How do you handle an aggressive ram?

Beekissed

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I had a visiting ram for breeding once that would get a little bumpy when my back was turned, especially at feeding time. I'd let him run towards me, side step him, but grab his haunches right over the loins with clawed hands and kind of goose him forward like that. Sheep HATE that hold...don't know if it reminds them of predators or maybe the dominant ram riding them, but a few times of that and he settled right down. They also hate an ear hold, so that may be an option, to snag an ear as they pass by and just give it a sharp yank like a predator would.

Don't know if a nice shock collar with remote control feature would help? Just need to shave a place on his neck so the prongs make good contact, but wonder if that would be a good deterrent.
 

SheepGirl

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I've owned a few different rams (but been around many from my neighbor's).

First one I raised from a lamb. Treated him like a pet since I thought he had been wethered. (He was "castrated" with the burdizzo emasculator instead of an elastrator so we were unsure what it would look like. Apparently it wasn't successful.) He was aggressive and honestly I was scared of him. He would try to attack me through the fence. I took him to auction.

Second one I had for two years. He was calm when he was with other sheep, but when he was by himself he was aggressive. I avoided going in with him and I had it set up so I could feed and water over the fence. If I did have to go in with him, I would put a halter on him and lead him around with me. He never acted aggressive when it was like that. If I didn't have a halter on me, I took a piece of baling twin and tied it around his neck and lead him around like that. It had the same effect.

Third one I had for a few months and then I had him butchered. He was aggressive. He would come at me so I would go back at him and put him on the ground. I would get irritated with his disrespectful attitude so I would go at him as he was coming at me (or after he was done) and I would put him on the ground and lay on him. He would be good for a week or two and then he would need a lesson again. After he was done breeding he was promptly moved out of the ewe pasture into his own pen. I wasn't going to let him prevent me from enjoying my flock. My fiance's family ended up eating him.

Now I have one (son of the second one, maternal half brother of the first one) who is a total sweetheart. People say you shouldn't trust rams--and I agree--but I trust this one. He was born Feb 2014 and he is a total sweetheart. Doesn't always come up to me, but when he does he usually stands there and lets me touch him all over. Very complacent little creature. I was relatively hands off when I raised him (he was wild as are all my other lambs for the most part), he only got friendly when I penned him up away from ram #3 because ram #3 always went after this guy and there was an 80 lb +/- difference between the two. So it was for his protection. He is so well mannered that I can keep him with the ewes year round and he's in with the lambs no problem. He does get a little pushy at feeding time, but so does everyone else.
 

Baymule

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All of these methods of handling an aggressive ram are very educational to me. I have had a ram since June. So far he is not aggressive. :fl I observe all the proper "ram etiquette". I don't want an aggressive ram. I want to thank all of you who have told us your methods of handling your rams.
 

NH homesteader

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I intend to have sheep in the future so this is interesting to me as well. Personally I don't typically breed overly aggressive animals because aggression tends to be hereditary. But I don't know much about rams or the likelihood of finding one that isn't aggressive! I know one thing, I'm more likely to go with the tie him up route than the tackle him route if it becomes necessary, having a bad back and all! Thanks all for your insight!
 

Bossroo

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I personally don't think showing a ram who is The Boss is all about strength and brutality. Watch rams when they are 'sorting out the pecking order' in a field. A lot of posturing, coming up to each other and sizing each other up, humping and generally treating the other rams as though they are ewes on heat, but not so much real fighting.Unless they are pretty much size-matched, the less dominant ram often concedes defeat and aggressive fighting stops. (I accept this is not always the case).
I am about capable of wrestling a puppy to the ground, but almost always have managed to gain respect without ever resorting to either getting hurt or ever really hurting much more than any ram's pride. A short stick a sharp tap on the nose and a last minute side step (occasionally) have won the day every time (and I have had 50 or so sheep for over 10 years, so I'm not a total greenhorn). The one ram which I had about 5 years ago (Ivor the A***hole) who would always try to be dominant and had a permanent footprint on his unruly forehead was snapped up by my neighbour due to his physical appearance. (Neighbour has several thousand sheep, was made fully aware of his aggressive nature, and was still very keen to have him).
So, confront this young upstart, re-affirm who is Boss, and don't ever pat or rub his head which he may misinterpret (Besides which, at breeding season, they STINK!)

