Have crows tongues

Corvids and free-range farm animals

Documented killings
In several cases, killing of lambs could also be directly observed and documented by biologists. However, all of the lambs examined would have died without the help of the common ravens.

The precondition for killing is that the ewe or small lamb remain immobile for a long time. In such cases, however, killing takes a very long time, up to several hours. Common ravens can neither "tear" a lamb or a pregnant ewe in a short time, as is sometimes claimed. Even in newly born lambs that have not been adopted by ewes, observations show that ravens do not "pounce" on the lamb and kill it. They are unable to do this.

A killing can only be done by the sum of numerous beak blows, which, however, do not take place in "stakato rhythm", but with looking around and securing the ravens, jumping back and carefully approaching. Corvids test the animals for their physical condition beforehand.

No quick death
The longer this process lasts, and the less effort the animal concerned makes to free itself from the situation, the more determined the ravens then chop. In an adult sheep, however, this behavior lasts for hours! A lethal injury from one or only a few beak blows could therefore not be detected in any of the cases (over 100 autopsied lambs / sheep). So killings cannot generally be ruled out. Pregnant ewes can also be affected if they lie on their backs for a long time (hours). Under these conditions they can then be pecked by corvids (mostly not fatal).

Immobility makes sheep attractive to corvids
How do animals get into such situations? Unshorn sheep with wet fur and thick, pregnant belly have an itchy back. They roll over and as a result lie stuck on their backs in a small bump in the ground. In this state a kind of "rumen symptom" can occur, since neither the CO2, nor the methane of the rumen can be exhaled through Ruktus. In addition, no foam-preventing saliva is swallowed. The rumen swells increasingly and presses on the diaphragm and respiratory organs. Shortness of breath occurs, panting begins. It can lead to fainting and even death if the shepherd does not free the perfectly healthy sheep from its position. In such cases, common ravens can peck at the defenseless animals. Since ravens are primarily interested in soft tissues, the eyes and often the tongue, which the common ravens would not be able to reach in a non-panting or unconscious sheep, are missing. This looks gruesome and extremely bloody, but does not necessarily result in the death of the sheep.

All other serious forms of ewes getting stuck (mainly caused by coccidiosis) can lead to the same effect. However, the condition remains without exception a long-term inability of the animal to move.