Many things go into raising sheep, from selecting the right breed to providing shelter, proper nutrition, health care, and meeting their grooming needs. Generally, raising sheep can be a gratifying and worthwhile endeavor.
These adorable farm animals are ideal for large, medium, and small farms run for profit, hobby farmers, and even families looking for pets. If you are thinking of raising sheep, find out why you want to do so beforehand, as that will help you adopt the right strategies towards achieving the goal.
This post explores the benefits and reasons for rearing sheep to aid your quest.
REASONS TO RAISE SHEEP
Sheep offer numerous benefits and would be a valuable addition to your farm. Let’s look at the benefits of raising sheep.
1. THE PRECIOUS WOOL
Despite the prevalent use of synthetic fiber today, sheep wool remains valuable. This non-carcinogenic, flame-resistant, recyclable substance with superior insulation has numerous uses, such as house insulation, clothing, furniture, and bedding.
You can raise sheep for wool but must pick the right breed. These include merino, Cormo, Bond, Romney sheep, Tesswater, Debouillet, Borderdale, Corriedale, Polwarth, Finnish Landrace, Comeback, Rambouillet, Targhee, Bluefaced Leicester, and Wensleydale.
2. NUTRITIOUS MILK
Many may not know how nutritious sheep milk is. It has high vitamin levels, especially B-12, vitamins B and C, riboflavin, and thiamine, and double the calcium in cow’s milk. These minerals and vitamins boost your nervous and immune systems.
Many people around the world drink sheep milk and also use it to make yogurt, ice cream, and cheeses like feta, Roquefort, and ricotta. An ounce of sheep milk gives more cheese compared to milk because it contains more solids.
Europe and the Mediterranean regions have a thriving commercial industry for sheep milk production. The Friesian and Lacaune are common sheep breeds for milk production in the United States. Other breeds reared for milk are Icelandic Sheep, Awassi Sheep, and Assaf Sheep.
You can also get milk from Dorset despite being a non-dairy breed.
3. DELICIOUS MEAT
It may not be everyone’s go-to meat, but sheep meat is delicious. Lambs are mostly sold for meat. The best sheep breeds for meat are Suffolk, Cheviot, Charollais, Katahdin, Icelandic Sheep, Tunis Barbari, Barbados and American Blackbelly, Shropshire, and Dorset Horn sheep.
4. THEY ARE GREAT LAWNMOWERS
With sheep on your property, you won’t have to mow your lawn regularly because these animals will do the job for you, saving you money and time. However, monitor your sheep because they can quickly strip your lawn of all the ground cover.
Besides keeping your lawn grass short, their manure fertilizes your yard. Fertilize your garden with sheep manure which is an excellent nitrogen source.
5. SHEEP ARE FRIENDLY
Sheep are naturally docile and gentle animals who happily stay in their flock, grazing without causing much trouble. Although there are select cases of aggressive rams, sheep are generally friendly, and you can easily approach them without them attacking you.
Consider a miniature sheep if you want a pet but looking to move away from the usual cat or dog. Besides, sheep can peacefully coexist with other animals on your farm, so you wouldn’t even have to choose one or the other.
6. SHEEP ARE LOW MAINTENANCE
Keeping sheep is much easier than other animals because they are low maintenance. They can thrive in a mixed, low-quality pasture, and since they are ruminants, they don’t require grain that much. Sheep can comfortably eat hay, grass, weeds, and brush.
These animals can survive eating pasture 24/7, but if your pasture does not generate enough grass, give your flock hay. You may want to fine-tune your sheep’s nutritional needs based on the breed, age, and condition (lactating and pregnant ewes eat more).
Part of caring for your sheep also entails vaccinations, health checkups, providing shelter, and protection against predators. Additionally, grooming is essential, so shear and trim their hooves as needed.
Sheep are left to roam freely in some parts and can safely transverse different areas, including rough terrains and hillsides. For instance, many farmers in Ireland let their sheep roam freely and then round them up when needed. Farmers usually mark their sheep with ear tags or colors to distinguish them from others.
7. SHEEP ARE HIGHLY ADAPTABLE
Sheep can survive diverse weather conditions like extreme heat and cold and live in various environments, from low-lying plains to steep mountains. Their wool keeps them warm during the cold seasons and also prevents overheating when it gets hot.
8. SHEEP ARE EASY TO HANDLE
Handling your sheep gets pretty easy once you understand their personalities, and they get used to you. Note that each sheep can have a distinct temperament and personality, which is important to recognize as that will help you interact with your flock better.
These animals are easily startled and weary around strangers, so they may take some time before getting comfortable around you. Controlling them is easy, provided you approach them patiently and calmly. Their flocking instincts also make rounding up and moving sheep highly manageable.
Generally, sheep are less curious compared to other farm animals, such as goats and pigs, so they are less likely to wander and get out of the farm. Therefore, you don’t require extravagant housing and fencing to contain them.
Sheep do not typically jump over fences, so you don’t need to erect high barriers for your sheep. However, fencing helps keep predators from getting to your flock.
9. LAND MANAGEMENT
Since sheep prefer grazing in upland areas and enjoy eating weeds, they are excellent for vegetation control, helping you eliminate unwanted vegetation. In addition, their small hooves reduce soil erosion and soil compaction.
Sheep have been providing great value to humans for several decades since their domestication, and you can enjoy them by introducing these lovely animals to your farm. Besides their numerous benefits, sheep-keeping is easier to start because its initial cost is lower than other livestock like pigs and cows.
You can commercialize sheep farming by selling their meat, wool, milk, and milk products or even renting your flock to other farms for vegetation control.