Sheep Farming


Sheep farming is the raising and breeding of domestic sheep. Sheep are raised principally for their meat, lamb or mutton, for their milk, or for wool. They also yield sheepskin and parchment.Sheep are also very selective in their grazing habits. Sheep have a split in their upper lip, with which they are able to pick the preferred leaves off of the plant.Sheep usually give birth once a year and have 1-3 lambs. They normally live to be about 8 years old, but can sometimes live to be as old as 20. Pregnancy lasts for 147 days. Lambs form strong bonds with their mothers. They can identify their mother by her bleat.Sheep are ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach, using the first chamber to store quickly ingested food (cud) which they then bring back into their mouths to chew again before fully digesting it. Sheep spend about a third of their life ruminating and need peace and quiet.


Breeds Merino corriedale south down Hampshire down Romney marsh dorper red masai Somali sheep
Brooding Pure-breeding: Pure-breeding is the mating of rams and ewes of the same breed or type. A pure bred flock can be managed as a single flock because all ewes and rams are of the same breed. The goal of pure bred sheep production is to provide superior genetics (seed stock) to the commercial sheep industry. Seed stock are marketed as rams and replacement ewes to other seed stock producers or to commercial sheep operations.Out-breeding: Within pure-breeding, there are several types of mating systems. Out-breeding is the mating of animals of the same breed but which have no closer relationship than at least 4 to 6 generations. Out breeding is the recommended breeding practice for most pure bred sheep breeders.Inbreeding: Inbreeding is a system of breeding in which closely related animals are mated. This includes sire to daughter, son to dam, and brother to sister. Technically, inbreeding is defined as the mating of animals more closely related than the average relationship within the breed or population concerned. The primary genetic consequence of inbreeding is to increase the frequency of pairing of similar genes.Linebreeding: Linebreeding is a system of breeding in which the degree of relationship is less intense than in inbreeding and is usually directed towards keeping the offspring related to some highly prized ancestor. The degree of relationship is not closer than half-brother half-sister matings or cousin matingsCrossbreeding: Crossbreeding is the mating of rams and ewes of different breed compositions or types. However, it does not denote indiscriminate mixing of breeds, but rather is a systematic utilization of different breed resources to produce crossbred progeny of a specific type. Crossbreeding is used extensively in the commercial sheep industry and the majority of slaughter lambs are crossbred.
Feeds and feeding While forages are the most “natural” diet for sheep and usually the most economical, a sheep’s nutritional requirements can be met by feeding a variety of feedstuffs. The rumen is a very adaptable organ.Feedstuffs can substitute for one another so long as the sheep’s nutritional requirements are being met, dangerous nutritional imbalances are not being created, and the health of the rumen is not compromised. Feeding programs should take into account animal requirements, feed stuff availability, and costs of nutrients.Pasture: Pasture is high in energy, protein, and palatability when it is in a vegetative state. However, it can have a high moisture content when it is rapidly growing, and sometimes it can be difficult for high-producing animals to eat enough grass to meet their nutrient requirements. Vegetation with high moisture content can also cause sheep and lambs to have loose bowels.Silage or Haylage (ensilage);Silage (or ensilage) is a generic term for livestock feed that is produced by the controlled fermentation of high moisture herbage. Silage can be made from forage or grain crops. It has been successfully fed to sheep; however, special attention must be paid to quality, as moldy silage can cause listeriosis or “circling disease.” Listeriosis is an occasional cause of abortion in ewesEnergy feeds: There are two types of concentrate feeds: carbonaceous and proteinaceous. Carbonaceous concentrates or “energy” feeds are high in total digestible nutrients (TDN), but tend to be low in protein (8-11 percent protein). The most common energy feeds are cereal grains: corn, barley, wheat, oats, milo (grain sorghum), and rye.

Protein feeds: Proteinaceous concentrates or “protein feeds” contain high levels of protein (over 15 percent) and are usually plant-derived. Examples include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and fish meal. Ruminant-derived meat and bone meal cannot (by law) be fed to other ruminants, including sheep.

Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Bloat The skin on the left side of the animal behind the last rib may appear distended Antibiotics
Arthritis Joints swollen and painful Antibiotics
Tetanus Stiff Gait, Lock jaw, convulsions Tetanus anti-serum and antibiotics
Housing Housing needs for sheep vary by climate, season(s) of lambing, and management preferences of the shepherd. If lambing will occur during periods of inclement weather, more elaborate housing is usually required. If lambing will occur on pasture during periods of mild weather, simple shelters may be all that is needed.Lambing percentages are usually higher when shed lambing is practiced. Housed sheep have lower nutritional requirements, whereas sheep kept outside have fewer respiratory problems.In addition, most operations need facilities where they can store feed, bedding, and equipment. Hay stored in a barn or shed will maintain its quality better than hay that is stored outside, even if the hay is covered. Equipment will last longer if it is housed under a roof.Barns (and similar structures) are often built for the comfort and convenience of the shepherd. During cold or inclement weather, it is easier and more enjoyable to care for sheep that are housed. However, housing costs can add significantly to the investment costs of a sheep enterprise.
Grazing systems Continuous grazing: Continuous grazing is a one-pasture system in which livestock have unrestricted access to the pasture area throughout the grazing season. It is a simple system to implement and manage, with minimal capital investment and movement of animals. If sufficient forage is available, continuous grazing often results in a higher individual animal performance than other grazing systems.Controlled grazing: Controlled grazing gives the producer more control over grazing animals. It has many different names and variations.simple rotational grazing Simple rotational grazing is a pasture system in which more than one pasture area is used and livestock are moved to different pasture areas during the grazing season. Pastures need rest periods to recover from grazing and allow plants to regrow. The longer a pasture rests, the less infected it will be with worm larvae.Strip grazing: Strip grazing is a grazing management system that involves giving livestock a fresh allocation of pasture each day. It is usually organized within a paddock grazing system and the animals are controlled by the use of an electric fence.Creep grazing: Creep grazing is when young nursing animals are given forward access to fresh, ungrazed pasture through an opening in the fence. To be effective, the forage in the creep area must be superior to the forage in the non-creep area. The greater the difference between forage in the two areas, the greater benefit to creep grazing. In addition to better nutrition in the fresh paddocks, infection with infective worm larvae will be lower.

Year-round grazing: Year-round grazing is possible even in cold climates, though extending the grazing system is probably a more realistic goal for most producers. Tall fescue is the best grass to stockpile for winter grazing. Small grains, root crops, and crop aftermaths are other options for extending the grazing season. Warm season grasses can improve forage availability in the summer, when many cool season plants go dormant.

 Regions Reared in arid and semi arid areas


Processing Mutton is processed and packaged into steaks. Most of it is consumed unprocessed.


Place Mutton is marketed locally and also exported internationally.
Price 1 Kg of Ram costs kshs 400


Products / Uses Main product of sheep is mutton. Others include wool, cheese for dairy sheep.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Total fat 21g 32%, saturated fat 9g 45%, monosaturated fat 9g, polysaturated fat 1.5g, cholesterol 97mg 32%, sodium 72mg 3%, potassium 310mg 8%, protein 25g 50%, calcium 1%, vitamin B12 43%, iron 10%, vitamin B6 5% and magnesium 5%


Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years.Contrary to popular misconception, sheep are extremely intelligent animals capable of problem solving. They are considered to have a similar IQ level to cattle and are nearly as clever as pigs.Sheep display and recognise emotion by facial expressions.Sheep are known to self-medicate when they have some illnesses. They will eat specific plants when ill that can cure them.Sheep are precocial (highly independent from birth) and gregarious (like to be in a group).

Female sheep (ewes) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their lambs that can recognise them by their call (bleat) when they wander too far away.

Egyptians believed that sheep were sacred. They even had them mummified when they died, just like humans.

Sheep are one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Sheep are seen to represent righteousness, sincerity, gentleness, and compassion.






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