304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
How To Tend Sheep?
Is it easy to keep sheep? It is an easy beginners’ mistake to decide how many sheep you want first, but 20 sheep are not twice as difficult to keep than 10. Don’t forget to allow for lambs, who may only be around for six months, but will graze from a very young age.
How do you take care of a flock of sheep? Allow at least 25 square feet per sheep and be sure the shelter has good ventilation and no direct drafts. Always provide your sheep with plenty of clean, dry straw for bedding. Remove damp and soiled straw daily, replacing it with fresh straw. Hydrated lime will help absorb moisture and prevent spread of bacteria.
Can sheep live on grass alone? Sheep are perfectly”designed” to not only live on grass alone, but thrive on it! They can carry multiple lambs, make milk to nurse their young and really put on their weight with access to high quality forage.
Sheep farmers derive their income from the sales of lambs and wool and related products. Though it varies by state and farm, most income comes from the sale of lambs. Dairy sheep farmers have three sources of income: lambs, wool, and milk (or dairy products).
Lambs are gentle animals that are easy to handle and respond well to humans. They can be playful and comical animals that form close bonds with their people. Raising one by bottle-feeding forms an even stronger bond since the lamb will think you are their mother. Most lambs get along great with children and other pets.
When they experience stress or isolation, they show signs of depression similar to those that humans show by hanging their heads and avoiding positive actions. Like us, sheep experience fear when they’re separated from their social groups or approached by strangers.
A general rule of thumb is that 1 acre of land can support two sheep, but this varies greatly based on rainfall and your soil quality. If rain is plentiful and your soil rich, your land may support more than two sheep per acre, while an acre in drought-ridden area may not support even one.
How many sheep should I purchase? Sheep are a flock animal. This means that they need to live with other sheep. I recommend a flock no smaller than five sheep, but have seen flocks of 4 do well.
Sheep that are accustomed to people enjoy being petted by their humans. However, sheep that are unaccustomed to people do not like to be petted and their fight or flight response is activated. Sheep approached by strangers may react favorably or not, depending on their level of socialization to multiple people.
The truth is all animals can bite (even you); however, for goats or sheep it is really hard to bite someone. This is true because they have a flat palate on their upper jaw in the front of their mouth. They use this flat palate to help them strip the leaves off of branches or to pull in the hay that they eat.
For the small farmer or homesteader, Merino sheep would be a good choice for home meat production because they are easy keepers. Although the lambs won’t reach standard market rate as quickly as those of other breeds, small-scale operations can certainly afford to forgive this tidbit.
Hay and Stored Feed
When fresh pasture isn’t available, the next best thing is stored feed. Sheep can eat hay, silage, green chop, balayage or crop by-products. Hay is the most common choice. However, silage or haylage can also be fed to sheep, but you need to be careful about feeding it.
Healthy sheep are eager to eat. They are almost always hungry. Sheep bleat in anticipation of being fed and will rapidly approach the feeding area.
Small-acreage farms can provide suitable space for profitably raising sheep. Profitability can be challenging, but with productive sheep and close control of expenses, a profit is possible. Sheep produce income from the sale of meat, wool and milk. Most sheep are sheared once per year to produce wool.
Beef cattle are generally the most profitable and easiest livestock to raise for profit. Beef cattle simply require good pasture, supplemental hay during the winter, fresh water, vaccinations and plenty of room to roam. You can buy calves from dairy farms inexpensively to start raising beef cattle.
According to Paul Rodgers, director of producer services for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), the conventional approach of adding 20 to 100 ewes to a farm operation can be profitable. Other approaches require careful marketing and would be more difficult and risky.
Sheep do not hate petting. They are more like a cat than a dog, in that at times they will put up with it and at other times they are reluctant to be touched.
The average lifespan of a sheep is 10-12 years, although the age at which they cease to be ‘commercially productive’ is around 5 years earlier, hence most domestic sheep are killed at around half of their potential lifespan.
Sheep are happy because they can sleep all night in the meadow, until the sun is hot enough to make them sweat..
A 2009 report published in Animal Welfare found that sheep are capable of experiencing a whole range of feelings, from fear to anger, despair, boredom and happiness. The animals have been referred to by different cultures, religious texts and even astrology for thousands of years.
Onions can be fed safely to sheep and provide as much weight gain as high-quality whole sorghum, says ARS animal scientist Rick Estell. There had been concern that naturally occurring sulfides in onions would cause anemia—and possibly death.
They aren’t dogs, giving you undying love and devotion, but pet sheep can be affectionate in their own way.
You can reasonably expect to keep six to ten sheep on an acre of grass and as much as 100 sheep on 30 acres of pasture. If you want to keep more than an acre can sustain, you’ll have to look into purchasing additional land as you’ll likely need to rotate your flock to keep them fed.
Raising fiber animals is popular among homesteaders, especially those who knit. You will need to figure on one acre of pasture land for each three adult sheep you plan on raising and your shelter should allow for 15 square feet for each ewe and her lambs.