Managing rams at the end of breeding season...
One of the most frequently asked questions is: "How do we put rams back together at the end of the breeding season
so they don't injure or kill each other?"
Over the years we have developed a pretty fail-safe strategy for re-introducing the rams to each other. On the day that we want to disperse
the breeding groups, we prepare a pen approximately the size of the number of rams we have to work with. The above photo shows the 2005
ram pen. The idea is to pack them in as tight as possible to allow them the least amount of space possible. The reason behind this is: when
rams get back together after they've been in rut and with ewes, they will want to fight each other. They will smell the ewes on each other and
they will be primed to fight. If they are allowed limitless space, they will back up and "ram" each other just like those wild mountain sheep on
television shows. That usually results in some seriously injured or dead animals. By locking the rams up in a space appropriate to their
numbers, they can only jostle each other and they don't get that "full steam" run at each other. We will leave them locked up like this for
around 24 hours. We don't bother to try to feed or water them anymore, as they ignore the food and water anyway, as they are most
interested in "wrestling" with each other. We do however, check on them often. As you can see in the above photo, they can get their horns
locked together. This is one reason it's best to have rams with good wide horn sets. The wider the horns, the less likely they are to get locked
up without being able to get themselves loose. I noted this year that several times there were some horns that slipped together, but because
the horns were nice and wide, the rams managed to maneuver their heads so that they got disengaged on their own. We do check on them often
during the time they are penned together to make sure they are alright. After 24 hours they are now tired, hungry and thirsty. We then let
them out and instead of immediately fighting, they usually head for the hay feeder or water source. There will usually be some limited jostling
for "head ram" position that day, but because they are tired and have already been locked up, they have much less power and enthusiasm
behind their blows. Below is a photo of the two oldest/biggest rams, who had to decide which one was going to be "head ram." Although there
is some injury, we have had no fatalities using these strategies (knock on wood). Within 48 hours of putting them back with each other, they
have sorted things out and all is now calm with the rams. Note (below) how the white ram is panting - this indicates they are really too tired
to hurt each other badly.