Sheep (Ovis Aries) is a four-legged ruminant animal which is one of the oldest domesticated animals known to man. A ruminant animal is one which has a rumen or compartments to hold semi-chewed food and grain for a while to mix with bacteria. This semi-digested cud is then later regurgitated which the animal chews for further digestion process. Cows are another prime example of ruminant animals. Sheep farming or breeding is a vintage profession and maintaining a sheep dairy is very beneficial to men for the numerous benefits. Sheep milk and wool both are widely popular and in-demand and while human beings are dependent on these quadrupeds for their products, the sheep also in-turn becomes dependent on its human owners for the basic necessities and care like any other domestic pets. Thus is you are keeping sheep as pets, or breeding them for farming or dairy, it is of utmost importance that you ensure proper care and tend to its feeding and other needs properly.
The basic requirements
Whether you are breeding sheep or willing to maintain as pets, newborn sheep need extra care and protection to ensure they grow up healthy. Constructing a fenced area helps protect them from predators and some farmers even keep sheepdogs to guard them and to keep them restricted within a region while grazing. Sheep need open space, green grass and extremely favorable climatic conditions to thrive and breed properly and it is crucial to cross-check that you are capable of fending to these needs easily. If you are bringing in a baby sheep, it is advisable to get them vaccinated with booster shots as and when required. Sheep also needs plenty of drinking water and you must also provide sufficient shelter to protect them from the heat, rain or snow.
Food & diet
Sheep enjoy a diet of clover and grass and like occasional grains too. Like most domestic animals, they need ample supply of fresh drinking water and while breeding you should also ensure the availability of free-choice mineral block or salt block which is particularly crafted for sheep and not for other cattle or horses. This is because mineral block or salt block for horses consists of alarmingly high rate of copper which is extremely harmful for sheep and can lead to toxicity. During winters, provision of fresh hay is also beneficial addition to the diet of your sheep flock. Feeding the right thing to your sheep is very necessary and at times over indulgence of grains tends to make the sheep overweight and plump. Grains should be provided only if the sheep is losing weight drastically. Fresh pastures if not readily available can be substituted by fresh hay too.
Care & attention
Sheep are in constant need for attention and special care. Other than the basic needs, they also need ample exercise. Sheep which don’t get enough outdoor exposure tend to gain more fat than meat and is not good for their health too. Occasional worming and proper vaccinations are also utmost important. Fungal infections are quite common in sheep and owners must keep an eye for any health issues that the sheep is facing.
Breeding sheep can be a tedious and daunting job, but it surely is worth the efforts and is a rewarding as well as fun experience. This post proudly sponsored by our friends at Denver Limo & Party Bus, who know that not all sheep farmers are dowdy and boring — we think everyone needs to get off the farm and get a taste of the “good life” once in a while!