How To Raise Sheeps On A Small Farm

 Raising sheep can be fun and rewarding if you live on a small farm or even a rural home with some pasture space available. They are docile and gentle animals for hobby farms, and they serve many purposes, such as providing meat, wool, and even milk. For many rural families, sheep are virtual pets.

If you plan to keep sheep on your small farm or farm, here are some basic things to consider before you start assembling your flock.

How to raise sheeps

Sheep - perfect for small farms and rural farms

People have kept sheep for milk, meat, and wool for thousands of years, and for good reason. Sheep have distinct advantages over other types of livestock:

Sheep are relatively small and easy to handle, compared to cows, horses, and pigs .

Sheep don't need perfect pastures; they happily eat brush, grasses and weeds that grow in poor soil.

Sheep manure will fertilize the soil. Sheep pastures can be rotated with planting crops. A former sheep pasture is a wonderfully fertile place for cultivation.

Sheep are gentle and docile (although rams can be aggressive at times), and they can be trained. Sheep can be taught to come when called, to follow you, and to stand up when commanded).

Sheep don't need a lot of space. Even an acre can support a small flock of three or four ewes and their lambs.

Choose a breed

When selecting the right breed of sheep, the first thing to consider is the purpose of the sheep. Do you raise them for meat or wool, or just as pet lawn mowers? Or do you take the less common route and breed them for milk? Although sheep don't produce as much milk as cows or goats, some people enjoy the taste of sheep's milk, and it can be used to make delicious cheeses and yogurts.You will also need to consider your local climate, so ask locally what breeds are bred by other farmers in the area.There are hundreds of breeds of sheep, but the list of those most often bred is quite small.Dual purpose sheep (meat and wool):

Corriedale (large species, with abundant meat and lustrous wool)

Dorset (medium size, with dense white wool)

Polypay (lambs are produced frequently and grow rapidly)

Tunis (medium size with creamy wool)

Columbia (large breed with off-white dense wool)

Romney (has a long lustrous fleece)

Meat sheep only:

Hampshire (one of the largest breeds)

Katahdin (very low maintenance)

Suffolk (the most popular breed in the United States)

Dairy sheep:

East Frisia (good milk producer, but a bit difficult to raise)

Lacaune (excellent breed for cheese)

Awassi (gentle breed with shaggy wool)

Buy sheep

After choosing a breed, careful selection of individual animals is essential. Make sure you buy sheep directly from the person who raised them. Look at the flock where the sheep came from, chat with the farmer about the history of the animal and its parents.Check the physical condition of the sheep, especially the following details:

The eyes should be clear and bright.

Teeth should not be worn or missing. The lower jaw should not be under or exceeded.

Check the head and neck for bumps or swelling, which could mean an untreated worm infestation or an abscess.

Sheep hooves should be trimmed correctly and the sheep should not be lame (make sure other sheep in the flock are not lame either, as this can mean they have foot rot, which can infect your sheep) .

The sheep should have a broad back and a deep body and not be too lean or too fat. Bellies can indicate a worm infestation.

If you are buying an adult ewe, make sure the udder is healthy and not lumpy - this can indicate mastitis and damage her milk supply for future lambs.

Having the sheep you want to buy inspected by a veterinarian can help you choose the best sheep.

Sheep care and feeding

Sheep are ruminants, which means that they mainly eat plants such as fresh grass and hay. They can thrive quite well if fed only good pasture grasses, salt, a vitamin and mineral supplement, and fresh water. Sheep pastures can include a mixture of grasses, brush and trees. In general, an acre of good quality pasture can accommodate four sheep.

While the pasture grass is growing, the sheep can feed without supplement, but in winter or during drought, you will need to supplement their feed with hay and/or grain. Be sure to use an elevated feeder rather than putting the hay on the ground, where it will get wet and dirty. Ewes that are about to lamb or sheep that you are raising for market will benefit from grain supplements.

Sheep can be taught to come when called

Sheep can be taught to come when called, to follow you, and to stand up when commanded).

A good supplemental grain mix recommended by the University of Minnesota is 50 lbs. of shelled corn, 20 lbs. of oats, 20 lbs. of wheat bran, and 10 lbs. flax flour. Sheep need more protein than other grazing animals, and where pasture grasses are poor or not plentiful enough to provide this, grain supplements provide the necessary nutrients.

Vitamins and mineral supplements should be formulated specifically for sheep. Mineral mixes for other animals may contain high levels of copper, which can be toxic to sheep.Like other ruminants, sheep need salt to prevent bloating. Salt can be offered in granulated or bulk form. Never use a salt block.

Fence and shelter for sheep

The best type of fence for sheep is an electric or non-electric smooth wire fence. You use electric net fencing for temporary paddocks. Rotating the sheep in different paddocks keeps them in fresh pasture.

In hot climates and during the hot summer months, sheep need some shade, either from trees or an open roof structure. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, cool water (preferably no more than 50 degrees F.) during these times.

Sheep don't need a lot of protection; they prefer to have a simple south-facing three-sided shed to protect them from the worst of rain, cold, snow and wind. Using a lightweight, portable shed allows you to move it to its current enclosure. The size of the shed should allow 15-20 m 2 per adult sheep.

An exception is if your sheep give birth to lambs during the winter. If so, a small barn or sturdy enclosed shed is needed to protect young animals.Even with small flocks, individual sheep will sometimes need attention, so some sort of handling facility is needed to confine individual animals to shearing or medical treatment. This can be a fairly simple forced chute or pen. It will be much safer than trying to hunt and catch animals to handle them.

Sheep handling

Sheep are pretty easy to handle if you understand a few basics of how they move and behave instinctively:

Sheep always tend to move towards other sheep and follow others in the herd.

Sheep prefer to move uphill and to open areas away from enclosures and buildings.

Sheep may be best kept in turns or gentle curves where they cannot see what is ahead.

Sheep always shy away from things that scare them.

As with most animals, offering food is the best way to train sheep. Sheep like grains, peanuts and apples. Lure them in with their favorite treats and entice them to follow you, but be careful not to trick them into thinking you're chasing them. Sheep have only one defense against predators or danger: to group together and run to escape.You must learn to bring the sheep of their own accord because if you try to lead them into a barn or other enclosure they will feel trapped and refuse to enter. Sheep naturally want to flock, which means that once one sheep comes to you, the others will likely follow.

Guard against problems

Sheep can be susceptible to parasites, especially when too many sheep are confined too close together. You can avoid this by rotating the pasture every two to three weeks. If your sheep are infected, pest control may require deworming treatments.Across the country, hundreds of thousands of sheep are lost each year to coyotes and wolves. Although you may not have these predators in your area, be aware that dogs are also one of the main predators of sheep. Foxes and even eagles and other birds of prey can also harm your sheep.Here are some ways to fight predators:

Keep guardian animals, such as trained dogs, donkeys, or llamas in your pasture.

Light corrals and pens at night and use tall, narrow fences.

Keep sheep in an open field within your line of sight so you can react if predators appear.

Use "live traps" or cages to trap marauding dogs, rather than traps. With live traps harmless animals can be set free.

Also put bells on your sheep.

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