Annual Growth

annual growth in rams AND EWES

Annual Soay sheep horn growth revisited

Annual Soay sheep horn growth revisited

Every year at the winter solstice, usually December 21st, sheep horns (and for that matter all heritage sheep and other mammals’ horns as far as I have been able to determine) begin growing, a process that lasts for about three months and then tapers off through the spring and stops until the next December. To […]

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Soay Sheep Horns, Part 2: When to trim or not trim

Soay Sheep Horns, Part 2: When to trim or not trim

In my last post, I talked about how sheep horns grow and what shapes they can take, and I touched on the issue of when horns need to be cut for health reasons.  Here I will walk you through a more detailed horn evaluation of two rams and then provide a pictorial demonstration of how […]

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Soay Sheep Horns, Part 1: How they grow and what they look like

Soay Sheep Horns, Part 1: How they grow and what they look like

Soay sheep horns come in all sizes and shapes. The rams may have tightly spiraled horns; thick horns of varying diameters; horns tilted at an angle before turning back in a corkscrew (or remaining in a flat plane); open, wide-angled spirals in the shape of a Celtic “M”; and everything in between. There’s more: the spiral […]

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Horn growth update — what about the gimmers?

Horn growth update — what about the gimmers?

Several readers brought me up short by chastising me for unfairly omitting the yearling ewes (gimmers) from my report on the late-winter spurt of ram horn growth.  I was tempted to ignore their criticisms, so certain was I that only rams could possibly exhibit dramatic horn growth.  But then good manners and a little nagging voice in my head prevailed, and it was back to […]

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Ram horn growth:  another harbinger of spring

Ram horn growth: another harbinger of spring

When last we met to discuss signs of spring, the topic was chicken eggs.  It’s about time to re-direct attention to Soay sheep, don’t you think? Every year along about January or early February, our previous spring’s ram lambs — what I refer to loosely as our “yearlings” — begin an impressive growth spurt which by the end of summer will take them nearly […]

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