August 2021

Rutting Rams

The rut, or breeding season, is officially underway and will extend through November for our local Peninsular bighorn. Rams are roaming the hills and can lose up to 25% of their body weight during the rut as they travel miles searching for ewes to breed. In fact, we had a young ram hanging around our property checking out the captive ewes. He must have been confused and a bit miffed with our fence keeping him out so he eventually moved on. Rams will smell a ewe’s urine and do a “lip curl” to see if she’s in estrous and receptive to being bred. They have a Jacobson’s organ on the roof of their mouth that senses pheromones present when ewes are in estrous. It’s always an exciting and nerve-racking time of year watching the rams battle and chase the ewes. While the sheep are not aggressive, it may be wise to steer clear of these hyper-focused rams if you happen to encounter them. You could be standing between a ram and the next object of his affection. (Pictured: The ram on the left is doing a lip curl).