Categories | Farm Animal Breeders | Sheep Breeder
Sheep are one of the most common livestock animals in the world but you might be surprised to learn that they also make great pets. Here is some information on these fascinating animals.
Sheep are actually one of the earliest domesticated animals, tied with goats for second animal to be domesticated. They are most commonly thought of as a farm animal as they are used for their wool or for the meat that they produce (lamb or mutton) but they can also be kept as pets as they are quite gentle and respond well to human contact. There are actually more than 1000 distinct sheep breeds worldwide and they come in all sizes, shapes and colours. Sheep range in weight from 45 to 160 kilograms depending on their breed and sex.
Sheep are flocking animals, so they tend to stay close together. They are also very food oriented, so will easily associate humans with food if they are handfed often enough. Flocking behaviour normally happens when they are four or more sheep, otherwise sheep will act as if they are alone, either fleeing from perceived danger or threatening to charge if they are cornered. Sheep are often thought of as being unintelligent but they can recognise individual faces – both of other sheep and of people – and remember them. They are also capable of learning to recognise their name and can be trained to walk on a halter.
Sheep are grazing animals that eat grass, clover, forbs (a broad leaf plant other than grass), and other pasture plants. They tend to eat a wider range of plants than cattle but less so than goats. Sheep graze for around seven hours a day, generally in early morning and late afternoon. If you wish to give your sheep supplements, do so in the middle of the day so as not to disrupt their normal eating patterns. If you cannot give your sheep access to grass or similar plants, you’ll need to give them food such as hay. Common supplements include grain but you must be careful not to give too much. Of course, you will require a constant source of clean water.
Caring for Sheep
Whether sheep are being kept as pets or as livestock, they still have the same basic needs. You need to make sure that your sheep have easy access to shelter at all times. As well, if your sheep grows wool, it will have to be regularly sheared. Hooves will also need to be trimmed regularly. Sheep often have their tails docked, especially if they are being used for livestock, to help prevent a condition known as flystrike. Sheep live for up to 20 years but they generally live for around 10 or 12 years on average.
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