Scoring Your Ram’s Horns

Many breeders use the Records of Exotics Scoring System developed by Thompson Temple in 1976 for use on “trophies”  to keep track and judge how their live ram’s horns are growing.  While one inch per month is average growth through the first two years of life, sometimes weather or the seasons and nutrition can factor into the growth rates.  Bloodlines will also play a part in how fast the rams’ horns grow.

The Records of Exotics Scoring System can be divided into two parts, one for two-horned sheep and one for multihorned (polycerate) sheep.

Measuring Two-Horned Sheep

  • Secure your ram: When measuring a live ram the first thing you need to do is find a way to secure your ram so you can get an accurate measurement. Either place him in some type of head gate or have some handlers help you hold him still. If a ram moves around a lot it is hard to get an accurate and true measurement.
  • Measuring Horn Base Circumference (Basal
    Circumference):
    This Circumference measurement is taken on the horn at the horn base at the hairline and is the measurement of the base of the horn. Be sure to push hair back and don’t include hair when taking this measurement.
  • Measuring length: You will need to measure the length of a horn from the horn base at the skull to the end tip of the horn. Be sure the measuring tape is held on the center (ridge) of the horn during the measurement. Make sure you have no slack at all in your measuring tape at any time. In rams with large curled horns, it may be easier to take some type of cable that will not stretch at all to get the measurement, mark the endpoints then measure the item you used to get that measurement. Or a sticky tape also can provide accurate measurement and you can stick it on the horn exactly where it needs to be all the way down, then mark each end of the tape, remove it, and get measurements that way. Do not use any type of tape that will stretch such as electrical tape, use a ridge type of tape with no give to it so you can have accurate measurements. Once you have a measurement of the horn length make a note of this and then measure the other horn length and note that. Record measurements in 1/8 inch increments. 
  • Measuring Middle Circumference: Now you need to refer back to your notes. To get this measurement you need to work on the horn that is the longest if they did not measure in length to be exactly the same length. Very few rams will have exact length measurements of each horn. Take the length measurement of the longest horn and divide that number in half. For example, if your ram had a measurement of 28 2/8 inches in length of the longest horn 1/2 of that measurement will be 14 1/4 inches. You will use this 1/2 way measurement to get the Midway Circumference. Measure from the base of the horn to your midway circumference figure and mark the area on each horn. Then take your measuring tape and measure the circumference around each horn at this point. Again take care that no slack is in tape. Tape can not be moved one way or another and must be measured exactly at this point. Make notes of measurements of each horn’s midway circumference.
  • Add all of your measurements up:  You will have 6 measurements for Two Horned Rams. Class Scoring and Names of each Class are listed below. Accurate measurements are essential, take your time when measuring to get correct measurements. 

Check your total measurements to the graph below! What did your ram score?

Measuring Multi-Horned Sheep

Measurements are taken as above on all horns.  The only difference is the mid circumference is taken at the actual mid point of each horn, not based on the mid point of the longest horn.

Measure Base of Left Primary Horn: Do not include any hair/wool.  Primary horns are the horns on top of the head and are usually the longest.


Measure Length of Left Primary Horn:
 Start in the middle of the horn as pictured and follow the horn as it curves or curls.

Measure Left Primary Middle Circumference: Determine the midway (halfway) point of the horn by dividing the length by 2 and measure the middle circumference of the Left Primary Horn at the midway/halfway point

Measure Base of Left Secondary Horn:  Do not include any hair/wool. Secondary horns are the horns located on the side of the head and are generally smaller than the primary horns.

Measure Length of Left Secondary Horn: Start in the middle of the horn as pictured and follow the horn as it curves or curls.

Measure Left Secondary Middle Circumference: Determine the midway (halfway) point of the horn, by dividing the length by 2 and measure the Middle Circumference of the Left Secondary Horn at the Midway/Halfway point

Repeat above steps for the two Right Side Horns

Add all of the above measurements together and that is your ram’s score using the Records of Exotics Scoring System!  For a four-horned ram, you will have a total of 12 measurements to add together. Compare to the graph below. Is your ram’s horns GOLD CLASS?

Measuring Sheep with Horn Bases Which are Fused

If the bases of any of the horns are fused together, measure as best as you can as if each horn were separate as per the Records of Exotics.

Both the Multi-horned rams and the Two Horned rams can display fused horns. This is especially seen in aged Two Horned Rams

Now that you have seen the outside of your ram’s horns up close, check out what the inside of the horn looks like! CLICK HERE