Are Sheep Dangerous?
Sometimes, people get confused about whether or not, sheep are aggressive. So, if you’re of the view that they are aggressive, or you strongly believe that they aren’t, nevertheless, we are going to arrive at a neutral answer by the time we get to the end of this write-up.
Generally, they are peaceful but – Yes – They can be Very Aggressive Under certain Circumstances. When they Feel Threatened. When the Breeding season is taking Place and rams are Fighting for Dominance. They also can be very protective of their Young. Are Sheep Dangerous?
But before we proceed into answering that question, let’s first have a look at some facts about sheep, so that we can arrive at a more justifiable answer.
Important Facts About Sheep
- Just like the cows that love walking in groups, a sheep is a flock animal that also loves grazing in a herd, move together, and lie together at the same place. Plus, sheep are gregarious in nature. They love walking in herds because, they feel stronger when they hang around in groups, which is one of the means through which they get to protect themselves from predators.
They Stay In Groups
And the beautiful part about sheep is that they are bonded by breed. That is, even if you mix them together with other breeds, each breed will somehow locate where its kind is, and then walk in the group once more. Other than the ants, sheep are the most organized and bonded creatures.
- Also, the flocking instinct in sheep varies depending on the breeds. That is, one breed could have a stronger affinity to the flock, than other breeds of sheep. For instance, the fine wool breeds (Merino, Debouillet, Rambouillet, and so on) are known to have the strongest urge to flock. While other breeds like hill prevalent such as (Blackfaces, Lonk, Swaledale, and so on, are known to have a lesser affinity to flock together.
In addition to that, countries, where predators are most likely to attack sheep, is where you’ll find sheep that love flocking together. In other words, they stay together in order to protect themselves from attacks by natural predators like coyotes, wolves, lions, and so on.
- Just as sheep have the urge to flock together, they also have the instinct to follow. And this is often applicable when one sheep decides to go somewhere, and the rest follows him. In other words, they don’t care whether it’s a bad decision or not, all they know is that they’ll have to follow.
Now, here is how it generally works. The eldest member of the flock will lead the way, while the rest will follow him. Or, the lambs will instinctively follow their mothers, and other senior members of the flock, wherever they go. However, this instinct to flock together, are only possible when they are four or more sheep.
Also, older Sheep will become aggressive if the Startled or Young are Threatened.
- Today, a lot of shepherds have taken advantage of sheep’s flocking behavior in that, they’ve used the opportunity to keep the sheep together, even in unguarded or unfenced pastures and hill farms.
Plus, they have used the sheep’s flocking behavior to move a large number of sheep over ground and terrain, sometimes through the assistance of sheepdogs or any other herding dogs. In other cases, sheep farmers lead sheep with a bucket of feed, instead of being herded. And as soon as one sheep moves towards the feeds, others will follow suit.
- In contrary to the belief that every sheep roams free even in unfenced land, each sheep has its own territory, a place it takes as home. For instance, some hills breed of sheep can be hefted to particular pastures, and do not just roam around. The thing here is that hefting is passed down from a ewe to its lamb. So, it’s kind of hereditary.
So, even when hefted sheep are taken down to a farm to give birth, dip, shear, and so on, they will always find their way back to their “home” (territories), once released.
Hefting is by far one of the oldest ways of managing sheep on pastures and hills, hefting is considered to be the most old-fashioned way, thus, if a flock is ever culled and the skill is lost along the way; it will have to be taught again.
- If an individual sheep is ever separated from the group they will become agitated, they won’t feel safe when they’re on their own. Once separated, a sheep will try to run back to the flock if given the chance.
- Healthy sheep are always alert and curious at all times; given that they are natural prey for most predators. Plus, naturally, they are often wary of humans. So, if you can easily approach a sheep and handle it, without it retreating, then that means there is either something wrong, or the sheep is sick.
