Welcoming and Raising Sheep: 6 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make


Since prehistoric times, sheep have proven to be very useful animals for humans. Its meat, skin or wool are used for food, making objects or making clothes. Today, while ecology calls for new relationships with green spaces and new maintenance practices, sheep are still full of advantages. More and more individuals are therefore considering welcoming and raising sheep. However, there are 6 main mistakes that you should not make in order to succeed in such a project.

Mistake # 1 – Underestimating the space needed for sheep

Welcoming sheep into your home requires a lot of space. And finally, there are few properties that are large enough. Although they appear to be peaceful animals, sheep still need to move to maintain their muscles, but also to have sufficient freedom of movement. Even if your animals get along well, they should be able to take a little distance from each other when they want. In addition, a fairly large space should be necessary to organize pasture changes every three weeks.

The minimum area of ​​meadow to be provided to a sheep varies according to the sources. Some speak of 200 m² while others speak of 1000 m². 200 m² are the strict minimum: they do not allow the necessary change of pasture and exclude the space to be reserved for the enclosure (see below). This area also depends on the breed of sheep chosen, some proving to be more demanding than others.

It is important to consider this need as non-compressible. That is, the area does not decrease with the number of individuals (if they are weaned). As you have to buy at least two sheep because they are gregarious animals which greatly need the presence of their similar, it will be necessary to have a minimum of 400 m², multiplied by two (change of pasture), that is to say 800 m², to which we add the enclosure. 2,000 m² of land for two sheep is ideal. One hectare is necessary for a flock of 10 sheep, even if they are ewes with their young because the lambs will be fed by their mother.

Mistake n ° 2 – Not setting up a shelter

As rustic as they are, your sheep will need a shelter, even basic, capable of protecting it from the vagaries of the weather.

Count at least 2 m² per sheep, and if you can offer them 4, they will be all the better! If you want to breed your sheep, consider designing a scalable space to add a lambing pen when needed and remove it when it’s not. The surface is the same: between 2 and 4 m² per enclosure. He must be in contact with the flock so that the sheep and the lamb are not isolated.

Mistake # 3 – Choosing a breed of sheep that is not suited to the environment

Since there are a large number of breeds of sheep, we cannot list them here. For France alone, 58 breeds are listed. But the choice seems wider than it actually is for a novice breeder. It is particularly important to choose a breed of sheep adapted to the nutritional qualities of your land. And for that, the rustic breeds are undoubtedly the most suitable.

Let us take the example of the Solognote breed. It is spreading more and more to develop wetlands, land with poor and woody vegetation. It also turns out to be quite versatile because Solognot ewes have good maternal qualities and produce tasty meat.

Your aesthetic tastes will have to intervene only to make the choice among the 3 or 4 races which you will have identified as adapted to your ground and to the local weather. The brown wool and brown skin of Solognot sheep do not appeal to everyone.

Mistake # 4 – Underestimating the impact of the animal’s age and gender on its character

The age of the sheep is not necessarily the most important criterion to take into account when adopting it, but it does vary the price of the animal, its character and the time it will spend with you.

Ewes or lambs, less than a year old, cost less and are easy to tame. Their mother does not have enough milk and the breeder has to give them bottles several times a day. Very quickly close to humans, they can be interesting for a family.

However, there is a difference between females and males: an ewe lamb will be gentler and less invasive as it grows up than a lamb, especially since the latter, adult, can reach 150 kg, depending on the breed you have chosen, and will therefore be more difficult to master. This tendency can be limited by castrating the male.
Cull ewes (that is to say that can no longer have lambs or can no longer suckle them; they have become useless for a professional breeding which must get rid of them) will be just as able to make you happy for long periods of time. years. The time spent by your side will simply be shorter.

Rustic breed sheep can hope to live a good Fifteen years, a few years older than sheep of so-called “improved” breeds The adoption of a sheep is therefore a commitment and it is preferable to have a stabilized situation to consider such a project.

Mistake # 5 – underestimating the care of sheep

With a few rare exceptions, sheep need to be shorn at least once a year, often in the spring. Sheep that overwinters in the barn are often shorn a second time in the fall. It is generally professionals who do the mowing. On the other hand, there are other treatments which are carried out by the owner.

This is the case with the care of hooves. This corresponds to three to five treatments per year, depending on the nature of the soil on which the sheep evolve, but also on their diet.

When sheep change little pasture, they are more sensitive to the development of parasites, thus suffering from diarrhea, weight loss or even stunted growth. It is then necessary to carry out regularly the analysis of the excrements and the deworming of the whole herd, each time using different products to limit resistance.
Finally, depending on the breed of your sheep, you will have to intervene more or less during hot weather and severe cold.

Mistake # 6 – Ignoring the Law

You become administratively a breeder as soon as you acquire your first sheep. This is all the more important as the laws that apply change with the rate of disease and epidemics, and may even vary from one department to another. Your situation must therefore be taken seriously.

Your contacts are the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP) or the House of livestock of the department or region. During the free declaration procedures, you must appoint a health veterinarian. In particular, he will perform a blood test to certify that your herd is officially free from ovine brucellosis.

Mandatory procedures represent a significant cost. And not being in order to save some money is a risk that can lead to the slaughter of the herd in the event of epidemics or during administrative checks.