Environmental factors and sexual development of rams and goats

  • Rodolfo Ungerfeld Universidad de la República
Keywords: Nutrition, Pheromones, Seasonality, Sexual behavior, Socio-sexual stimuli, dominance


Although frequently the development period of rams and goats that will be used as breeders are not considered as productive periods, this period can have important consequences on their future reproductive performance. The birth season, the nutrition received during the fetal life and after birth, the bond with their mother, considering that it is a highly selective species, the social environment (presence or absence of females), and the individual social status of each male can have important consequences in the reproductive development. In addition, in some the consequences are also observed during adult life. In general, greater effects are observed in sexual behavior than in the production of semen. However, the available information is still partial to know the potential impacts of these factors on the reproductive performance of rams and goats.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Rodolfo Ungerfeld, Universidad de la República
Ph. D. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences , Suecia


Abud MJ, Bielli A, Ithurralde J, Freitas-de-Melo A, Álvarez-Oxiley A, López-Pérez A, Ungerfeld R, Pérez-Clariget R, 2018. Male lambs undernourished in utero establish a priority hierarchy in organ growth, with central nervous system and heart as first and carcass and external genitalia as last priorities. Submitted.

Al-Nakib FMS, Lodge GA, Owen JB. 1986. A study of sexual development of ram lambs. Animal Production 43: 459-468.

Alvez P, Morales-Piñeyrua JT, Ungerfeld R., 2011a. Efecto de la jerarquía social sobre el desarrollo en corderos con libre disponibilidad de alimento: I. peso corporal, circunferencia escrotal y testosterona. 9º Simposio Internacional de Reproducción Animal, Córdoba, Argentina.

Alvez P, Morales-Piñeyrua JT, Ungerfeld R., 2011b. Efecto de la jerarquía social sobre el desarrollo en corderos con libre disponibilidad de alimento: II. Características seminales. 9º Simposio Internacional de Reproducción Animal, Córdoba, Argentina.

Bielli A, Pérez-Clariget R, Pedrana G, Milton JTB, Lopez Á, Blackberry MA, Duncombe G, Rodriguez-Martinez H, Martin GB, 2002. Low maternal nutrition during pregnancy reduces the number of Sertoli cells in the newborn lamb. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 14: 333-337.

Bielli A, Katz H, Pedrana G, Gastel MT, Moraña A, Castrillejo A, Lundeheim N, Forsberg M, Rodriguez-Martinez H, 2001. Nutritional management during fetal and postnatal life, and the influence on testicular stereology and Sertoli cell numbers in Corriedale ram lambs. Small Ruminant Research 40: 63-71.

Bronson FH, 1989. Mammalian reproductive biology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Casteilla L, Orgeur P, Signoret JP, 1987. Effects of rearing conditions on sexual performance in the ram: practical use. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 19: 111-118.

Chemineau P, Delgadillo JA, 1993. Reproductive neuroendocrinology in goats. Revista Científica FCV-LUZ 3: 113−121.

Damián JP, Beracochea F, Machado S, Hötzel MJ, Banchero G, Ungerfeld R, 2017a. Growing without a mother results in poorer sexual behaviour in adult rams. Animal 12: 98-105.

Damián JP, Hötzel MJ, Banchero G, Ungerfeld R, 2017b. Competition for oestrous ewes between rams reared by their mothers or artificially reared: Effects on sexual behaviour and testosterone and cortisol serum concentrations. Theriogenology 100: 134-138.

Damián JP, Beracochea F, Hötzel MJ, Banchero G, Ungerfeld R, 2015. Reproductive and sexual behaviour development of dam or artificially reared male lambs. Physiology & Behavior 147: 47-53.

Delgadillo JA, De Santiago-Miramontes MA, Carrillo E, 2007. Season of birth modifies puberty in female and male goats raised under subtropical conditions. Animal 1: 858-864.

Dwyer CM. 2014. Maternal behaviour and lamb survival: from neuroendocrinology to practical application. Animal 8: 102-112.

Foster DL, Hileman SM. Puberty in the Sheep. In: Plant TM, Zeleznik AJ, editors. Knobil and Neill’s Physiology of Reproduction (Fourth Edition) 4. San Diego: Academic Press; 2015. pp. 1441–1485.

Freitas-de-Melo A., Ungerfeld R., Hötzel M.J., Abud M.J., Alvarez-Oxiley A., Orihuela A., Damián J.P., Pérez-Clariget, R., 2015. Mother-young behaviours at lambing in grazing ewes: effects of lamb sex and food restriction in pregnancy. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 168:31-36.

