Owning Sheep

The Big Idea

Before adopting or buying any pet animal, it is always important to ask yourself why and how you are adopting. Unfortunately, too many farm animals each year are either abandoned, given away, killed, or abused because their owners were not ready to care for them. Sheep, however, are the perfect animals for both new and established farmers.

They are fun, loving, and easy-to-care-for pets. They will add enjoyment to your lives (and views), and are great animals to start out with on your farm. The sheep you would be adopting from us are all orphans, and have survived tremendous struggles. With amazing backstories, they are each small champions and deserve an amazing future.

Why Sheep?

Environmentally, sheep are very eco-friendly. They are lawn mowers with no gas output! You will not need to spend money on a lawn mowing service, or spend time on your own lawn mower, in the areas of your property where you have sheep ever again! In addition, sheep’s poop is amazing fertilizer, and will keep your land healthy without requiring manure removal. This is why Paris, France, uses sheep to graze their lawns! Read about it in this (hyperlinked) article.

In addition, sheep are one of the easiest farm animals to care for. They require very little maintenance and are much less likely to damage your property (fences, buildings, etc.) than other animals. Sheep in general, but especially bottle-fed orphans, are very friendly and would make wonderful (outdoor) family pets. The breed of lamb we have, Katahdins, in particular, are easy to care for because they are a hair sheep rather than a wool  sheep, and typically do not require shearing. With a weight range of 120-250 pounds (ewes are closer to 150, while rams are closer to 200), they are around the size and height of dogs, making them less intimidating than other animals. Sheep are also very calm and docile pets, and will hang out with you and follow you around.

How?

As mentioned above, sheep are easy to care for, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t require work and responsibility. From spring into fall, sheep will graze on grass and other plants as their food. They will only require fresh water, although some farmers also supplement hay and grain throughout the entire year. In the winter, however, sheep need hay and grain daily to supplement for nutrient-barren plant life. While they do not take a lot of time to feed, it is an added task. Sheep will also need salt/nutrient block licks, or supplements, but these are very easy to find, get, and provide for your animals.

Sheep do not technically need shelter, but it is suggested that they have some sort of three-sided area to sleep in/escape from the elements in. This is typically referred to as “run-in shed” or “sheep pen”.

In addition, sheep are flock animals. This means that you cannot have only one sheep. Not only will a lone sheep be in a lot of danger of being attacked, but it will also grow very lonely. Sheep should be with other sheep, but as long as your sheep has another (friendly, and similar) animal with it, it should be okay. Goats are the next best companions to sheep, but you must keep in mind that while goats need to have copper in their diets, sheep can never have copper in their diets. This simply means that you will have to monitor which animals get which nutrients.

Lastly, while rams are in less danger, sheep are still prey animals. Wild animals such as foxes (less likely), coyotes, and dogs (more likely) are large threats to the safety and lives of sheep. It is recommended, but not required, that you get livestock guardian animals for your sheep. Animals such as donkeys, mules, cows, dogs, llamas, and alpacas can all serve as very valuable protectors and friends of your livestock.