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The Song and Dance of Breeding Season

Ask the Shepherd

The song and dance of breeding season has begun on our farm! As the days shorten and the temperatures drop, ewes begin to cycle and the rams begin to pine away at the fence line. Once the rams are turned in with the ewes, the dance begins. A new shepherd wrote to me the other day asking why her ewes were not interested in her ram. She wondered if she should take the ram out because he seemed to be bothering the ewes. I assured her that this is all part of the wooing process and to leave the ram in.

The Song and Dance of Breeding Season

The ram’s presence helps stimulate the ewes normal cycle. Removing the ram, simply delays this process. Typical ram behavior includes lip curling, pining at the fence line, pawing the ewe from the side with head hung low, and making a low rattling sound or even a low bleating.


Ewes are not receptive to the ram’s attempts to woo her unless she is cycling. Until then, she runs from the ram. Sometimes there can be a bit of a chase in the field between ram and ewe. Once the ewe ovulates, she willingly participates in the courtship and allows the ram to mount her for breeding. I can tell when my Gotland ram has bred all of his ewes, as he stands at the fence line, looking longingly for more ewes to breed.

Our 2018 lambs are expected to start arriving April 5th. Contact us if you would like to be put on our Gotland lamb waiting list!


2 Responses

  1. Lydia Strand

    The lip curling is called a Flehmen response. The behavior happens because of a small organ, often referred to as a scent gland above the roof of the mouth. It is a way for the animal to collect pheromones via this organ.

    • Kim Goodling

      Yes, I have read about that! It is all so amazing!