Weird But True

Farmers find bizarre way to stop ‘naughty’ sheep from fighting: ‘It’s like when you see drunk men’

Axe body spray isn’t just reserved for middle school locker rooms anymore.

Sold by Unilever, the body spray — once synonymous with overt machismo thanks to the company’s campaign of provocative adverts — is catering to a new consumer: sheep.

In the rolling green hills of the UK’s farmlands, the spirited rams are spritzed with the pungent perfume to keep them from butting heads — no, really.

About 100 miles northeast of London, retired police officer Sam Bryce mists her feisty 4-year-old rams, Cash and Casper, with the body spray, sold across the pond as Lynx.

“They puff themselves up and square up to each other and make this grunting noise,” Bryce, 55, told the Wall Street Journal of the notoriously rambunctious creatures, who often brawl over a mate or to assert dominance, not unlike males of other species.

“It’s like when you see drunk men put their fists up and say, ‘I’ll fight you.’”

She learned of the little-known trick in a Facebook group for fellow shepherdesses. Emile Holba / The Wall Street Journal

Cash, a Ryeland ram, will occasionally charge or butt against the metal barricade that keeps him from Casper, a Jacob sheep, which Bryce says are “displays of dominance.”

But a misting of Lynx Africa — which apparently veils the hormones that induce said fighting — seems to do the trick.

“There’s no argy-bargy, no rowing,” said Bryce, who learned of the unorthodox effects of Lynx from the Facebook group “Ladies Who Lamb.”

Without it, Bryce says the two rams will “get full of themselves” and “bicker.” Not to mention, the stench-masking spray — a “well-known” trick among shepherdesses, Bryce said — can neutralize Casper and Cash’s odor after mating with ewes.

“When the rams come back from tupping, they stink,” explained Bryce, the proud shepherdess of approximately 30 sheep. “They need a powerful smell.”

With the body spray, there is no “rowing” between the rams, said Bryce. Emile Holba / The Wall Street Journal
Bryce called her sheep the “naughtiest” animals. Emile Holba / The Wall Street Journal

While Axe is not tested on or for animals, the shepherdesses are cautious when spritzing their sheep, avoiding the sensitive area around their eyes, per the Journal.

But fragrance isn’t just for the boys: shepherds are using Lynx to confuse ewes, who use smell to recognize their own offspring, into nurturing orphan lambs.

“I always go for Lynx Africa because it has a very distinctive strong smell,” Suffolk shepherdess Caitlin Jenkins, 31, told the Journal. “The ones that don’t smell as strong have less chance of working.”

But New Zealand beef and sheep farmer Toby Williams is suspicious of the Axe effect. The 43-year-old has used Johnson & Johnson baby powder, Unilever’s Brut and Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice to trick ewes into mothering lambs that are not their own, but has yet to test the body spray theory on his own 60 rams, who are combative by nature.

“Animals can see each other, but smell is what lets them know it’s one of their friends,” he told the Journal. “It’s triggering rams to say, ‘This is my mate. I don’t need to fight him.’”

“I’m not the only nutter, lots of ladies have it in their tool kit,” she said. Emile Holba / The Wall Street Journal

Regardless, shepherdesses are convinced that Lynx is the only product that works to wrangle their misbehaved rams — after all, “you never know what they’re going to get up to,” quipped Bryce.

“I’m not the only nutter, lots of ladies have it in their tool kit,” she said.

“I adore my sheep, but they’re the naughtiest things I’ve ever owned.”