Are you interested in starting a farm or homestead? If you’re interested in keeping livestock, you may want to consider getting sheep. They’re a popular livestock animal for beginners, and with good reason. A Derby veterinarian offers sheep care advice in this article.
Benefits Of Sheep
Sheep are small, gentle, and easy to handle. They can easily be trained to stand still, come when called, or follow you. They also don’t need much room, though the more land you have, the better. They’re also really cute!
According to the American Sheep Industry, there are 47 different breeds of sheep here in the States. They’re divided into six groups: wool, long wool, hair, meat, dual purpose, and minor breeds. Do some research, and figure out what kind is best for you. Be sure to go through a reputable breeder!
Sheep need about 8 hours of daily grazing time. If you have good pasturage, this will provide your fluffy friends with the nutrition they need. You may need to offer grain to lambs, lactating ewes, and sheep with dental issues. If your grass is poor, you’ll need to provide grass hay. We recommend having your soil tested. This will also allow you to tailor your sheep care regime. For instance, if you have lots of clover, you’ll want to keep your sheep indoors on rainy days, as eating wet clover can cause bloat. Block minerals are also recommended. Fresh water, of course, is also a must. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Your wooly pals will need shelter from wind and rain. A three-sided shelter will work, though a barn is ideal. Proper ventilation is crucial: if you don’t have good airflow, moisture will accumulate and cause mold. For bedding, we recommend straw, as sawdust often gets stuck in those wool coats. Be sure to remove waste daily.
Sheep are pretty hardy, but they do need some care. In addition to getting their recommended vaccinations and deworming, they’ll need regular hoof trims. You’ll also need to shear your sheep annually. Keep a close eye out for signs of illness. These include withdrawal, lack of appetite, unusual vocalizations, sneezing, coughing, strange postures or positions, dry or tight skin, and/or bloody feces. Call your vet immediately if you notice anything amiss.
Do you have questions about sheep care? Contact us, your Derby animal clinic, today!