rising testosterone

The rams are looking better, after a series of foot bathing [wet summers are bad for sheep’s feet]  and a gradual increase in their daily feed ration of barley as we prepare them for the breeding season. As the days shorten their testosterone levels naturally increase and this leads to bouts of fighting amongst the group.

There are always one or two very dominant rams in a group, but one of the worst offenders in the group for fighting had to be put down after ripping his ear almost clean off in a fight. He was an old ram, and was going to be sold this year anyway but his cantankerous nature obviously hastened his end. Instead of a trip to the processing plant he was dealt with at home, which I am sure is probably preferable anyway.

Any new rams brought in to the flock during the next couple of months have to be kept completely separate otherwise serious injury or death can occur. As Jethro turns them out with the ewes late in the breeding season, in mid November, the daily fracas can become quite serious as the testosterone levels rise even further and their frustration mounts. However, as we lamb the flock outdoors we prefer to start the birthing season around the 10th April as we hope to benefit from warmer weather and plenty of grass which reduces both the labour costs and inputs (feed).

We only mix the rams together again in January when they come back to a field close to home after a couple of months out with the ewes. At this point they are much quieter with no fight left in them, until Autumn comes again.

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Filed under Country Life, food and farming, rural musings, Life

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