[permaculture] Sheeps management

Richard Archer perma at juggernaut.com.au
Wed Dec 3 02:27:52 EST 2003

At 4:32 PM +0100 1/12/03, Antonio Scotti wrote:

>Hello Richard,
>> We typically ran about 3-4 sheep per acre. At that stocking level
>>we had to supplement their feed with grain and hay in summer. So
>>I would think 1 or 2 per acre would prevent them from over grazing
>>the pasture. A ewe with lamb will consume twice as much as a dry
>>sheep too.
>I was hoping that a fenced space of 200 or 300 square meters, divided into 2
>or 3 runs
>in analogy with chicken rotational foraging systems would have been enough.

That would be 3 yards 5 m by 20 m. I think that would be a fairly small
space for two sheep. Unless you have a wonderfully fertile property and
a nice climate I expect you would need to supplement their feed somehow.
Either, as you mention below, letting them range over other pasture
or by feeding grain or hay.

>It comes to my mind that they could perhaps stay in a fenced space overnight
>and then be taken to out
>during the day to a piece of countryside, right outside the farm.Which means
>that somebody will probably have to
>stay with them all the time.

Or they could be on a tether. Sheep don't mind wearing a collar. We
used to have some pet lambs we would tether in the back yard.

>>We used to have to:
>>- cut their feet a couple of times
>What do you mean?

Sheep's "toenails" grow quite rapidly. They need to be trimmed in order
to prevent long-term damage to the feet. Trimming is a simple matter of
turning the sheep over and snipping the long toenails back with a pair
of secateurs. We would do this at least twice a year to all our sheep.

In particularly bad years (drought) the ground is much harder and the
sheep need to do more walking to find food. In these conditions their
feet wear down naturally and don't need trimming.

>If I need milk from the sheep do they necessarily have to have given birth
>to offsprings in order to have milk
>or do they ordinarily produce milk like, I gather, milk's cows?
>But how much milk can a sheep provide daily if fed in the right way?

I think cows need to give birth in order to produce milk. Sheep
would need to as well. I don't know much about milking sheep... you
will get better advice about this from others on this list.

>>If you mean their dung all around the place, there's not much you
>>can do about that. If you mean overgrazing
>Here, yes I ment overgrazing but also scavenging the topsoil with their

Sheep will overgraze a pasture if they don't have adequate food.
I've never noticed bad damage to soil from sheep traffic.

>Another thought comes to my mind. How, having lots of children around every
>day with all their noise etc., may affect the sheeps?

They will get used to it. They can become very domestic if allowed to.
Many years ago we had a pet lamb (probably the one tethered in the yard).
It lived in close to the house and people for perhaps 6 months and was
then returned to the flock. Well, for the next 6 years every time you
walked into it's paddock it would run over to say hello.

>Are carobs a good fodder for them?

I don't know. I suspect they would be better goat fodder. Sheep are
grazing animals. They strongly prefer grass. In times of hardship I have
seen them browse on tagasaste. Whereas a goat would strip the tagasaste
bare before starting to eat the grass.

>How importat it is, that if there have to be two of them, can they be both
>of the same sex or is it better to have male and female together?

If you want milk you will need one of each sex. Unless you get two ewes
and outsource the siring of lambs to someone else with a ram.


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