8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Sheep

Sheep raising is a lot of work. You have to take care of them, feed them and keep them safe from predators. If you are not careful, some of the more common mistakes you can make to raise sheep can make the task even harder.

In fact, there is a common saying among shepherds that sheep are born “ready to die”. This is because it appears that the sheep may be healthy one minute, then die the next day.

In fact, unexpected losses are usually caused by a shepherd’s inexperience and inattentiveness – there are some common mistakes you can make from raising sheep that are very easy to stop (if only you knew how to prevent them, of course ).

Consider these wrong steps by almost every sheep-farmer who is just getting started – hopefully, you will be able to learn from our mistakes and do the right thing for the first time!

The Most Common Mistakes You Can Make For Sheep

When it comes to raising sheep – or any type of livestock, for that matter – knowledge is power. Here are some of the most common mistakes you can make while raising sheep, as well as suggestions on how to avoid these mistakes.

1. Choose the wrong breed

Very often, people choose the first flock of sheep they find on Craigslist, deciding to bring them home without much consideration as to what (or how) they will be raised for.

This can be very frustrating – meat producers find themselves annoyed by the constant shear required by wool breeds, who want their sheep to leave the lamb in the middle of the lamb just once a year in the spring , Is surprised to see lamb in the middle of summer.

Think carefully about your reasons for raising sheep, as well as the unique characteristics of the breed you ultimately choose.

Some of the best breeds of wool include:

If you are thinking of raising sheep for meat, consider:

Finally, if milk production is on your mind, think about increasing:

  • Lacunae
  • East Frisian
  • Avasis
  • Catnip
  • Asafas
  • Finship

Of course, they are not the only variable to consider. When choosing your sheep breed, pay attention to the management needs of your animals (especially those related to lambs), along with any other characteristics that may be important to you.

2. Reduce how much space is needed

When rearing other types of livestock, you may be able to get close – and push the upper limit of what may be acceptable in terms of stocking density.

I highly discourage it to raise sheep.

Raising sheep nearby not only increases the chances of stress on your sheep, which can lead to potential health problems and loss of life, but you can also dramatically increase your risk of survival.

Sheep are incredibly prone to parasitic problems, perhaps more so than any other species of livestock. So try your best to give your sheep as much space as possible. The original recommendation is 16-square-feet per ewe, with lambing pens approximately 25-square-feet. Rams need at least 30-square feet.

However, they are minimal – I would add a few square feet for insurance.

3. Poor Fencing

Although sheep are not squirrels like goats, when it comes to cracking a perfectly good fence, you should think carefully about putting up your fence before bringing any sheep home.

The sheep are not good at figuring out how to get around the fence, so most of the time, a one-page wire fence should do the trick. However, it should be so long that the sheep cannot jump over it – and it should not even have holes that are large enough that your animals can touch their head.

If you plan for rotational grazing (something that I highly recommend and will address in more detail below), you need to be mindful of how you use electricity. Electric fencing works wonders for most livestock animals, but using it with sheep can be challenging. This is because their thick wool protects them from shock.

This is not to say that you cannot use an electric fence at all. Instead, you have to use a hi-jul charger and make sure that the fence is always “hot”. Trust me when I say – your sheep will know that the fence is cold in a hurry and they will waste no time in running away!

4. “Winging It” at Lambing Time

When it comes to lamb, proper planning and preparation are important.

You can read more about everything we need to consider during lamb in our Lamb Preparation article. Read as much as you can about what needs to be done before and during the lamb season to ensure that you provide everything your animal needs.

For example, many people do not time their lambs well and eventually allow their lambs to lamb on pasture – in the dead of winter. While sheep require only the most basic shelters, the exception to this is during lambs. A wet winter day will kill a newborn lamb in a hurry. Plan your breeding time and mark them on the calendar so that you know when to expect lambs.

5. Do not make any shelter

As I have mentioned before, sheep are very hardy creatures that do not require much in the way of shelter.

However, this does not mean that you should provide zero shelter.

Conversely, you should build some kind of shelter to protect your sheep from the elements. In a warm climate, this can only mean giving your sheep under a duck during heavy rains and for some shade. In cold areas, you have to take into account the snow and freezing temperatures when making your shelter.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Although we keep our sheep in a 30 ‘x 96’ enclosed barn, for others, it may be best to raise the sheep in a three-way hut.

6. Minimizing Care Required

Sheep raising is not for the lazy. These animals require proper amount of maintenance and upkeep.

Shearing will top the list and don’t be fooled when you watch YouTube videos of professional shearers. They make it easy, often shearing the sheep beautifully in just minutes (or less). However, for untrained shepherds, if you have a large herd, cutting hair can take hours or even days – or even weeks.

It’s not just the shears you’ll need to consider (sorry, owner of a hair breed – you’re not off the hook). You will also need to clean the worm, cut hooves, vaccinate … the list goes on and on.

7. Do not take them regularly

I mentioned earlier that one of the biggest problems faced by sheep is the risk of parasitism.

Parasites are common in many livestock animals but sheep are particularly prone. Using a tool such as FAMACHA scoring is a good idea to keep your sheep’s parasite above the load. This will help you get an idea of ​​when your sheep need to be worm-free and can be anemic due to the heavy load of parasites.

However, one of the easiest and most efficient ways to prevent parasites is to move sheep frequently. After dealing with issues like bottle jaws in our farm for several consecutive years, we decided that the healthiest thing for us was to move our sheep to fresh pasture every day.

It takes a little work to move our portable electric fence every night – however, it is worth it that animals do not have to suffer or die from parasitic infections.

You don’t need to be so intense, but in the end, you should never allow your sheep to graze over their manure. Pasture should not be cut from dirt. Make sure that your sheep move regularly and graze alternately. This can not only help prevent parasites but it is the best way to efficiently use a small pasture and keep your grass healthy.

8. Ignoring Mineral Supplement Requirements

Sheep, like all other animals, require some minerals to stay healthy. Some shepherds argue that if you are rearing sheep on pasture, they should be able to raise these minerals through the soil.

While this is somewhat true, this argument ignores the fact that everyone’s soil contains some minerals in excess and is devoid of others. It is difficult to say what minerals your sheep are actually getting.

Providing mineral supplements is not expensive and will ensure that your sheep are getting everything they need. This can help them gain healthy weight and also prevent lamb problems (such as all common white muscle disease).

Do not ignore the many benefits of raising sheep

The biggest mistake you can make when raising sheep?

Deciding that they are not worth the trouble – and choosing not to raise them at all.

Raising sheep can be really challenging and sometimes a bit frustrating. I definitely have my fair share of tear-my-hair moments!

However, I am usually reminded very early on how much I enjoy raising sheep and the stress is long forgotten.

If you are thinking about raising sheep, be it for meat, for milk or for wool, then do not let the mistakes mentioned above go away from you. Trust me, once you have reared the sheep for a few years, you will be able to prevent and resolve these issues before they do not cause even the slightest problem.

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