Freitas-de-Melo A, Ungerfeld R, Orihuela A, Hötzel MJ, Pérez-Clariget R. 2018. Restricción alimenticia durante la gestación y vínculo madre-cría en ovinos: una revisión. Veterinaria (Uruugay), aceptado para su publicación.

Illius W, Hayes NB, Lamming GE, 1976. Effects of ewe proximity on peripheral plasma testosterone levels and behavior in the ram in different social environment. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 48: 25-32.

Katz LS, Price EO, Wallach SJR, Zenchak JJ, 1988. Sexual performance of rams reared with or without females after weaning. Journal of Animal Science 66: 1166-1173.

Kendrick KM, Da Costa AP, Broad KD, Ohkura S, Guevara R, Lévy F, Keverne EB, 1997. Neural control of maternal behaviour and olfactory recognition of offspring. Brain Research Bulletin 44: 383-395.

Kendrick KM, Hinton MR, Atkins K, 1998. Mothers determine sexual preferences. Nature 395: 229-230.

Lacuesta L, Giriboni, J, Orihuela A, Ungerfeld R, 2018a. Bucks reared in close contact with adult does prefer to interact with females than with males. Small Ruminant Research 162: 22-24.

Lacuesta L, Giriboni J, Orihuela A, Ungerfeld R, 2018b. Rearing bucks isolated from females affects negatively their sexual behavior when adults. Animal Reproduction 15: 114-117.

Lincoln GA, 1971. The seasonal reproductive changes in the red deer stag (Cervus elaphus). Journal of Zoology (London) 163: 105-123.

Lincoln GA, Short RV, 1980. Seasonal breeding: Nature’s contraceptive. Recent Progress in Hormone Research 36: 1−52.

Nowak R, Keller M, Lévy F, 2011. Mother–young relationships in sheep: a model for a multidisciplinary approach of the study of attachment in mammals, Journal of Neuroendocrinology 23: 1042-1053.

Nowak R, Porter RH, Lévy F, Orgeur P, Schaal B. 2000. Role of mother-young interactions in the survival of offspring in domestic mammals. Reviews of Reproduction 5: 153-163.

Poindron P, LeNeindre P, 1980. Endocrine and sensory regulation of maternal behavior in the ewe. Advances in the Study of Behavior 11: 75-119

Price EO, Borgwardt R, Blackshaw JK, Blackshaw A, Dally MR, Erhard H, 1994. Effect of early experience on the sexual performance of yearling rams. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 42: 41-48.

Price OE, Borgwardt R, Dally MR, 1996. Heterosexual experience differentially affects the expression of sexual behavior in 6- and 8-month-old ram lambs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 46: 193-199.

Price OE, Estep DQ, Wallach SJR, Dally MR, 1991. Sexual performance of rams as determined by maturation and sexual experience. Journal of Animal Science 69: 1047-1052.

Sánchez-Dávila F, Bernal Barragán H, del Bosque-González AS, Ungerfeld R, 2018a. Social dominance and reproductive development in yearling bucks. Theriogenology 110: 168-174.

Sánchez-Dávila F, Ungerfeld R, del Bosque-González AS, Bernal-Barragán H, 2018b. Seasonality in Saint Croix male lamb reproductive development in northern Mexico. Submitted.

Stellflug JN, Lewis GS, 2007. Effect of early and late exposure to estrual ewes on ram sexual performance classifications. Animal Reproduction Science 97, 295-302.

Ungerfeld R, Lacuesta L, Damián JP, Giriboni J, 2013. Does heterosexual experience matters for bucks’ homosexual mating behavior? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 6: 471–474.

Ungerfeld R. 2012. Seasonal reproductive patterns and effectiveness as teasers (ram effect) of Corriedale and Milchschaf rams. Animal Production Science 52: 1036−1041.

Ungerfeld R, González-Pensado SP, 2008. Social dominance and courtship and mating behavior in rams in non-competitive and competitive pen tests. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 44: 44-47.

Ungerfeld R, Lacuesta L, 2010. Social rank during pre-pubertal development and reproductive performance of adult rams. Animal Reproduction Science 121: 101-105.

Zenchak JJ, Anderson GC, 1980. Sexual performance levels of rams (Ovis aries) as affected by social experiences during rearing. Journal of Animal Science 50: 167-174.

Zenchak JJ, Anderson GC, Schein MW, 1981. Sexual partner preference of adult rams (Ovis aries) as affected by social experiences during rearing. Applied Animal Ethology 7: 157-167.

How to Cite
Ungerfeld, Rodolfo. 2018. “Environmental Factors and Sexual Development of Rams and Goats”. Latin American Archives of Animal Production 26 (1-2). https://ojs.alpa.uy/index.php/ojs_files/article/view/2631.
Invited papers