All a Farmer Needs to Know About Sheep Breeding
Breeding sheep and rams is a good chance for a novice farmer to find their niche in the livestock business. These animals are hardy, have excellent health and are able to demonstrate high performance indicators even with poor feeding.
Moreover, this type of livestock is versatile. Breeding brightly allows you to get meat, wool and milk equally. In this article we will try to answer all your questions. How to start a business, how to feed and care for these amazing animals.
Where to begin
Any experienced farmer on the question “where to start raising sheep?” without hesitation, he will answer, of course, with drawing up a business plan. This will help you better think about the financial costs of acquiring animals, building a sheepfold and places for pasture. In addition, you will be able to calculate the projected profit from the sale of products, thereby knowing the profitability of your business.
Then you need to select a pasture where the animals will spend most of the year and build a sheepfold for winter keeping.
The choice of pasture directly depends on the number of flocks. For comfortable grazing of one sheep and lambs, you need about one hectare of land per year.
In addition, sheep grazing is best done in the immediate vicinity of a reservoir. One adult individual consumes about 10 liters of water per day.
For winter maintenance, it is necessary to build a sheepfold. To keep a dozen females with lambs, it is quite possible to limit yourself to a room of about 40 square meters.
Despite the fact that sheep are immune to temperature extremes, the room should be at least 9 degrees Celsius. In addition, you need to take care of ventilation and the absence of drafts.
Having dealt with the conditions of keeping the flocks, you can proceed to the acquisition of animals. You can buy sheep from farms. Many farmers recommend buying a bright Romanov breed for a start.
You should also think about feed. As already mentioned, animals are very unpretentious in food. Therefore, raising sheep at home is economically beneficial.
From early spring to late autumn, the flock is quite capable of feeding on the pasture. In the winter season, sheep eat root crops and hay with pleasure. Therefore, it is advisable to equip a small vegetable garden in conjunction with a livestock farm.
Breeding for meat
Breeding sheep for meat at home is not a big deal. Animals gain weight very well. Mostly young lambs are used for meat.
They usually do it like this. One or two of the most active males are left (they will be producers), and the rest of the rams are heavily fed in the summer, and slaughtered in the fall.
In addition to green forage, it is recommended to give cake, root crops, grain crops. For faster weight gain, you can use a combination feed.
Council. Before fattening, you can cut the animals selected for slaughter. It has been noticed that sheared sheep have a significantly increased appetite, respectively, the gain in live weight will be much better.
If breeding these animals at home means getting quality and tasty meat for you, you should pay attention to the meat-sucking variety of these pets. They are also called fat-tailed.
Keep in mind that raising sheep means getting not only meat, but also wool. Thus, there is a double benefit.
The wool of these animals is highly valued in production. Gloves, socks, sweaters, carpets, blankets are made from it.
It is recommended to shear the sheep twice a year, before the start of grazing and in late autumn, before the onset of frost. For these purposes, it is best to purchase a special electric machine. This will allow you to process the entire flock with minimal effort.
Council. Before you start shearing the animals, you must leave them without water and food for about 14 hours.
How to properly care for sheep
Caring for sheep at home, although troublesome, is not problematic. The main thing is to follow a few basic rules.
Caring for your flock begins with the mandatory vaccination of the entire herd. This will reduce the risk of infections.
It is worth noting that the vaccine usually lasts about six months, so remember to repeat this activity regularly.
Do not forget to regularly invite a veterinarian to check your patients.
The fact is that some diseases that are fatal for sheep do not have pronounced symptoms at the initial stage. Therefore, only an experienced specialist can determine the disease.
Despite the fact that sheep can endure low temperatures, they also have a weak point. These are hooves. Therefore, the floor in the sheepfold must be planked and covered with straw bedding. In addition, hooves need to be cleaned and trimmed regularly, otherwise joint problems may begin.
It is useful to include salt in the daily diet. In addition, tree branches can be given to sheep as a source of vitamins.
Remember not to try to bring the sheep into obedience by beating and grabbing wool. This can cause stress in animals, which can negatively affect productivity.
Sheep are very prolific animals. Some breeds are capable of producing up to five lambs at a time.
It is worth noting the fact that the survival rate of young animals is very high, about 100%. Lambs do not need special conditions of keeping or additional care. Females have a very developed maternal instinct, so they usually take care of their offspring on their own.
Lambing usually goes away without complications, but it is recommended to invite a veterinarian to be on the safe side. Human participation in the birth of lambs is usually reduced to freeing the baby from the amniotic fluid and removing mucus from the respiratory tract.
Remember that in the first 2-3 hours after birth, the lamb must be fed with mother’s milk. If the female is unable to feed her cub on her own, the farmer needs to milk her and give her lamb milk.
It is worth noting that almost all varieties of domestic sheep during lactation can feed two or three babies without any problems.
Each female is capable of giving about 150 liters of milk during the feeding period. Therefore, some farmers slaughter newborn lambs (their skins are highly valued), and sheep milk is handed over to a cheese dairy.
We hope that all of the above information will help you decide where to start raising sheep and how to care for the animals in the future. Instead of a conclusion, we want to give you some useful tips for keeping sheep at home:
- Choose a pasture away from busy freeways. The fact is that sheep are herd and cowardly animals. From sharp and loud sounds the flock will instantly scatter. Moreover, the animals are also frankly stupid, they are not able to find their way to the grazing place or sheepfold on their own.
- For more comfortable keeping sheep in the pasture, you should think about purchasing an electric fence. This device will protect your charges from predators and save on staff costs.
- It often happens that the flock does not have a leader, so the sheep graze on their own. To keep them in check, you can get guard dogs or graze the flock with the goats.
- In order to control the mating of animals, breeding rams are recommended to be kept separately.