Learn everything you need to know about sheep and their husbandry. In addition, you will get useful tips in the rearing of lambs and why mobile catching systems make your work much easier.
General information about sheep
Sheep (lat. ovis aries) have been kept for centuries for wool, meat and milk. But not only as a farm animal but also as a sociable pet, sheep and not least lambs conquer our hearts.
Weight: Male sheep: 46-160kg, female sheep: 45-100kg
Gestation period: 152 days
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Did you know that sheep are very similar to rhesus monkeys and us humans in their complex structures? For example, sheep have the ability to remember the faces of humans and their conspecifics over a long period of 2 years. Furthermore, sheep are able to make conscious decisions.
The different breeds of sheep
Worldwide there are up to 600 different breeds of sheep, but some are so small that they are threatened with extinction. Sheep are classified into three different categories according to their use:
Landscape breeds / Mountain sheep breeds: Best known sheep breeds: Merino Landschaf, Coburger Fuchsschaf, Heidschnucke, Jakobsschaf. These sheep are characterized mainly by their good fertility and high resistance.
Dairy sheep breeds: Best known sheep breeds: Lacune sheep, East Frisian milk sheep. These sheep focus on high milk yield and low muscling.
Meat sheep breeds: Best known sheep breeds: black-headed meat sheep, Suffolk, Texel. A pronounced musculature are typical characteristics of meat sheep breeds.
Proper husbandry of sheep
Sheep are herd animals and should therefore always be kept together. They need a lot of space to live out their natural urge to move. The most suitable is a spacious meadow. Many breeds of sheep are suitable for year-round grazing. However, you should always provide the sheep with a shelter or stable. This should be about 2sqm per animal. If a sheep stands on wet or muddy ground for too long, the well known moldy limp can quickly develop (moldy limp is a common claw disease in sheep). A typical picture in diseased animals is feeding on the knees, with which the sheep relieve the affected feet).
Feeding of sheep
Sheep are quite frugal and, as ruminants, can still make good use of meager feed. However, nutrient requirements must be adequately met with the amount of feed a sheep can consume per day (about ten kilograms of grass) to avoid reduced performance. Depending on the quality of the pasture, seven sheep with their lambs should be provided with about 1 hectare of pasture. In the winter months, sheep enjoy plenty of hay and additional herbs, nettles and lickstones. Adequate drinking water should also be provided: Sheep can consume up to 10l/day. Be sure to provide fresh water, as stale water is often avoided by sheep.
Shearing: Sheep should be sheared twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. If a sheep is not sheared regularly with a quality shearing machine, it will be uncomfortable and may even become ill due to the accumulation of dirt in the wool. To avoid hurting the animal or destroying the wool, shearing should be done by a professional.
Claw Care: The bearing walls of the hooves grow back much faster than they can be naturally abraded on soft ground. Therefore, regular trimming is necessary. Please leave the cutting of the hooves to a professional to avoid injuries. You can find the necessary tools in our store. These include claw shears, claw knives and bag knives.
Mobile trapping systems
Mobile catching and treatment systems are indispensable for the fast and safe catching and treatment of sheep. A variety of work on the animal, which occurs throughout the year, makes a plant indispensable for every sheep farmer: animal identification, parasite treatment, claw care, sorting and all possible control and care measures.
Things to know about breeding lambs
In the first days after birth, the lamb receives the important colostrum. The mother nurses her newborn for about 4 weeks. If the lamb is weaned after that, the babies must have milk several times a day. If the mother’s milk is used for further processing, cow’s milk or special milk powder can be considered here. Care must be taken with this change, as too much milk intake can cause bad diarrhea; too little milk intake will not allow the lamb to develop well.
Soon, solid food will also be on the baby’s menu. Again, this should be started slowly and carefully. You start with hay or silage and can slowly add a small portion of concentrate.
Growing lambs want to move around a lot fairly quickly, so make sure they have plenty of room to play and romp.
At about 3 months of age, the milk supply is finished. The sheep now weighs around 30kg.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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