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Signs of dominance

Generally, the dominant ram will face other sheep and the subordinates, both male and female, will turn around. Mounting a subordinate male or female, without fear of reprisal, is a means of asserting dominance, although females rarely mount each other.

The Mating Season

Ewes will come into season naturally in the late autumn and generally if the ram is put with the ewes on Bonfire Night (5th November) lambing will start on 1st April. The rams will curl their lips and approach the ewe in a low stretch from behind, nuzzling her rear. If the ewe urinates in response, the urine will flow over the lips of the ram and then the lip curls. The purpose of this display is unclear although it is thought that the ram can tell by smell whether the ewe is in season. Prior to mating the ram will move the female away from the rest of the flock and chase off any other rams. The gestation period is 147 days, just short of 5 calendar months.

Rams should be withdrawn to their ram group about 6 weeks after tupping, otherwise they are likely to bully the ewes off their food

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Cathy Cassie

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Carol Kempson

Rams need company

Never keep rams on their own as all sheep are sociable animals and they have a strong instinct to relate to other sheep. Ram owners must expect to sustain a certain amount of damage to property such as broken fence posts and gates. When entering a ram area, it is wise to be armed with a stick and turning one’s back on a ram must be avoided. Where a troublesome ram becomes too aggressive to handle, the animal should be slaughtered and must not be sold on.

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