If you own a sheep, you’ve probably noticed how they remain unbothered during rains when other animals scamper for shelter. But if you study closely, you’ll see sheep only remain still in light to moderate rainfalls. So, why do sheep stand still in the rain?
Sheep stand still in the rain because of the robust wool that keeps them warm and dry even in a wet climate. However, sheep will seek shelter in extreme rainy and windy conditions that tend to threaten their lives.
This article dives deep into why sheep stand still in the rain and how to help them if they don’t move in an extreme downpour. Read on to find out more.
Why Do Sheep Like Standing Still in the Rain?
Sheep standing still in the rain is common, but it’s not always the case. Their thick wool keeps them warm and cozy on a light or moderate rainy day.
As a result, you’ll either notice them continue grazing unbothered or stand still when it’s raining.
However, their wool may not withstand intense rainfalls on a stormy day. They will ultimately get and risk health conditions when water soaks into their body.
Besides, their eyes and ears are exposed, which means strong winds can blow rain on these body parts, causing discomfort.
Why It’s A Bad Idea For Sheep To Stand Still Outdoors When There’s A Heavy Downpour
The effects of rain on sheep may vary by their breed. For instance, wool sheep that grow thick wool fleece retain body heat better on a rainy day than their hair-coated counterparts.
This means both sheep will ultimately become drenched but at different rates.
Here’s what may happen to your sheep when you leave them outdoors during heavy rainfall for an extended period.
Rain Increases the Risk of Flystrike Attack on sheep
Fly strike is common in rabbits but also affects sheep. This may not occur immediately during the rainy season, but you can expect a fly strike attack and worms on your sheep as the summer sets in.
Since worms find a haven in warm and wooly conditions, highly wrinkled merinos and other long-wool sheep breeds are more susceptible to fly strike attacks than hair sheep breeds.
Consider shearing your long-wool sheep immediately after the winter to protect them from attack by fly strikes and worms.
Rain Causes Skin Conditions in Sheep
Too much rain on your sheep exposes them to a skin condition called Dermatophilosis or rain rot.
This occurs when excessive moisture soaks in the skin, forming bacteria that irritate them and makes the skin scabby.
Dermatophilosis, also known as mud fever or rain scald, is common in cattle, goats, and horses.
If you live in damp climates, perform a routine check on your sheep for signs of Dermatophilosis infection.
Scabs on the skin are the most common signs to look out for. The condition is treatable using apple cider or iodine solution applied to the affected area.
However, to prevent Dermatophilosis, consider erecting an escape shed where sheep can seek refuge during heavy rains.
Sheep May Suffer from Hypothermia
Sheep can only withstand heavy rainfall as much. However, the risks can be fatal if the sheep’s body temperature drops below normal.
Hypothermia in sheep occurs in two ways—too much heat lost or when the body produces little heat to sustain the animal.
And while hypothermia remains most prevalent in newborn lambs with developing immune systems, the condition is also common in hair sheep or wool sheep that have just been shorn.
What To Do If Your Sheep Is In The Rain
Sheep need little help from humans to protect them from rain. The best you can do is construct a run-in shelter near their grazing field and leave the rest to them.
They know when the rain is mild enough or too strong for them to withstand. Construct a robust escape shed where they can get shelter on a stormy day to protect themselves from strong wind and rainfall.
What Are The Best Sheep Breeds For Extremely Cold Climates?
The best sheep breed to keep on your farm may vary on individual goals. However, before you bring sheep into your yard, consider other factors, such as the climate condition and how well the sheep you intend to bring can thrive under those conditions.
And while most sheep are hardy and will withstand extreme conditions, some are more suited for certain climates than others. Some of the recommended sheep breeds for cold climates include:
- Icelandic sheep
- Black Welsh Mountain
- Romney sheep
- Leicester Longwool
People Also Ask Questions
Here are common questions people ask about sheep standing still in the rain.
Do sheep need shelter from the rain?
Sheep will stand still in mild rain and remain in the grazing field without needing shelter. However, on a day with heavy rains, they may seek refuge under big rocks, trees, or a nearby run-in shelter to protect themselves from getting too wet.
Can sheep catch a cold in the rain?
Sheep will catch a cold in the rain, although this is rare, especially for wool sheep. Otherwise, hair sheep soak more quickly and, thus, are more susceptible to cold when their body temperatures drop below -17° Celcius.
Can sheep survive in a snowfall?
Sheep, especially wool sheep, can survive in the most severe climates, including snow and icy conditions. However, their feeding may change drastically in such situations. You may need to feed them more food than usual to keep them warm.
How can I tell if my sheep is too cold?
Sheep will withstand cold weather to a certain degree; otherwise, they can get too cold and develop hypothermia when they stay outdoors during a heavy downpour.
The quick way to tell if your sheep is too cold is a drop in their body temperature. Body temperatures below 100°F (37.8°C) may indicate your sheep is too cold and attention is needed.
Some visible signs to tell if your sheep is too cold include:
- Slow movements.
- Sheep lying down a lot for extended periods.
- An unusual cold feeling to the touch.
Sheep don’t care much about standing still in the rain due to their robust wool cover. Still, it doesn’t mean you should leave your sheep to care for themselves.
Ensure there’s always a run-in shed near their grazing field to offer shelter when rains become too strong for them to withstand.
And while sheep will naturally run to the shelter when rains are too much, some sheep breeds may not realize it until it’s too late.
Monitor your sheep during rains and lead them to a shelter if you feel the showers are too much for them to bear.