Raising sheep can be a pleasant and fulfilling hobby if you have a small farm or even a rural property with a small amount of accessible pasture space. Because you may raise them for food and fiber, they also make wonderful pets, are willing employees, and are multitaskers for small farms.
In addition, many individuals who live in rural areas keep sheep as companion animals, treating them like pets. Due to their ability to thrive on a diet of grass alone and their low fencing requirements, sheep make great livestock for small farms and suburban backyards.
This article will discuss the necessary things you need to know about having a sheep in your backyard.
- 1 Can I Keep a Sheep in my Backyard?
- 2 Do Sheep Make Good Pets?
- 3 How Many Sheep Per Acre Should You Have On Your Property?
- 4 How Much Space Does a Sheep Need to Graze?
- 5 Do You Need HOA Permission To Keep Sheep?
- 6 Do Sheep Need a Barn?
- 7 How To Protect Sheep From Predators?
Can I Keep a Sheep in my Backyard?
Keeping sheep as pets is against the law where you live; typically, only rural areas allow this. Depending on where you live, you might need to license your lamb if you plan to keep it as a pet in a suburban or urban setting. You can raise sheep of any variety in a suburban yard. Picking an animal’s breed is usually down to individual taste or practical considerations.
Sheep are characterized by their propensity for grooming. If you had a large field, they would spend all day eating grass and would only stop to rest and let the rumen process it. Biting the cud is a term for this behavior. These sheep spend a great deal of time confined; therefore, their diet consists primarily of grass.
They respond to the meal in a manner that is fundamentally comparable to how they would respond to grass. After a meal, they settle down for a period of rest and reflection. To guarantee that they receive adequate nutrition and nutrients, you can take care of a predetermined grain quantity in your yard.
Do Sheep Make Good Pets?
There is no history of people keeping sheep as pets because the species is not considered fully domesticated. Sheep do better with the company of other sheep; unless they are trained early, you may clean up their poop if you keep them inside. Sheep have the potential to become used to and even seek out human affection.
Spending more time with one makes them appreciate it more. In addition, lambs seem particularly sensitive to human interaction and will enjoy spending time with children and adults alike. On the other hand, sheep humans have never handled may be fearful of humans and would rather flee than calm down if they were held.
While lambs can be housebroken and are perfectly content to spend their time indoors, most sheep need access to outside areas for grazing and overall health maintenance. This implies you can have sheep as house pets, but you should also ensure they get enough exercise and fresh air outside.
You can even keep them as pets in the house, though they need regular outdoor time and should be kept in groups of at least a handful. You should only consider getting one as a pet if you have a lot of time and room.
How Many Sheep Per Acre Should You Have On Your Property?
At most, you should have no more than four sheep per acre, although it’s best to start with two. You’ll likely need to make some adjustments when you decide to expand. When winter comes, and there is less grass and hay to go around, your sheep will go hungry if you calculate your herd size on the current vegetative supply.
According to some estimates, a single adult sheep can consume up to 4.5 pounds of grass daily. To increase your flock, you’ll need to provide them with extra pasture. The soil itself is a crucial consideration. Farming more sheep requires fertile soil to support more plant life per acre.
Nevertheless, if the soil only produces a small amount of flora, it won’t be able to feed as many sheep, and you’ll need more land to do so.
The weather is another variable to factor into your plan. There may be less plant life in parts of the world where winters are long and cold and there is frequent snowfall, as opposed to those places where winters are mild and the growing season is longer. This means that the number of sheep you may keep per acre is directly related to this.
Similarly, natural disaster-prone regions can limit the variety of plants you can cultivate there. Nutrient depletion due to a lack of growth can be caused by natural disasters like droughts, floods, fires, and pests. It’s important to keep this in mind before settling on the number of sheep you’ll keep per acre.
How Much Space Does a Sheep Need to Graze?
A farmer could tell you that the amount of grazing space necessary for sheep changes based on various factors, such as the type of grass currently available, the time of year, and the overall health of the sheep. However, as a rule of thumb, a sheep need between two and three acres of grass to graze on.
Sheep typically require two acres of grass per head, but a lush pasture could reduce that demand to one. Conversely, the acres required to care for sheep properly can increase to four or five if the grass is dry and brown. Seasonal variations also play an important role.
Since a sheep can consume more grass throughout the spring when it is green and rapidly developing, it requires less area. However, a sheep’s grazing area needs to be expanded during the colder months when the grass is less plentiful.
If a sheep is healthy, it can graze much more densely than if it were ill. For instance, a pregnant ewe has greater room requirements than a ram. In some cases, yes. An estimated single sheep requires between two and three acres of grass. The welfare of the sheep is, at last, of consequence.
Do You Need HOA Permission To Keep Sheep?
