why do rams like to, uh, ram things?

Inspired by this bizarro encounter between a motorcyclist and a ram (skip the first 15 seconds).

Why does the ram have such a bad attitude toward this rider and/or his bike? Are rams territorial? Does he somehow think this is another ram who might steal his ewe (even though neither the rider nor his bike look anything like a ram, and there’s no ewe in sight)?

Better yet, how do you keep a ram from ramming you, when it’s just you and him out in the open?

Yes, rams are territorial, and macho, and competitive, and stupid (they’re sheep, after all). Butting is how they fight against other rams for territory, status, and mates, and so it’s also how they fight anything else they feel a need to compete with.

And I don’t know how you keep a ram from ramming you when it’s just you and him, but I do know how you do it if it’s two people and him: You stay spaced apart, and whenever the ram starts charging one of you, that person falls down flat while the other one makes progress, then switch roles when he charges the other one. This was the only way my grandmother and her brother were able to cross the field to do their chores.

So if you stay down on the ground they leave you alone?

You get away by jumping over the fence, in my experience. Yes, they’re territorial, they have a hierarchy of dominance and they like to err… ram. And also, as Chronos said, they’re stupid.

If a male sheep is a ram, and a male goose is a gander, why is a ram in the ass called a goose?

Are you sure that isn’t a ram in the jenny?

Maybe not rams, but we had a bull like that when I was a kid. We found a way to keep him from ramming us–he was delicious.

I would guess it’s the same reason cats like to scratch things.

It’s like getting in shape for contests with other rams to see who gets to ram a female.

You know, like male deer (bucks?) like to do to see who is the strongest.

Because they’re rams… duh. :rolleyes:

I think it is the same answer as why do guys like to blow things up.

Yep. It’s the dubious joys of sexual selection at work. As a general rule, if an animal competes for mates by doing X, the ones who enjoy X will be better at it, and thus more likely to reproduce. Given sufficient time, pretty much all of them will enjoy it.

Serious answer: To keep them from ramming you, kick them HARD square in the nuts. Never turn your back to them, and be ready to dodge if they try (pretty easy). Then, kick them again.

Its funny to watch two rams in action. They stand next to each other, north and south, and will just take turns kicking each other in the sack! Then they face off and bang heads, with the occasional “chicken run”, where one will take a run, and stop just short. Barnyard comedy gold.

They generally don’t ram you out in the open, but when cornered or threatened. They often stomp their foot beforehand also, so you get a little warning. Remember, don’t turn your back to them.

What happens if you turn your back, do they kick you in the nuts?

I’ll take a gander at my dictionary and report back.

Mary had a little sheep
And with her sheep she went to sleep
The sheep turned out to be a ram
So Mary had a little lamb

Fuckin’ A! What a story!

And now look at you.

Ok, then I have a serious question in response to your serious answer: If a ram is charging AT you, that means they’re coming in head-first. How do you manage to kick 'em in the wooly family jewels if you don’t have the legs of Stretch Armstrong?

What are the consequences of getting rammed? That is, how severely are they likely to injure you? Are we talking about a bruise, or broken bones, or fatal injuries, or what? And what do they do once they’ve hit you – do they continue to attack in some other way, or do they back up to ram you again, or do they leave you alone?

I have been chased by a ram. It is not at all fun. I was in a shed so hung from the rafters to avoid him, but if he’d hit me I am certain he would’ve broken my legs.

Ah! When they charge, they tend to lower their head and then can’t see you very well. This is why they are pretty easy to dodge. Step to one side or the other (they WILL occasionally get you!) and as they shoot past, deliver a speculative Thunder Kick to the sack. You can’t get a good shot at them till you dodge and they pass. If your back is to them, they just hit you. Maybe knock you down and hurt you.

It sounds harsh, but it really doesn’t seem to hurt them. Gets their attention, however. Once or twice and they learn not to mess with you (but they are stupid, and won’t remember long. Get comfortable kicking shoes). Every now and then you get a habitual rammer, and they are dangerous, and best kept in a secure pen. Or dealt with “otherwise”. Its my wife that is the dirty sheep farmer and has had a few of these that inevitably end up at the auction for dog food or whatever they do with them. I just drive the truck. Luckily, most of them are pretty sheepish. (pardon the pun)

Another nugget of wisdom: Never lower your head down near an agressive ram. If they butt you, that thick skull of theirs will shatter yours.