Why Do Rams Ram Each Other?

February 15, 2024

Rams headbutt each other to establish dominance hierarchy in a flock, similar to a chicken coop pecking order. They use a variety of behaviors to do this, but head-to-head contact is the most dramatic.

When rams ram each other, their large coiled horns absorb much of the force. They also have small "hinges" in their skulls that allow them to flex slightly, and their necks are very strong. Unfortunately, even with these adaptations, rams can still sustain injuries from headbutting, including fractured bones and bruising.

It's important to avoid rams that have a history of aggression by watching for "pre-charge" signals. They often back away, paw the ground or make vocalizations before a charge. If you see a ram starting to headbutt, try to get him to orient his body towards an immovable object (like a fence or tractor). This will confuse him and prevent him from seeing you as an opponent and may stop him from charging.

If you have a headbutting ram, it is best to remove him from the herd for his own safety and to reduce the chances of injury to other rams and humans. This can be a difficult decision, but if the ram is a known aggressor, early preventative measures have failed, or the risk of injury to people is too great, this is usually the best option.

Rams need to be reintroduced after breeding season and shearing, as well as anytime they are separated for any length of time. This will allow them to establish hierarchy in a safe, protected environment.


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