Good Luck
Back in the day when breeding wool sheep was profitable, I used to buy Ramboulett and Merino ram lambs and grow them out for Yearling Ram Sales. Now these ram lambs are all horned and the jousting was a daily occurnace on a 1/4 acre dry lot with up to 15 other horned yearling rams. Try walking into that every day to feed and attend to them for any minor sign of an injury or illness and not be challenged by several rams with raging hormones . I swear on a stack of Bibles that this is true as I had just came out first thing in the morning to feed and see it happen. One of my Suffolk ( polled ) yearling rams somehow managed to get into that dry lot at night that had a 12' alleyway between the dry lots to his with about 20 other Suffolk yearling rams. As I came into view, he was breathing heavily and foaming from his mouth while fighting 3 rams at the same time. He had just then MORTALLY WOUNDED one of the horned rams when butting heads and hit his rival's nasal bones which fractured them which in turn severed his blood vessels then drowned in his own blood. No short stick or a tap on the nose would discourage the rest of the rams from attacking anyone as most of them were having their own matches. It took hours before I could separate the combatants and catch the Suffolk with the help of 2 neighbors and by that time the injured ram was dead. We used Shepherds' Hooks to aid in the seperations and catching the Suffolk by his hind leg with the hook. I guess there may be a difference between a couple of rams and a whole bunch of rams in the same pen / pasture.
 

Baymule

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What a mess to have to deal with! That Suffolk ram was one big bad boy! Your narrative serves as a reminder to not ever turn our backs on a ram, whether we have one or a pasture full of them.
 

Sheepshape

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Testosterone has a lot to answer for! Those delightful little bundles of treble baaaahs, benign head rubs, and and lovely little faces transform into stinking, snorting hulks of muscle,horn and aggro if they are genetically determined so to do .Don't you just love them? (Maybe not so much!)

Suffice it to say that my one-eyed ram, Popeye, wasn't born a Cyclops. He's a gentle giant who happened to be in the path of an adolescent horned ram, all testosterone and no control buttons, and the gentle Popeye suffered severe concussion and eye loss as a result. All I suffered was a very reasonable vet bill for treatment and enucleation accompanied by praise from the vet about choosing treatment over euthanasia.The nasty Rastus, the aggressor suffered a less kindly fate.

The ram lambs who are programmed to be be aggressive usually show it early on......fighting with other lambs, being over-confident, chasing ewes at an early age. Even if very good examples of their breed type, I wouldn't keep them as they will be Trouble once puberty hits.There are plenty of good rams out there and (slightly more than) 50% of all lambs born will be ram lambs, so ditch mini Master Nasty before he becomes mega Mr Nightmare.

With regards to 'taming' rams which are yearlings or adults, take your pick as to which technique takes your fancy (or doesn't fill you with terror!) If it doesn't work for you, then get rid of him pretty smartly.

Have fun, folks!
 

WindyIndy

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Thank you all for the GREAT advice!

I haven't tried flipping him, I just don't think I could. I have though twisted his years, chased him, tied him up, walked him, and smacked him in the nose with my carrot stick when he's coming at me. That seems to be working for now. When I do get after him he will turn around and walk away like he's submitting, but as soon as I go to leave he's right back at it. One reason why if I have to walk though the pasture I tie him up, otherwise I'll do more guarding myself then my work. He seems to not be as bad now that it's colder, or could it just be a coincidence?

And when he's separated from the girls his in a pasture right next to them (they can even touch noses) and I put my wether goat in with him. Since I have put the goat in with him he seems to have calmed down some, thought my goat isn't too happy ;) I'll keep the ram with the girls until close to lambing time, that's what I did last year and it seemed to work out well.

PS: And as for rams stinking during breeding, I've never noticed a smell with Chewy :hu
 

Sheepshape

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PS: And as for rams stinking during breeding, I've never noticed a smell with Chewy :hu
My rams truly hum. A few weeks back I kept a bunch of ram lambs in the barn for a couple of hours before the guy who had bought them came with his trailer. When I opened the door, the smell nearly knocked us over.

Maybe some rams are stinkier than others, but that stink certainly ups many notches as the breeding season approaches (in line with the noticeable increase in 'scrotal girth').

I find the smell of ewes to be pleasant.....rams?....not so much!

It just occurs to me that ram stink may be one of those things that you can either smell or not due to inherited factors (like digesting the dye in beetroots).I honestly don't curl my top lip and point my nose in the air! It would be interesting to hear if other folk find rams very stinky!
 

Baymule

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I haven't noticed my ram being stinky. But I've only had him since June. Maybe there is a month or two where he decides to stink for awhile. :idunno
 
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