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Why is handling/petting/socializing with your ram not recommended?

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Sheep' started by Rae D., Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Oct 10, 2017
    Rae D.

    Rae D. Exploring the pasture

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    So, I've been reading a lot in these forums, and I apologize if this is covered somewhere, but I was a little surprised and confused at all the posts that imply that handling and petting a ram is bad?

    I have two dorpers - one male, one female. The male's mom died at birth, so he was a bottle baby and is now almost five months old. He is super, super friendly and will let anyone approach him. I ended up in this forum looking for some advice now that he's begun ramming us here and there (it doesn't hurt, but I also get it eventually will) as for how to curb the behavior. But I was confused as many comments seemed to infer handling/petting/socializing with your ram isn't preferred. Can anyone fill me in as to why?
     
    CntryBoy777 likes this.
  2. Oct 10, 2017
    Roving Jacobs

    Roving Jacobs Seeing Spots

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    The problem becomes when your ram is overly friendly and socialized to humans and starts treating humans like other sheep. A ram can seriously injure someone and it's best for them to have a healthy respect for us big naked monkeys. Too many people start out playing with a cute baby lamb and end up with a 200+ lb ram with problem behaviors they didn't curb from the start. It's easier to prevent those problems by having your ram lambs learn there is nothing exciting or fun about humans at all than to try to train out naughty behaviors in an overly enthusiastic ram with bad habits.

    That being said I don't believe in never touching my rams or having them terrified of me. A terrified ram is just as dangerous as an overly friendly ram. I pet them (under the chin and when I decide to, no pushy rams get pet) and handle them fairly regularly. They just have learned I am in control by being halter trained, or, if they need a real come to Jesus moment, getting flipped until they chill out. When I walk into the ram pasture my boys don't even look up from grazing and that's how I like it.
     
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  3. Oct 10, 2017
    maritown

    maritown Overrun with beasties

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    I don't have sheep, but I do have goats and two bucks. If I could go back in time I would absolutely not socialize them as well as I did.

    I agree that you don't want them fearful of you. But the line should end at "feed-giver" and not at "friend" with male animals (imo). There is nothing worse than a testosterone filled creature who thinks it's great fun to rub and climb and hit all over you. Both of my bucks are VERY friendly and as much as I love them, they will always be stinky aggressive animals when in rut. Mixed with an absolute love for their human (me) with no fear, makes for some very smelly, bruised days.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2017 at 2:57 AM
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape True BYH Addict

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    Conventional wisdom is that petting rams is a bad idea. This is sterling advice.

    Some of us have pet adult rams. They do exist. They are born that way, with placid, friendly natures.

    Many ( most) are not born that way, they are rams. Often more friendly and sociable as lambs than ewe lambs, ram lambs transmogrify into stinking heaps of aggression once testosterone takes its grip. I have one such lamb right now. A bottle lamb who was very bold and preferred human to sheep company, he has changed quite suddenly. His loving head rubs start that way and quickly transform into head butts, never hard to date, but head butts. I no longer allow him to head rub, don't turn my back on him, tap him on the nose if he starts to become too familiar, and have a date set for him to go to market.

    The ram lamb who will become a pet ram? He accepts you as 'Boss' from the outset. NEVER shows you any attitude. NEVER treats you like another sheep.....if he does, then at some time he will try to challenge your 'Top Ram' position.I've found my Blue Faced Leicesters are much more likely to be that way, whereas the smaller breeds usually aren't.

    Personally I'm very fond of these soft rams. They often pass on their personality to their offspring and you end up with an 'easy to manage' flock.

    Rae D......try tapping him on his nose if he shows any inclination to head butt. Try physically throwing him over to show you are boss. BUT, if he fails to show due respect very quickly I would 'show him the door'
     
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  5. Oct 11, 2017 at 6:26 PM
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    I carried a plastic grocery bag in my pocket. My ram hit me a few times, so I flapped the bag at him, ran at him waving the bag and yelling. He ran. I chased him, to let him know that I was top ram, NOT him.
     
  6. Oct 11, 2017 at 7:39 PM
    Mike CHS

    Mike CHS Herd Master

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    I also carry a grocery bag but I have never had to use it. Our wether males are handled a lot and are also easy to turn away if they get too friendly. Our breeding ram weighs almost 300 lbs and you aren't going to flip him even if you try. He is in the breeding paddock with the ewes and although he isn't as friendly as when he was by himself and the wethers, he has shown no sign of aggression. Even though in breeding mode he will still come up for an Animal Cracker but his nature is docile although not submissive. He could care less where I am in the pasture since his nose is always working to see which ewe is ready. I still keep my eye on him even though he has never done anything.
     
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