- Land Requirements – Suggested 2 Sheep per Acre
- Depending on Size – Sheep will eat approx 3 Lbs of Feed per day
- Sheep can live on Just Grazing Grass
- Sheep are vulnerable to Predators – Dogs, Wolves, Mountain Lions
- Sheep are Generally Hearty and not Prone to Disease
- Sheep are Prone to Parasites
- Texas Hair Sheep is Profitable to Raise – Mostly in Flocks of 200+
- Some Graden Plants are Poisonous to Sheep – lily of Valley, Azealia, Foxglove, castor Bean tree, Oleander, Camelia
- Oats and barley can be fed to sheep % 20-30 levels
- Best Sheep grazing is Clovers and Mixed Grasses
- Sheep will eat Grasses to Roots – Best to rotate pastures to cope with this
- Rotating pastures also cuts back on Parasites
- Most Lightly Moldy hay will not hurt Livestock
- Best Sheep Bedding – Straw – Woodchip – sawdust – Paper
- Sheep must be sheared – they do not naturally Shed – too much hair will result in Overheating – Complications possible Death – maggots – Parasites that can live in abundance of Dirty Matted Hair
- Generally, Sheep Follow someone who will Feed Them – They are commonly herded with Dogs
- Sheep have been knowing to recognize people for Years – Relative High Intelligence
- Sheep farmers – generally worm sheep Twice a Year
- Sheep and Goats can be cross-bred – generally, the Offspring is Still Born
- Sheep Milk is used for Cheeses – Feta – Ricotta – Roquefort
- Many Sheep have their Tails Docked to keep clean from manure
- Sheep are Raised for Meat – Mutton, Lamb – Wool – Milk – for cheeses
- Sheep Pens are Called – Foldings – Sheep folds
- bedding is used to help Support Sheeps Body Weight when laying Down
- Sheepskin is used for – leather – Clothing – hats – Slippers – Rugs
- Do Sheep bite – Any animal can Bite – Sheeps Teeth are made for Grazing so they are Flat for Grinding Grasses
- Rams can be very Aggresive during the rut – have been knowing to Kill a Person
- Sheep generally Stay Outdoors all the Time – Will seek shelter if weather is adverse
- Rams are Generally the More Aggressive
However, this isn’t applicable to pet sheep or those that are pregnant. I’m talking about those that graze out on their own. And speaking of pet sheep.
- Every pet sheep is often very tame, as they’ll bang into you and make an effort to nuzzle anyone, in an attempt to get food. If your pet sheep don’t act this way, then it means there is something wrong, and you need to pay close attention to the sheep by calling your vet doctor.
- And lastly, when a pregnant ewe is ready to give birth. She is going to automatically withdraw herself from the herd, and move towards places like trees, a wall, hedge and so on. Thus, if you see this happening, then you need to understand that she is about to give birth to her lamb. If you have a space inside your farm, you could take her there to make the delivery.
ARE SHEEP AGGRESSIVE?
So, having known all about sheep, do you think they are aggressive? Well, the answer to that is no and yes, and here is why.
By nature, sheep are non-aggressive animals, that’s why they often try to flee from any threat or predators that try to attack them. However, ewes with lambs and rams of breeding age are often an exception to this meek nature. This is because, a ewe with newborn lambs, will always try to stamp their hoof and head-butt a threat, whenever they feel threatened by it.
Rams – Need Management
On the path of breeding rams, they use butting to gather up their strength, and to establish a strong hierarchy within the herd. This is why the strongest rams, always earn the right to breed with the ewes. And most often, this strength behavior by rams often comes just before the breeding season when the ewe’s estrus(heat) cycle begins.
They Are Especially Aggressive During Rut – Farmers Sheep farmers say that Children should be kept clear of the sheep during this period. Some Farms keep Rams for Breeding, others artificially inseminate the Ewes, and Others Rent a Ram for Rut season. Rams are very aggressive during Breeding, you must maintain strong fencing they can do a lot of Damage Butting with their heads.
They will Challenge each other and establish a Hierarchy for Breeding.
Mother Protection Instincts
So, as meek and gentle as a sheep may be, never trust a ram or a nursing ewe. Plus, never turn your back on a ram, as they could use that opportunity to attack you, thus causing a serious injury. The Motherly Instinct to protect their Young is Very Strong if she perceives the lamb is in any danger.
Methods to handle an Aggressive Sheep
- Need to be Handled by Experienced Person – Poorly handled Sheep can become aggressive
- Allow them Time to Calm Down –
- Keep Them Separated –
- Sheep have a Flight Tendency rather than Conflict – always give them an escape route
- Never take your eyes off of them – Never trust a Ram
- Overly aggressive sheep should be culled
- Do not scratch Rams on the top of the head – they may interpret it as a sign of aggression and challenge you
- Eyes are usually only ever aggressive after Lambing
- Never put yourself between a Ewe and her Young
- Do Not wear Bright Clothing – it excites them – Avoid Eye Contact
- If a ram is Backing away from you he might be planning a charge – walk toward him
- Stand your Ground – if he is charging – sidestep him as he tries to Butt you – He will be confused he was expecting a Butt
- If Needed you can wrestle a Ram to the ground by grabbing both his Horns
- Rams are quick they can Reach a speed of 40MPH
- Never push against a Ram’s head – it is a sign of a challenge
- Rams can kill a Cat or a Dog if it perceives it as a threat
- Normally a sheep / Ram will try to escape avoid cornering them
- never have your head at the same level of the Ram – always have yours higher than his – remember they attack by butting Heads.
Sheep Are Generally Very Docile and Passive Livestock to Raise. As with all animals when threatened, cornered, sensing they are in danger is when aggression usually arises. Protection of Young and hierarchy during the Breeding season are common to all Animals