July1 , 2022

Sheep Best Management Practices



Sheep Best Management Practices



Your primary goal is to reduce stress through good management, nutrition and proper health care.


Observe animals daily by looking at their behavior and their movement — watch for any limpers (catch, examine and treat if necessary) and for animals hanging back or that don’t get up to feed.

Gently handle all sheep, refrain from yelling, yanking legs and horns and pulling wool.

When handling sheep, squeeze them into a small space with a gate.

Sheep typically move away from a rattle and a crook. There is no need to hit.

Facilities should include an easy way to catch and restrain animals for observation or treatment.

Provide adequate space for each animal based on its size, breed and other recommendations.

Manage facilities with sanitation and disease prevention in mind.

Clean out pens at least yearly.

Provide dry pathways for sheep to move to and from pasture.

Provide daily outside access to a well drained area for sheep not on pasture (no mud).

Move animals to new pasture based on the condition of the current pasture, its regrowth and parasite control. The average stocking density is five sheep per acre.

Provide adequate fencing to keep sheep in and predators out.

Permanently identify all animals with an ear tag or tattoo.

Read also: how to start a sheep farm business

If you plan to castrate ram lambs, do so before 14 days of age. If ram lambs are kept intact, separate rams from ewe lambs by 5 months of age.

Dock (remove tails from) lambs before 14 days of age, if included in management system.

Plan for breeding ewes based on your lamb market or your management system.

Wean lambs at approximately 60 to 80 days of age.

Consider checking ewes’ pregnancy by ultrasound, if available.

Dry ewes after weaning by feeding lower quality roughage, reducing water intake and not providing concentrate (grain).

Observe or feel ewes’ udders at weaning and daily for two weeks after weaning.

Evaluate ewes with body condition scores two months before breeding and adjust feeding accordingly.

Evaluate ewes with body condition scores after weaning and adjust feeding accordingly.

Select replacement ewes from ewe lambs at 120 days of age, using records.

Select replacement ewe lambs at 80 pounds.

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