What are male sheep called?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Male sheep are called rams. Rams are adult male sheep that are primarily used for breeding purposes and for wool production. They play a crucial role in the reproduction and genetic improvement of sheep flocks. Rams can vary in size and appearance depending on the breed, but they are generally larger and more muscular than female sheep, known as ewes.

One distinguishing characteristic of rams is their ability to develop large, curved horns on their heads. However, it’s important to note that not all rams have horns. Some breeds of sheep are naturally polled, meaning they do not have horns. This trait can be desirable in certain farming systems where horned sheep may pose safety risks or difficulties during handling and management.

In terms of behavior, rams are known for their assertiveness and territorial nature, especially during the breeding season. They establish dominance within the flock by engaging in head-butting contests with other rams. This behavior helps determine the hierarchy and ensures that the strongest ram mates with the ewes to produce robust offspring.

Rams are carefully selected for breeding based on their genetic traits, such as body conformation, wool quality, and disease resistance. Farmers often choose rams with desirable traits to improve the overall quality and productivity of their flock. This selective breeding can lead to the development of specific sheep breeds that excel in certain characteristics, such as fine wool production or meat quality.

In addition to breeding, rams also contribute to wool production. Their fleeces can be sheared to obtain high-quality wool, which is used in various textile industries. The wool from rams is typically coarser and thicker than that of ewes, making it suitable for certain applications where durability is important.

Having worked on a sheep farm myself, I have experienced firsthand the important role rams play in the overall management of a flock. Their presence brings a sense of vitality and energy to the group, especially during the breeding season. I vividly remember the sight of rams strutting around, displaying their dominance and seeking out the receptive ewes for mating.

Rams are adult male sheep used for breeding and wool production. They may or may not have horns, depending on the breed. Rams contribute significantly to the genetic improvement of sheep flocks and play a vital role in the production of high-quality wool. Their assertive nature and territorial behavior during the breeding season are fascinating to observe.