How to Raise Sheep?
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Sheep and Goat farming are part of earning bread for a farmer’s family. Before thinking about keeping a sheep you need to know and understand why do you want to raise sheep?
For centuries humans took the help of animals in different kinds of works. Sheep is one of those animals. Traditionally being raised on farms and ranches, sheep have always been a source of generating income for the farm and the family.
Important Reasons for Sheep and Goat Farming?
Sheep and goat farming is promoted for various reasons. These reasons are significant as they have a crucial impact on the breeds, the manner in which they are fed, marketed, and managed.
- Economic – Keeping sheep and raising them to provide a source of income for the farmer and family.
- Environmental – Since they are fond of many weeds and wild plants, they help in controlling vegetation in the landscapes of the farmers.
- Quality of Life – Sheep is ideal for any small ranch or enterprise. So many families who prefer the rural life and want to expose their children to plant cultivation, animal husbandry, etc., prefer them.
What to do Before Getting the Sheep?
Take the Decision
There are different reasons why sheep are raised by farmers. It is the source of earnings you can sell its meat, milk, hides, and wool. on the other hand, it is kept as a part of hobby farming for having organic meat and other products; to be a pet; or for vegetation control.
Before you decide to keep the sheep, you need to understand it takes a lot of time and money in sheep and goat farming. You will be needing money for fencing, the cost of sheep, stockpile food, shelter for lambing, vaccinations, transportation costs, and vet checks, etc.
Choose the Breeds
- Meat breeds-Dorset, Southdown, North County Cheviot, Suffolk, etc.
- Triple purpose breeds (milk, meat, and wool)- mainly in Europe.
- Wool breeds- Rambouillet, Merino, etc.
- Dual-purpose breeds-Corriedale, Polypay, Targhee, Columbia, etc.
A rough estimate that goes around is 5 ewes per acre. So, find out how much land you can provide for your sheep.
Get your sheep from a recognized breeder so that you can have pure breed because small-scale breeders sometimes give the crossbreeds under false pretense.
How to Care for Sheep?
Before you purchase, check the different breeds of sheep because in sheep and goat farming you need to check the living conditions and geography suitable to your sheep. You need to check which breed of sheep will thrive in your living conditions. Following are the things you need to keep in mind while keeping sheep:
Provide year-round shelter
Once your sheep is home, arrange a shelter that will protect it from all the elements including wind, sun, and rain. It’s not compulsory to have a barn, a three-sided structure will work just as well both have their own specialties.
The special thing with barn is that if the time demands you can separate pregnant or sick sheep from others while with a three-sided structure sheep can stay in a shelter or in the open however they like.
Depending on the time sheep spend in the shelter, the bedding should be decided. It is good to provide them with good, thick bedding of hay if you live in a colder climate. PDZ should be sprinkled in the stalls once a month to neutralize the urine.
Strenth of Pasture Support
As the estimate goes 10 sheep per acre, you need to make sure your pasture can support the number of sheep you are bringing. An average sheep spends 7 hours a day grazing, so the condition of pasture matters. for example, the rocky and dry conditions will need more pastureland to provide more grass.
Set up fencing
Fencing will provide protection to the sheep from predators and will also keep the sheep in the pasture. For extra measure, you can electrify the fence as it will deter predators when they touch the fence.
Feeding your Sheep
Hay or Pasture
Naturally, sheep prefer the pasture plants such as clover or grass. If the pasture stays in bloom throughout the year and is large enough you won’t be needing supplemental food for sheep.
Hay needs depend on the use of pasture, quality of hay, amount of grain being feed, and condition of sheep. Clover and alfalfa are preferred by most animals as it is more nutritious.
Store the hay in case you face harsh weather conditions. You should always be ready. Prevent the hay from getting wet as it could get molded. Store the hay absolutely dry and off the ground. If it gets wet, can be dried again and used as bedding.
Sheep need minerals which the hay cannot provide, so make sure they have access to the salt. As sheep and goat farming are almost similar, sheep need the same minerals as the goat need.
Although salt blocks are good they don’t last long and the sheep don’t get enough minerals just by licking them. Use loose mineral salt as it is less expensive than blocks and you can keep the salt in a feeder in the shelter.
Sheep consumes several gallons of water per day, so you need to keep the supply running especially if the weather is hot. Clean it once a week.
The sheep stand on their hooves which is why their hooves need to get trimmed. Make sure sheep should walk on the dry surface as it prevents foot rot. Trim the hooves every six weeks and more in wet conditions.
Shear your sheep at least once a year and twice if it is with long fleece. Make sure to shear before starting warm weather. If you do not shear the sheep regularly there is the chance your sheep might get lice.
Keep an eye on the general health of your sheep. Make sure it gets all the vaccinations and should be consistently checked by your local vet. Also, make sure to de-worm your sheep as it helps you in having a happy healthy sheep.
Sheep and goat farming has been practiced by farmers for centuries. They have been a way of earning and also been a companion. They are calm animals and require less attention, unlike goats.
All they need is shelter and food. If you take care of sheep you can easily get a good price in the market for their meat, milk, or fleece. We shared all the basic knowledge you will need if you are planning to raise sheep.