You don’t need to be a big shot farmer to have a sheep. In fact, more and more people are opting for sustainability and producing their own produce. Sheep can offer wool, milk, meat, and cheese. They can even be great companions. If you are considering keeping sheep or starting a small farm, there are some questions you need to answer first. Ask yourself these questions:
What breed is best for my purposes?
The purpose of keeping sheep will help you know which breed will be best for you. You have dairy breeds, meat breeds, and wool breeds. Some breeds are good for more than one purpose and some may even be able to offer you all three. You can check online directories for an indication of which sheep is available and best to keep in your area.
Should I keep rams?
Rams can be very difficult to handle for inexperienced farmers. They can get aggressive and cause injury. If your main purpose for raising sheep is not breeding, hold off on the rams. You will eventually have to breed, but there are different options available that you can consider when the time comes.
How many sheep can I keep?
The number of sheep that you will be able to keep on your property will depend on the plants that grow there, the rainfall, and the quality of the soil. Sheep are flock animals and will need at least one other sheep to keep them company. How many sheep your land will hold, will require some research on rainfall, etc.
How do I protect my sheep?
First off, you will need fencing. You will have different camps for rotating. All these camps should be fenced. You also need to have shelter for them against the weather. You can build a barn or other shelter that offers protection.
You should spend time with your sheep to get to know their behaviour. This will help you notice when something is wrong. Your sheep’s health is also important and you will do well with making friends with the local vet.
Sheep are very interesting animals. You wouldn’t say so from the dope looks and herding mentality, but keep reading and find out what you’ve been missing.
They have good memories – Sheep can remember the faces of other sheep and humans for years.
Egyptians liked sheep – The Egyptians mummified sheep and they were buried with them in their tombs.
There are billions on Earth – There are more than a billion sheep in the world and many different breeds. You will find roughly 18% of these billions in China.
They are mentioned a lot in the Bible – Sheep are mentioned in the Bible (King James specifically) 200 times. Lambs are mentioned 191 times, ewes 10 times, and rams 172 times.
They can power lorries – A study in New Zealand has shown that the methane released by a sheep’s flatulence can power a lorry. It would be able to give power for about 25 miles per day.
In some countries they exceed the human population – In New Zealand, Australia, and Magnolia there are more sheep than people. In some places as many as three times more.
They can smell really well – Sheep have a great sense of smell. They have scent glands on their feet as well as in front of their eyes.
Sheep help weed out invasive plants – Sheep are grazing herbivores and tend to have a taste for the invasive species. Therefore, they are used to control the appearance of these plant species to help maintain biodiversity.
They are not that dumb – Studies have shown that, despite the herding mentality, sheep have the same intelligence as other cattle and their IQ is just below that of pigs.
A sheep was the first mammal to be cloned – Dolly was a Finnish Dorset sheep and the first mammal that was successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell. She was born in 1996 and grew to be almost 7 years old before she died of a lung disease.
Sheep are more interesting than most people may think. They were pretty important to the Egyptians and used a lot in the Bible which makes them pretty cool.
Britain has a lot of sheep. We’re a bit sheepish in that way and it seems to suit us. There are several different breeds of sheep across the world, but we have a few breeds that are native to Britain. If you’re not a farmer, you might not appreciate these sheep, but some of them are actually quite beautiful. Let’s meet them.
Hebridean – This breed has black fleece and is horned – they can have either one or two horns. The Hebridean is native to Scotland and they are very maternal. This breed is raised for meat.
Herdwick – The Herdwick breed is mainly raised on the Cumbrian hillsides of Northern England. They are native to the Lake District. They have a greyish coat and white faces. Herdwick provides strongly flavoured lamb and mutton and is also good for wool.
Kerry Hill – One of the breeds that we find beautiful. They are originally from Wales and have been around since the 19th century. The Kerry Hill breed has white fleece and black markings on their eyes, nose, and legs. This makes them a very distinctive breed. They don’t have horns and do well in any weather conditions.
Suffolk – The Suffolk breed is another distinctive breed. They have black faces and legs and white coats. They are mainly raised for meat and was crossbred from Norfolk Horn ewes and Southdown rams. This is one of the bigger sheep breeds that you will find in Britain.
Black Welsh Mountain – An easy breed to raise and they are also easy to lamb. They have black fleece and no wool on their face or legs. The males are horned, but the females are not. They offer very good milk yields.
Rough Fell – These sheep are also from Northern England. They have white coats and black faces with a white patch on the nose. They have spiral horns and are great breeders and are mainly raised for meat.
Some of these sheep breeds offer better coats for wool than others and some make better tasting meat. Farmers have a wide variety of native sheep to breed with and for some, it can be tough to decide which to start with.