Anyone experience a ram not being ok with separation from adult ewes?

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1 year 3 months ago #558431 by BenH86
Hi there, we would love some insight please. 

Our 7,5 year old Wiltshire ram we have had almost 5 years, and he has always stayed with the ewes year round. Unfortunately this year we have to go overseas during our usual lambing season (late June-July) so in order to push it out until mid August when we are back, we have separated the ram from the ewes for the first time. He is in with the freezer lambs (two ewes and a wether) He is however quite unhappy about this situation, not eating much and just standing head down or lying around. Following the others around ok but just not interested in joining them grazing like usual. Tonight we found one of the ewes hopped a few fences to get to him and they were grooming one another through the fence. 
Anyone else experience anything like this? is it just a matter of hanging in there? Better if they can or can’t see/smell each other?
We do realise he is an older fellow but would like to keep him as most ewes have triplets every year. 
He seems to be in good condition and health otherwise. Has a few sebaceous lumps, had a foot sole abscess and a wound on his chest between his front legs last month which we treated and gave pain relief and antibiotics for. 

According to out calculations to be safe we’d have to keep them separate until end of March which is a long way away still..

Any help will be much appreciated :)

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1 year 3 months ago #558433 by Ruth
They're herd/flock animals. They also make friends. We all felt miserable when we had to stop seeing people three years ago and many people have never fully recovered from the disruption. Animals really aren't that different.

But your decision is a very sensible and responsible one and it's not as if you've left him on his own.

Don't expect him to come right in a hurry: my own informing experience was with a cow who had an important friendship I'd noticed but didn't consider when I wanted to sell the friend to someone starting a breeding herd. My cow was depressed for almost the entire year following the separation. That convinced me that grief can be long and strong in some animals, just as in some people (and I am by nature more into science than anthropomorphism but I'm beginning to think science misses a great deal in these areas).

Perhaps the ewe returning to be near him is giving a clue to what might help: can you run at least some of the ewes, including that one, next to the paddock/s he grazes? If anyone gets in with him, make a careful note of the date, so that if there is to be a lambing, you at least have a good idea of when it will happen, in case you have to have someone to check on them for you. (Where in the country are you?)

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1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #558436 by tonybaker
In my experience, Wiltshires are more than capable of lambing without any human intervention! I have always left my ram in with the flock as he is an essential part of their family, no wonder he is getting upset now. Ewes don't need you hovering around so as long as you make sure water is available they will be fine.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)
Last edit: 1 year 3 months ago by tonybaker.

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1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #558439 by BenH86
Thank you.
Just letting them side by side wasn’t enough as she would still hang out with the rest of the flock more, so we have let that ewe in the paddock with him. He seems very happy again now.

We are still keeping the others separate as there are new ewe lambs we purchased and intend to keep on. (but do not want getting pregnant yet.)

Fingers crossed all goes well.

We do have a house sitter but in our experience they do not look at the sheep as well as you’d like. They’ve never had lambing issues, but it being triplets they do need some help in the first week to make sure all are ok.

We live in South Taranaki 
Last edit: 1 year 3 months ago by BenH86.

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1 year 2 months ago #558502 by Inger
We only have the rams in with the ewes during breeding season, which for us, starts the beginning of May, so they can lamb in October.

Outside of breeding season, the rams and sometimes a wether or two, are all kept in the ram paddock, which is strongly fenced, so we don't get early lambs.

Since the rams are used to this routine, they don't get depressed over being separated from the ewes once they've finished their job.

Having a definite date that the rams go in, makes it much easier for reckoning the start of lambing. There is a curcular breeding chart which farming stores can stock or they're available from the Shoof catalogue. They're available for a variety of animals. We found that the sheep lambing dates are too early by about a week for our Witshires. I'm guessing it's just an average for many sheep breeds.

By the way, the triplets are due to your ewes being prolific breeders, not the ram. He can only fertilise the number of eggs that are released by the ewe.

In saying that, putting the ewes next to the ram's paddock, a cycle before you add him to the ewes, is a good way of stimulating higher ovulation in the second cycle. His aromatic hormones kick-start the ewes ovaries. Rams aren't quite as smelly as a male goat during breeding season, but you can definitely notice an increase in their male scent.

45 hectares between Whangarei and Paparoa. Registered Dexter cattle, Wiltshire sheep - black, white & pied.
New Hampshire Red poultry & Dorking poultry. Pilgrim Geese, Appleyard Ducks.
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