Farm­ing sheep

• The ba­sic guide to • Sheep are a pop­u­lar choice for those new to life­style blocks, how­ever keep­ing them healthy can be chal­leng­ing.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Down On The Farm -

Peo­ple new to coun­try life of­ten see sheep as eas­ier to han­dle and less scary than larger com­mon farm an­i­mals like cat­tle.

Cer­tainly some sheep are rel­a­tively trou­ble-free, but most re­quire more vig­i­lant care and proper man­age­ment than an in­ex­pe­ri­enced farmer may re­alise.

Sheep are not woolly lawn mow­ers. They are ru­mi­nants, a very dif­fer­ent di­ges­tion sys­tem from hu­mans, and must have ad­e­quate and ap­pro­pri­ate feed, mostly grass once they're weaned from milk as lambs.

They may need to be treated to con­trol in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal par­a­sites. They will need to be shorn reg­u­larly, un­less they are a spe­cial breed that sheds its wool.

They need to be checked on daily, or more of­ten if they are in bad health or dur­ing very hot or very cold weather.

You must pro­vide them with what they need to live com­fort­ably, and res­cue them if they find unan­tic­i­pated trou­ble. To do that, you need to know how they be­have nor­mally.

What is nor­mal be­hav­iour for a sheep?

Learn­ing their nor­mal be­hav­iour isn't com­pli­cated – it will re­quire your in­ter­est and a lit­tle at­ten­tion.

Sheep spend lots of time graz­ing on grass, and lots of time ly­ing around rest­ing, usu­ally con­tent­edly chew­ing their cud which is feed they’ve eaten ear­lier and grad­u­ally process by burp­ing up small amounts and re-chew­ing it. They should be alert and in­ter­ested in things around them be­cause they in­stinc­tively know the next thing through the fence might be a dan­ger. In some neigh­bour­hoods, that could well be a dog. Get to know what your an­i­mals look like when they're happy and re­laxed – this will make it much eas­ier for you to know if some­thing is wrong.

Some­times sheep will lie flat out on their sides but not of­ten; some­times they'll sit with their ears down, but not for long or of­ten. If ei­ther of those be­hav­iours

is seen, check that an­i­mal. A sheep which looks sad will be de­scribed as ‘de­pressed’ but not in an emo­tional sense – she’ll be phys­i­cally de­pressed as she's feel­ing un­well and that means you need to act im­me­di­ately to find out what's wrong with her be­cause she won't be able to fix it on her own. The longer you leave a de­pressed an­i­mal, the more dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive it will be to fix her if she is sick or in­jured.

If you can't fig­ure out what’s wrong, you'll need ex­pert help, and this usu­ally means a vet who will come to your prop­erty. You may be able to take a lamb in to your lo­cal clinic – ring and ask them, as it’s free to get ba­sic ad­vice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.