratch his all the time-maybe he thinks I'm bad;-).

              How do all those shepherds in Britain and out West have loose flocks with rams and not get butted all the time? Sam the Ram-the neighbor's sheep was *big* and though mine is small now just as I don't want to be bitten by a rat terrier I don't want to be butted by this blasted sheep. Will he calm down if I have him neutered now?

              Also he was bottle raised and as I well know that can lead to problems.

              What do y'all think?

              Regards,
              Huntin' Fool

              PS the husband says if it happens again it's BBQ that night and ear muffs for the winter.

              Comment


              • #8
                [QUOTE]
                Originally posted by Huntin'Fool View Post

                How do all those shepherds in Britain and out West have loose flocks with rams and not get butted all the time?

                What do y'all think?
                shepherds don't carry big crooks for no reason

                actually there are neat little thing called hoods that rams can wear that keep them from attacking people as it only give them vision out the sides...

                that and not making pets of the things

                rams are about equal with grumpy mama cows for something that will plant you in the ground for really no reason
                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                Comment


                • #9
                  need help with my wether

                  I was looking for info on how to handle my wether during breeding season and came across this thread. My ram is not being agressive to my wether however my wether is trying to mount the ewes. the wether is younger than than the ram however could he be detering the ram from mating the ewes?

                  thanks!
                  new to sheep - HV Farms

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Did you check there were two testicles when you banded him? If so, I find it unlikely you banded him incorrectly - it's pretty simple.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your ram should be wearing a marking harness, to see if he is breeding the ewes. Then you change colors on the harness, to see if he is trying to breed them again on their next heat cycle. Like mares, if the ewes don't come back in heat, you presume they are bred.

                      You might want to borrow another ram, for the second round, to breed ewes if they ALL appear to be in heat again. Your ram may be shooting blanks, so there may not be any lambs if you don't get a follow-up ram. Sorry, the length of a breeding cycle escapes me at the moment. But with marked ewes, you can make notes using ear tag number, on when she was bred, so you can prepare lambing pens for the ewes around the proper due dates. You have given the ewes their sel-bo shots before lambing, have the shots ready for the new lambs. You also need new ear tags, are able to put them on lambs with a tagger. This will keep lambs ID'd as to which ewe is their mother, produced well or poorly for culling later. Penning ewe/lamb/lambs together helps them mother up better, insures getting enough to milk to drink, so they thrive to grow up. Not all running about stupidly excited and getting hurt.

                      I would remove the wether from the flock at this time. Sheep are rough on each other, butting is how they determine flock dominace. I would not want him jumping on the ewes either.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        sheep breeding with presence of wether

                        Thanks for the advice. We are using a marking harness but I think we will remove the wether for the rest of the breeding time. The Wether was given to us so can't be sure about the castration method so better safe than sorry though he appears to have no testicles. Have there ever been situation where a testicle doesn't drop so it was not removed? In this case I would assume he might still be able to be fertile?!?

                        Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                        Your ram should be wearing a marking harness, to see if he is breeding the ewes. Then you change colors on the harness, to see if he is trying to breed them again on their next heat cycle. Like mares, if the ewes don't come back in heat, you presume they are bred.

                        You might want to borrow another ram, for the second round, to breed ewes if they ALL appear to be in heat again. Your ram may be shooting blanks, so there may not be any lambs if you don't get a follow-up ram. Sorry, the length of a breeding cycle escapes me at the moment. But with marked ewes, you can make notes using ear tag number, on when she was bred, so you can prepare lambing pens for the ewes around the proper due dates. You have given the ewes their sel-bo shots before lambing, have the shots ready for the new lambs. You also need new ear tags, are able to put them on lambs with a tagger. This will keep lambs ID'd as to which ewe is their mother, produced well or poorly for culling later. Penning ewe/lamb/lambs together helps them mother up better, insures getting enough to milk to drink, so they thrive to grow up. Not all running about stupidly excited and getting hurt.

                        I would remove the wether from the flock at this time. Sheep are rough on each other, butting is how they determine flock dominace. I would not want him jumping on the ewes either.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If the testicle doesn't drop, the body temp usually will keep testicle too warm to have fertile sperm. However animal still feels and acts like ram. Will breed the ewes, but he is shooting blanks so you get no lambs. Like those the teaser rams mentioned above, also infertile, but with all the ram hormones and behaviors.

                          Like crypt and monorchid stallions, they have testicles, but don't have good sperm with testicles inside the body cavity keeping it quite warm, or producing much sperm with only one testicle descended. Now and again, such animals will have some fertile sperm, so they can breed. You don't want them near mares or out with mares they could cover! These are both hereditary conditions, so you don't want them reproducing, to pass on the traits.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would have the wethers who are jumping ewes checked by a vet to see if they are indeed castrated.
                            "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Calamber View Post
                              I would have the wethers who are jumping ewes checked by a vet to see if they are indeed castrated.
                              I second this—I had a flock of 16 Jacob sheep, and six of them were wethers. None showed the slightest interest in acting like a boy, ever.

                              And I'll add that being charged (and nailed) regularly by a nasty 4-horned ram was the reason I went from being a Jacob sheep breeder to a Jacob sheep pet owner!
                              "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive

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