Sheep owners! I need to pick your brains!
I talked my dad into getting a sheep to keep the weeds and grass down in an area that I'd rather not put the horses. Thing is, we've never had sheep! So I have a huge pile of questions for anyone who cares to answer them!
Right now, the designated 'sheep area' is fenced permanently on three sides with three-wire barbed wire fencing, and the third side would have to be electric, since that area washes out in heavy rain and the snow plow dumps all the snow there in winter. Assuming we make sure there aren't any sheep-sized holes anywhere, would that be suitable to keep a sheep in? It's one or two acres in size.
In winter, and during harvesting season (since there's a corn field behind that pasture and the only access to it is through that area, the guy who owns it always complains about having to open and close two gates.), and I guess if there isn't any food left in that area for the sheep, would it be okay to let it run with the horses? I'm pretty sure they'd leave it alone (they were fine with the calf that we ran with them last year, although Dante was pretty young and thought that since it was his size, that we'd just given him a new playmate.). Otherwise, if they do fight or something, we could set up an electric fence area inside the horse pasture somewhere for it.
Although I probably won't get much of a choice in breed (dad's talking about going to a guy he knows and asking about a lamb, or else just going to an auction), are there any particular breeds that I should try to avoid? Or any that are particularly hardy? I want something hardy, but still pretty friendly. I'm pretty sure I want to get an ewe lamb, and raise it so that it's used to people and whatnot. I think I heard once about a breed that doesn't need to be sheared, but I'm not sure... any clue what breed that might be, if it exists?
And that's all I can think of for now. If anything else seems particularly important for me to know, please say so. :-)
For sheep I prefer fencing that is woven wire, NOT so much because of the sheep escaping (which they will, through the non electric part), but because of the danger of dogs, and possibly other wild predators getting in and killing your livestock. Dogs especially, are smart, they will learn how to crawl right under electric strand, or jump over it, so woven wire is best, as it provides the best 'barrier' that a dog respects. So that is my personal preference as far as fencing. Can electric work? Yes, but it has to be well maintained, and you need atleast 3 strands, 1, 2, and 3 ft off the ground, to keep the sheep from going through it. You need to mark it well, and keep all foliage off of it, otherwise the sheep will learn quickly when it is or isn't working.
Sheep can be kept with horses without problems, as long as the horses don't feel the need to chase them. Most leave them alone. If the horses don't like the sheep in their pasture, it will be best to have atleast 2 sheep so they don't get lonely, as they are herd animals.
There are many hair breeds out there, such as Barbados, Mouflon, and Kahtadon. These are sheep that shed out, so you don't have to shear; you probably would have to search out a breeder though, as you 'may not' find one at an auction. These are all pretty hardy breeds, and when raised from lamb-hood, are quite friendly; I have personal experience with Barbados, and Mouflon.
Regarding auctions, a big thing is to be warey of snotty noses, and diarrhea, because this can spell disaster. I would personally try to find a local breeder, so you ensure a healthy lamb; that way you know he's been vaccinated and wormed prior to you purchasing him. The breeder can also help you learn how to care for him.
I am actually trying to talk my husband into getting a Painted desert sheep. They do not need to be sheared.
hey, that sounds exciting!
getting your own sheep!
i live in Australia on a big sheep property :)
we havnt got any sheep on at the moment, but we usualy have thousands at a time :)
sheep are much happyer in a big mob or in your case a few sheep, if they are alone just like horses, they want to escape heheh
doesnt matter about the fence, but i would stay away from the normal four or five wired straight fence that you usualy see they slip through that pretty easily
cyclone is the best.
we dont have any electric fences on our farm (wich is good for me, not getting shocked all the time) hehehe but its much more work with an electric, if it gets out, and there is other animals that are friends they wont go far.
get a ewe, save you having to castrate the ram
and if you leave it as a ram, it wont be as friendly
sheep are totally fine with horses i guess it just depends on your horse!
my pony is fine, she usualy shares a paddock with a few hundred, she had never cared about them, if the sheep dont like the horses, they will peicefully stay out of their way :) sometimes they play together its funny to watch
my pony's yard usually fills with weeds during summer wich is a big snake hazard were im from, the sheep sertainly do a good job of cleaning it up
just make sure you dont bare it out too much, because the sheep will soon get hungry and escape (and trust me there pretty good at it)
hope you have fun with your new sheep :)
and raise it well because you dont want to keep chasing it around (thats not fun) lol teach it to lead from an early age but luckly one thing, they're soo much easyer to train than a horse! hahah
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