When we got into raising hair sheep we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. Beef cattle are relatively hands off, especially when they are mostly pasture raised, and so we didn’t realize how much up close and personal time we would be getting with the sheep so I thought I would highlight some of the really important things we have learned about sheep in our couple of years of raising them.
Hooves have to be trimmed regularly
Coming from Cows to sheep we didn’t really realize at first the importance of trimming their hooves. Sheep hooves are made of the same thing our fingernails are made out of so like our fingernails they have to be trimmed. They need regular trimming every 6-8 weeks to make sure they are able to walk properly. If their hooves get too bad overgrown they can get foot rot, and other legs and foot problems that can eventually lead to serious problems. We have spent countless hours trimming hooves since we got our sheep to make sure we got them back to tip top shape.
Sheep Regularly Have Multiples
Sheep very commonly have twins. Some even have triplets and I’ve heard rumors of sheep that can have more than that but we have never had that experience. We have had multiple sets of twins here on the farm and although they are a bit smaller than their single birth friends they are just as healthy 9 times out of 10.
Be Ready to Bottle Feed
Our Mamas are great but often when they have multiples one ends up missing out. We will then pull them to be bottle fed because we would rather do that than find them starved one afternoon when we check them. We have had quite a few bottle babies recently and from our experience they end up being just as strong and healthy as the others.
Grain and sheep are a touchy subject. They do need a little supplemental grain but it has to be managed carefully. Too much grain can cause overgrowth in the hooves and can cause them to be overweight which can cause problems with pregnancy/lambing. Mineral is also an important supplement to give them. Just like a salt block for a cow this provides them with supplemental vitamins and minerals to help them be their healthiest.
Sheep can be a lot of work but they also add such a joy to the farm. We have had such an exciting spring with all the new babies and the work isn’t hard. The main thing with sheep is just staying on top of things whether that be parasite control, nutrition or hoof management.