Reflections on our journey with sheep –
2014 – current:
HOUSING & FEED MANGER: We knew we wanted to build a feeder of some sort to help limit parasite load in the sheep. We also needed a covered shelter for rainy days. Click to read what the guys designed for our sheep: https://spiritedrose.wordpress.com/about-us/other-interests/wooly-sheep/sheep-feeder/
PASTURE: In addition to our sheep’s permanent housing area, we have summer rotational pastures in the form of Premier One netted electric fencing that is easy enough for one person to move. For shade, we use an old out of commission trampoline. The sheep love being on pasture. The fields get eaten down more evenly by the sheep than the cows, and they seem to like alternating (cow – sheep – cow – sheep) as to who gets the field next. Need to move them or bring them back to the barn? We’re learning that all you really need to do is catch one or two sheep … and the rest just beg to follow (with a little directing).
MANAGEMENT: A catch pen – a smaller pen within the sheep’s larger pen – is absolutely necessary for sanity. Sheep may be small, but they are super fast. We’ve learned that with a little whistle, they’ll herd in the direction you want them. Swing the gate closed into the smaller catch pen (ideally, no more than 12’x12′) and the sheep are easy to work with.
SHEEP BREED: We tried out a few breeds and we love everything about Border Leicester sheep Their wool is strong and long (1 year growth about 8 inches) so is very easy for home processing and spinning. The ewes are great mothers with gorgeous udders, they’ve had twins almost every time. The lambs mature quickly, are friendly, and grow into a medium-sized dual purpose sheep.
We have met many sheep people, each of which tends to be convinced a certain breed of sheep is the best. Our conclusion? There’s a variety for a reason – different breeds meet different needs!
PARASITES: In bringing together a new flock from commercial environments, we have had to deal with a few cases of worms. In our effort to avoid/limit chemical dewormers, we are researching natural options and have found garlic to be the best fit for our flock. We hope to eventually have an all-natural deworming program. Read more here: https://spiritedrose.wordpress.com/about-us/other-interests/wooly-sheep/how-to-prevent-worms-in-sheep/