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Dairy Sheep Care

Sheep care can be a very simple matter once you've learned the basics and come up a routine, your sheep will practical care for themselves.


Sheep require at least a 3 sided shelter in order to get out of wind and weather. It is generally recommended that this be south-facing to block most of the weather. If kept in a large pen or on pasture, their shelter does not need to be larger. However, it should be large enough to accommodate all of your adult sheep as well as all of the lambs they might have during lambing season. Depending on the number of sheep you raise, you may need multiple shelters out on your pasture.

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If the pasture is rich, sheep will not require much supplemental feed when they are dry (not lactating). Some breeds require more supplemental feed than others. A good quality hay should be provided as dry roughage for sheep. Frequency of feeding is up to the shepherd but it is common to feed once in the early morning and once in the evening. A quality Orchardgrass mix makes a good hay for dairy sheep.

Lactating sheep require grain. Most grain specific for sheep will do, even an all-stock will work for them. I prefer to provide my sheep with a sweet feed but only when lactating for flushing. I feel that they need the extra calories to keep up with all the milk they produce. An underfed dairy sheep will become skinny very quickly and once they have lost the weight, it is difficult to put back on while they are still lactating. So it is important to feed them well while they are pregnant but not too much as it can cause labor problems.

Alfalfa pellets, oats, and beet pulp can also be added to their grain during lactation. These extra supplements will help them produce rich milk. Make sure that when feeding sheep, that you do not provide them with any feed or minerals that contain copper. Copper is toxic to sheep and while some copper will not kill them instantly, a slow build-up of copper in their system can and will be fatal to them. Copper can be found in feed, minerals and supplements specifically made for Goats and Cattle so steer clear of these when food shopping for your dairy sheep.