Sheep prefer less dominant males when they mate

Study development

In this new research, the scientists realized that when dominant males they ran out of sperm, females tended to seek the less dominant males. For this reason, they wondered if the same would happen if females could choose their own mating partner.

To find out, they tied a dominant sheep at one end of a meadow and a more submissive male at the other end. Then they let in seven sheep that were in heat and they let them choose which of the males they preferred as a mating partner. They repeated the test several times with different groups of sheep to be sure.

In this way, the researchers concluded that most females preferred submissive males. Furthermore, in the cases of the females who chose the dominant males, fewer mounts were produced during intercourse. The scientists also found that sheep apparently enjoy the company of less dominant males more. In fact, they spent triple the time together and about twice the time mating.

Thus, scientists consider that evolution has probably caused sheep to choose less dominant males to avoid inbreeding. However, it could also simply be that prefer to be treated with a little delicacy.

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