Feeding Hair Sheep


~Feeding Hair Sheep 101~

Hair sheep are known to be very hardy and parasite resistant. They can generally live on pasture alone (as long as you manage them properly). In this post I am going to go over exactly how we take care of our hair sheep and what we feed them.

Disclaimer: Hair Sheep are one of the easiest animals we have ever set out to raise! Much easier than goats, cows, etc! Feeding them is pretty straight forward, but there are a few things to know, so your operation will go smoothly.

#1 Rotating Pasture

If you have good pasture and can rotate your sheep onto fresh grass often enough, your sheep should be able to completely thrive off grass. Rotating Pasture also keeps parasites at bay, keeping your sheep nice and healthy. Another thing rotating pasture can do for you is help your profit margin! With less money spent on feed, your income will flourish more. When you see that the grass is getting yellowed or trampled down, move them to fresh grass and they will have an all new buffet to graze on! 
However, there are a few things to consider when thinking about rotating and pasturing your hair sheep. 
#1 is predator control. Right now we are using the Premier Electric Sheep fence and are not having any trouble with predators. However, you may want to think about adding a guardian dog or donkey to your herd for protection against dogs and coyotes.
#2 is weather! Even though Hair Sheep are known to be very hardy, you still need to watch out for ewes with new lambs! We have had so much rain this year, the ground stays wet and saturated in some places. When a new lamb is born, even if the mom gets it clean, if it can't get out of the wet it may very well die. We have just made it a habit to keep the ewes that are due to lamb in the barn and keep the ewes and lambs in the dry barn till the lambs are a few days old and until the threat of wet and cold goes away. Cold by itself would probably be fine, as long as it's not wet and the ewes and lambs can get in where it's dry. 
Otherwise, as long as it's not wet and cold, your hair sheep should be able to thrive outside!
#3 You can have 5-10 Hair Sheep per acre. Right now we have 10 ewes and 6 lambs using 3 of the Premier Electric Sheep fences put together. We move the fence about every 3-4 days. It is very very easy to move, the sheep are very easy to move as well. It keeps us from having to spend a lot of money putting up perimeter fence and cross fencing. It's a wonderful way to go!
#4 Rotating keeps parasites at bay. Hair sheep are already virtually parasite resistant, but rotating pasture will just help all the more to keep your sheep from contracting any parasites. 

#2 Grain 

We feed grain when the ewes are lambing, to make sure they get all the nutrients they need and bring in enough milk. We also grain when they have to be inside when it is too wet for the lambs to be outdoors. You can either mix your own grain or buy a mix for sheep. It is important to make sure none of your grain has any copper in it, as copper will kill sheep. 
Corn is a great feed for Hair Sheep! When we mix our own feed, we use a mix of a Sheep (Small Livestock) pellet, Alfalfa Pellets and Whole Corn. But to make it easy, you can also buy a Sheep Feed from your local Co-op. We use a Sheep Grower Feed. You really only need to feed grain when your ewes are lambing and when they are in the barn with their lambs for bad weather. Otherwise good grass is very best for them. We feed our ewes from a few weeks before lambing, till the lambs are fairly big, like 5 weeks old, to make sure the ewes keep up their milk production and get the nutrients they need. Now if it was summer and/or dry and the pasture wasn't so saturated, we may not have to grain at all, so all this would really come down to how your land drains and where you are located!

#3 Hay

If you have good pasture this probably won't apply, however if your sheep will be spending any time in a barn, or when grass is scarce, feeding hay will be important, as sheep need to be continually grazing. We feed either Bermuda Hay or Prairie Hay and our Hair Sheep do well on both.

#4 Water

Lastly it is important that sheep have unlimited access to fresh clean water at all times!
So That's about it! Our Hair Sheep have been pretty Black and White to care for! There isn't a lot of deworming or extra effort to keep them healthy. The are hardy, virtually parasite resistant, easy to keep weight on if managed properly. They are very easy to rotate pasture and seem to know where you want them to go. The lambs grow rather quickly. Hair Sheep are also so much easier to keep in the fence, then other livestock we have had! They are really a joy to have!

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