If you live in a suburban or urban area, you may be required to obtain a license to keep a lamb. The Rural Payments Agency requires registration as a holding whether you keep a few sheep as pets or a large commercial herd or flock. You must apply for a County Parish Holding number (CPH).
Depending on where you live, it’s possible that raising sheep as pets is against the law; in general, this sort of thing is allowed only in rural areas. If you intend to keep your sheep as a pet in a suburban or urban location, you may be required to obtain a license for your sheep, depending on where you live. A suburban yard is a suitable environment for rearing sheep of any breed.
Choosing an animal breed is typically determined by personal preference or more pragmatic factors. Due to the versatility of sheep, it is possible to rear them effectively, even in extremely small fields or paddocks. However, this method may require additional labor, management, and effort to reach our sheep.
Do Sheep Need a Barn?
There’s no requirement for a barn when raising sheep. Sheep have little needs and are simple to care for. The most important item for sheep is protection from the elements, but a barn is optional. Provided they have protection from the elements, and sheep can remain outside all year round.
They also require clean water and high-quality forage. Outside sheep grazing has several advantages. As herbivores, they may easily satisfy their dietary needs by grazing on grass and other plant matter—this aids in maintaining their health and wards off the risk of obesity.
It’s not good for the health of a sheep to keep it indoors all the time; the animals get bored and may even get sick. Sheep that are kept outside can also benefit from regular contact with dirt. The sheep frequently lick their coats, consuming little amounts of dirt.
Sheep require the minerals and vitamins in this mud to maintain good health. It aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system as well. As a result, keeping sheep outside does not require a barn, but it does have several advantages. Raising sheep in the open air could be a terrific option if you have the room and the means.
How To Protect Sheep From Predators?
1. Proper fencing
It would help if you had a strong fence to keep potential dangers out of your yard. Sheep are more easily controlled than other types of livestock, making they’re raising a more practical option than other types of livestock farming. Indeed, because of their wool, sheep naturally resist the effects of electricity. As a consequence of this, it is not always simple to electrify them.
The problem is that a low page wire or wooden fence won’t protect the sheep from predators as effectively as it would protect the sheep from humans. Consider installing hot wire along the fences outside to increase security. In this way, you may rest assured that your sheep are safe from harm. The barbed wire will trick if you can’t utilize an electric fence.
2. Breeding The Perfect Sheep
When choosing the best sheep for your farm, remember a few things. There’s also the breed’s propensity to congregate in flocks, which you’ll need to consider. Sheep are helpless against predators unless they congregate in large groups. There is a tendency for the whole flock to follow the lead of even one errant sheep.
Flocking behaviors can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the circumstances, such as the type of predators you’re trying to protect your sheep from. Flocking behavior may not be as concerning if you’re more worried about animals that frequently hunt in packs.
3. Herd Protectors
Utilizing a livestock herald animal is a great way to delegate the responsibility of protecting your animals to an outside party, reducing your exposure to danger. Guardian dogs that specialize in protecting livestock are a common choice. These animals are reared and raised among the sheep and taught to be friendly with the sheep but fierce when threatened.
Finding a reliable livestock guardian animal might be difficult. When it comes to dogs, in particular, it’s important to find one that has received considerable training. If you don’t, the animal could turn on the sheep and attack them. Therefore, having this animal around your sheep from the time it’s a puppy is highly recommended.
Donkeys, llamas, and alpacas can also serve as livestock guardian animals. However, due to the bigger size and more obvious threat posed by cattle and other large livestock, some shepherds prefer to grow their sheep alongside these animals.
4. Animal Husbandry
The unfortunate reality is that sheep are vulnerable to attack from predators throughout the year. Lambs are the only prey animals you need to be concerned about while trying to discourage certain predators, such as birds of prey and raccoons. Consequently, you will be able to lower the risk of predation by putting into practice some of the finest practices in animal husbandry.
It’s possible to lamb in the late spring or summer when predators are less active and food is more abundant, protecting the sheep and their newborns. In addition, you should lamb when you have more time to keep an eye on things. Since wide varieties of sheep only breed during certain times of the year, it’s simple to predict when they’ll have their lambs. Some are, but you’ll need a more nuanced strategy for those that aren’t.
5. Nighttime Penning
Make it a practice to keep your sheep in the barn overnight, especially at difficult times of the year, like lambing. If you don’t want to confine your sheep, move them to a pasture that’s more easily accessible from your house or other buildings. For several reasons, this serves as an excellent predator deterrent.
It will help keep your sheep close so you can hear them if something goes wrong, and it will also deter predators from attacking because many animals are less reluctant to approach if they see people.
Many advantages result from keeping sheep as a livestock item. Due to their compact size, diversified diet, and preference for upland grazing, sheep make excellent farm animals for weed control.
Although, one of the most obvious benefits of keeping sheep is its economic value. Still, sheep grazing is also a terrific method to manage your agricultural environment and keep your property open.