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Sheep are often seen as difficult and stubborn animals to take care of. But, in reality, they can be surprisingly simple to manage if you know the basics. The key is to pay close attention to health (more on that later). Whether you're looking for a small pen or want to let your sheep roam free on pasture land, there are certain necessities that will keep them happy, healthy and content. Read on to find out how to take care of your sheep like a pro!
Fencing for Your Sheep
The first thing you need is a sturdy fence for your sheep, whether it’s in a pasture or a small pen. Sheep have a knack for escaping any loose fence. If you’re using a confined pen, cattle panels are best because they provide a solid fence that is difficult for them to break, and usually can’t get their head stuck in, keeping them safe and secure. If you’re going with a pasture, woven wire works well but can be hard to tighten and maintain. You could also train your sheep to respect an electric fence - just make sure you have at least 5 strands running across the area, two or three of which should be hot. If your sheep escape, simply put them back in the pen and watch for about 10 minutes. They will usually go right back to where they got out and you can then fix it.
Food & Water Sources
Your sheep will need access to clean water - preferably from a tank no higher than 12 inches off the ground so they don’t have trouble reaching it. If they're out in pasture, grass will do fine; they’ll even prefer weeds over grass, so you can easily clean a weedy pasture up! If you keep them in a confined area, hay and grain should be provided at certain times during the year (more on that later).
Shelter and Protection
Sheep are very easy prey and need protection from predators. If your sheep are on pasture this could be a llama, donkey, livestock guardian dog, or a combination. Even in a confined fence, having a guard animal with them will help deter predators sneaking into the pens when you’re not around. When have a few pens that are difficult to seal up from the outside and are often targets for predators. We run a guard llama or donkey in those pens. I have a guardian dog for my bird flock, and will add another specifically for the sheep in the future. Additionally, make sure some form of shelter is available for lambing season so the mothers (and their offspring) can stay warm and dry when necessary.
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