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Bighorn Sheep Guide

Lambs

Bighorn sheep ewe and lamb.

Bighorn sheep ewe and lamb

  • Weigh from 8 to 10 pounds at birth and grow to 70-90 pounds at 8-10 months of age.
  • Are the smallest sheep in body and horn size.
  • Shed wooly juvenile coat between August and October and grow coat similar to adults.

Ewes (Adult Females)

Bighorn Sheep Ewe.

Ewes have a narrow horn base and less divergent horns than young rams.

  • Are the most often seen class of bighorn sheep.
  • Reach adult proportions at 4-5 years.
  • Weigh from 130-160 pounds.

Young Rams (1 to 2 years)

Bighorn Sheep.

Ewes and young rams have similar appearance.

  • Have approximately the same body and horn size as adult females (0-1/4 curl).
  • Weigh from 130-160 pounds.
  • Have slightly wider horn base and more divergent horns than ewes.
  • Have hair on the back of the neck is slightly longer than ewes, giving young rams a more chunky appearance.
  • Look more lamb-like in face than adult rams.
  • May have testes visible at 18 months (December), if it is an exceptionally well-developed yearling rams.

Adult Rams (3 to 4 years)

Covering the den.

A full frontal or broadside view is best for judging the size of the ram. (Never judge a rams size from behind.) Hunters should look at several rams for comparison, rather than shooting the first one seen.

  • Legal Ram
    • You can make a straight line extending from the front base of the horn through any portion of the eye opening intercept any portion of the horn.
  • Base of the horn
    • The point where the horn meets the hairline of the head.
  • Mature Ram
    • Has a hump on their shoulders when viewed broadside
    • The lower curve of the horn of a large ram drops below the line of the chin.
    • Horns have broomed.
    • Horns have large second and third quarter circumferences.

Horns Tell the Age

Horns tell us the age of rams, and a little less accurately, the age of ewes. Since a lamb grows its first set of horns by six months, and its second horn segment by eighteen months, the number of horn segments of a ram taken in the fall is actually one more than his actual age. For example, a ram with ten horn segments is actually 9.5 years old. In old ewes, the horns may not grow every year, so their horns may only tell their minimum age. In young ewes, the count of horn segments is probably accurate.