Rule #1: Eat Food. Alot! ~ Rule#2: Stick With The Flock! ~ Rule#3: Be Aware! ~ Rule#4: Not To Close! ~ Rule #5: Play Games!
At about age 5-6 days to 2 weeks new
lambs suddenly get the memo that they can leave their moms and do something more athletic than reaching for the next meal. They see other lambs just like themselves and they start to play. This is when “gamboling” gets so funny. As though on a pogo stick, they bounce and twirl and hop across the pasture. From here through the next several weeks they spend much of their time in the air.
Once I filmed a lamb spinning in a twirl. He stood in one place, as though not knowing what to do, then leaped straight up, whirled, bounced down and up again, and repeated the move
3 times. Then he took off running, snapping kinetic energy between himself and the next lamb to keep them all bouncing. When they get older the energy passes, but even on a crisp autumn day, usually at sunset after a long day of napping and chewing cud, I’ve seen the whole flock gamboling, skipping, running around the pasture in a game of tag. Even a 150 lb. ram, once relieved of his fleece at shearing time, becomes like a kid again and bounces back and forth across the pasture in a spurt of freedom.
Another game sheep like is King-Of-The-Mountain. Usually mom is the mountain. This could be inspired by a large woodpile, a mound of high ground, or any older sheep who’ll lie still for the game. And this is why commercial growers may use lightweight jackets ( fleece protectors) on their sheep. The lambs don’t care. They bounce up, knock off the current “king”, then are butted in a flying leap from the next lamb. The ewes just chew their cud. It must be very meditative for them.
There was also the time before my flock was established, when my 1st ram lamb created a new game. Having only his ewe cousin to play with, he looked around for anything to break his boredom. He started knocking down trees. Small saplings, but still 8-10 ft.high with thick bases. He’d butt them, bend them by walking over them, and ram them into the ground. They’d snap back and he’d butt them again. And again. I was going to get him a volley ball on a rope, but it never happened.
Most sheep lead simple lives and usually don’t have to worry about their next meal, a strong fence, or what the shepherd’s up to. So they play. Looks like a good idea to me.