Sheep are relatively “undemanding” and easy to care for animals. It is important that you plan to keep them in a herd and acquire a flock of at least four to five animals. Individual keeping is not suitable for herd animals like the sheep and contradicts any species-appropriate orientation. The perfect barn is also important, as it is considered by the animals as a place of retreat and safe shelter. But should the sheep pen be open or closed, light or dark, on pasture or littered? Here you will find the answers!
Open or closed? Which barn would the sheep prefer?
An enclosed sheep pen is not only poorly ventilated, but unnecessary due to sheep’s cold tolerance. You can easily opt for an open barn and offer your sheep a minimum area of 2 square meters per animal. An open sheep pen provides optimal ventilation and therefore only needs to be mucked out two to three times per year. In closed sheds, the bedding must be changed correspondingly more often. Damp and dark stalls promote the formation of germs and bacteria. To keep the stable floor dry, you should regularly add new straw, ensuring a layer of at least 10 centimeters. The deep litter underneath will ferment, producing ammonia and heat. Not only your sheep, but also your nose prefer an open barn with optimal ventilation without drafts. A weatherproof roof with overhangs to protect from rain has proven effective in open sheep barns. If you keep a mixed-sex flock, plan a partition for pregnant animals and dams with lambs.
What goes into a perfect sheep barn?
The nuts and bolts of keeping sheep are clean water and feed. Sheep live in groups, which makes it a good idea to subdivide the barn if you have a larger flock. As in the pasture, you can work with sheep herds and swinging or sliding gates in the barn. There must be a dry and draft-free place for each sheep to lie down. Adjust feed troughs and hayracks to the size of your flock and make sure each animal can easily reach the trough. An area of 50 to 60 centimeters at the feed trough should be planned per animal. The water supply must be guaranteed around the clock. Long troughs and buckets or swimming troughs are suitable so that the drinking water does not become contaminated. Depending on your needs and space, you can also use round and big bale troughs and calculate the amount based on your herd size. Despite the greatest care, an animal can get sick. Therefore, keep in mind that there is a small separated quarantine station in the sheep pen. This should be separated from the rest of the barn by a corridor at least 50 centimeters wide and should exclude contact of the diseased animal with the flock. If breeding is planned or not ruled out, a mechanical sheep scale may be beneficial. An extension kit for an adoption box can also be practical, if a ewe rejects her young and acclimation must be slow.
Clean feed makes for healthy sheep
The main focus in terms of animal health is on cleanliness in the feed and water bowls, as well as clean top litter. For roughage, troughs are ideal, but if you’re feeding concentrates, opt for an easy-to-clean feed trough. Be sure to place feed and water stations so that cleaning and feeding do not present you with complex workflows. The best feeders are those that you can reach through the center aisle of the sheepfold, so you can fill and clean them without any problems. Cleanliness in the sheep pen lays the foundation for a healthy life of the animals and prevents infections that spread throughout the flock in no time. Feeding tables should be placed at a height of 45 centimeters. This way, the animals can eat without any problems and contamination by feces or urine can be excluded due to the mounting height.
Conclusion: species-appropriate and clean – your sheep will like that.
Good planning and calculation of the barn area prevents later problems in animal husbandry. Pay attention to cleanliness in the barn and keep in mind that bedding is done several times a year, depending on the air exchange. Feed chutes should be cleaned every two to four days and then treated with an ecological disinfectant. We tend to an open barn and point out that sheep are not sensitive to cold.
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