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Shetland Ram Questions...(aggressive-ness)

Discussion in 'Birthing, Weaning, and Raising Young Sheep' started by sunnyside, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Apr 12, 2011
    sunnyside

    sunnyside Chillin' with the herd

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    Well, first a big thank you to all who answered my questions on our 3 week old ram who lost his mama! With your advice, we were finally able to get him on the bottle. He is eating creep feed along with a bit of hay, and drinking water as well!

    I have been pouring over the forums here as well as my sheep books. I am concerned because I keep reading over and over about the dangers of a bottle fed ram becoming super aggressive after reaching maturity. Is this true in all breeds of sheep? Should I be concerned? His papa was also a bottle fed baby and was shown in local and state fairs throught he 4H. I never turn my back on any ram but is the bottle fed thing more of a larger breed issue? Our Shetland ram now is older and although he has yet to ram me, I also won't give him the chance! If I notice a gleam in his eye, I tell him not to even think about it! LOL!

    So what are the concerns with bottle fed shetland rams?
  2. Apr 12, 2011
    patandchickens

    patandchickens Overrun with beasties

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    I can tell you that although Shetlands may be smaller than most sheep breeds they can still do a pretty good job of ramming you. My wonderful handsome ram is really quite gentlemanly but once, early on, I did not pay sufficient attention to him and got slammed maybe 1/2-force in the side of the thigh. I walked pretty funny for the rest of the week and made REAL sure not to let THAT happen again. If he had been seriously ramming me (the way I see him going after fences or his little shelter, sometimes), he could very easily have broken my thigh, I'm sure, and I would NOT want to fall down and have him come after me.

    He is an excellent gentleman in general, usually keeps his distance and when he doesn't (for good reason, to his way of thinking, I'm sure) it is just a threat or gesture or at most a half-step-back-and-obviously-self-restrained bump. And he is of course short.

    But he *is* a ram.

    So I would suggest taking as much care with a bottlefed male shetland as with a bottlefed anything bigger ;)

    JMHO, glad to hear the little guy is doing well,

    Pat
  3. Apr 12, 2011
    aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie The Shepherd

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    I tend to believe there is something to that theory. I haven't bottle fed tons of rams, but I have had experience with rams who were very skittish and rams who were very friendly. I've never been rammed (or threatened) by skittish rams, but I am sorry to say I have been rammed by some rams who were not at all afraid of people. The worst was a 300+ lb Montadale. Ouch! He would only get really bad towards the end of breeding season when his girls were all settled, but other times he was mostly ok. I kept a ram lamb for the freezer last year, and he was very friendly. He'd come up to me for pets and hugs. Luckily I knew he wouldn't be around long...because if I would have kept him as a breeding ram there's no way I would have been so friendly with him. He went to freezer camp right as he turned a year old, and he was just starting to feel "rammy" and just started to get a little 'tude with me. When I get my next breeding ram I won't be mean to him, but I definitely won't treat him like one of the girls. It really has a lot to do with the individual though. There are many rams who are handled frequently but never are mean.
  4. Apr 13, 2011
    Bossroo

    Bossroo Loving the herd life

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    A pet ram is the most dangerous animal of a farm. You never know when he will have the urge to show dominance behavior. It all depends on the ram, and the hormone levels of the season. I had a 5-7 month old weaned purebred Suffolk ram flock that were very tame and friendly and never showed any sign of aggression toward me as they saw me as a food providor. They just started butting heads to sort out dominance. One day, when I whent into their pen to feed them their grain ration, one of them hit my leg from the side. I ended up with knee ligament surgery and physical therepy for 6 months. I would never trust any ram no farther than I could throw him. If I were you, I would castrate him ASAP. Then wean him from the bottle in a couple months and turn him out with the ewe flock to teach him proper sheep behavior as quite a few weathers like to play rough with humans when they see you at least like an equal. More likely than not, a bummer lamb will not thrive as well as a mamma raised lamb, and will drain your bank account to reach market size. I have raised quite a few to know first hand. When he reaches weaning age of 5-6 months , invite him to freezer camp.
  5. Apr 14, 2011
    lasergrl

    lasergrl Chillin' with the herd

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    get a lambar, and spend very little time with him. Discipline mercilessly when he shows any iffy behavior while little.

    Or castrate him.
  6. Apr 14, 2011
    sunnyside

    sunnyside Chillin' with the herd

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    Thanks for all of the replies! I love to hear what others who have been dealing with sheep think. I seem to get far better answers here (more in depth and true to life situations) from this forum than I do my sheep books. So I appreciate it greatly!!!

    Laser, glad you brought up castrating him. I was just going to ask that after reading all of the replies. Think that would be my best bet?
  7. Apr 15, 2011
    aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie The Shepherd

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    Absolutely yes. Then you can have a lovely pet wether. :)
  8. Apr 15, 2011
    patandchickens

    patandchickens Overrun with beasties

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    Yup, and then (when he's grown) he can be a companion for your ram, too, if/when you have the ram sometimes separated from the ewes.

    Pat
  9. Apr 15, 2011
    sunnyside

    sunnyside Chillin' with the herd

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    Great!

    Now through my reading in my books and on the net, it seems as if there are different times when castration is preferred. Some say at about 1 week, others three weeks, and some say anywhere up to 6 months old!! What is the best age? And will this take the majority of the agressiveness out of him?

    Sorry to be such a pain and ask soooo many questions, but after the traumatic experience of watching the neighbors dog kill his mama, he just has a special place in our hearts!
  10. Apr 15, 2011
    Bossroo

    Bossroo Loving the herd life

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    I castrated the ram lambs between 1-2 weeks old. The older they get and the more flys and ants around the more problems one will encounter... longer recovery time, infection, fly maggot strike, ant attacks, etc.. Since this ram lamb is now over 3 weeks old, I would recomend that you do this immediately if not sooner.

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