• Wednesday 16 October 2019

    6 Facts That You Didn't Know About Sheep Farming

    Sheep Farming is a branch of animal husbandry that involves raising and breeding sheep. These sheep are primarily bred for wool, meat and milk. Usually, sheep farming entails rearing sheep for commercial basis as it is rare for people to rear sheep as a hobby. The major sources of income for sheep farming come from the sale of lambs and the cutting off of the woollen fleece of the sheep which is referred to as sheep shearing. Whoever shears a sheep is called a shearer and he uses sheep shears.

    Sheep farming in the United Kingdom (UK) employs about 34,000 people on farms and provides 111,405 job opportunities in affiliated industries. The UK’s sheep farming industry is divided into categories or layers and these categories are based on the different sheep breeds and the environment in which they are bred.

    This system is divided into three levels which are hill, upland, and lowland. According to the National Sheep Association, some sheep will stay on the same farm or at least in the same tier for their whole lives, while others are moved down the system. Additionally, this system is crucial in keeping the UK sheep industry potent and efficient, as a crumble in any area would affect the entire system.

    Unknown Facts About Sheep Farming
    So, there are some facts about the rearing of sheep that are not known to most people except those who are in the business of sheep farming or affiliated industries. These facts would be made known to you in this article.

    Facts About Sheep Wool
    Unsurprisingly, the most common thing people know about sheep is its wool. A sheep does have hairs, especially around its nose and ears but these hairs do not grow the same as the wool on its body. It is this wool that gets trimmed off, usually once a year or twice a year.

    A full-sized ewe would produce a fleece that weighs about 7-10 pounds, nevertheless, about 30-40% of that would be taken out when the wool is cleaned. This is because of 30-40% is dirt and Lanolin. Lanolin is from the sheep’s wool and repels water, thereby keeping the animal waterproof. When this percentage of dirt is removed, the sheep produces about 4-5 pounds of usable wool.

    Facts About Sheep Breeding
    5-7 months after birth, all sheep reach the age of puberty and by the 8th month are ready for breeding or fattening. There are criteria before choosing a breeder sheep, the ewe, which is the female sheep must weigh 35kg, while the male sheep, that is the ram must weigh 40kg. The testicles of the ram should have a circumference of 30cm.

    The ewes are ready for mating by the 8th month, are only fertile for two days and its ovulation cycle is every 17days. Your ewe is pregnant when her mammary glands become developed, the abdominal region enlarged and has a bulging vulva.

    Facts About Sheep Habitation
    Sheep are very gentle animals and were among the first animals to be domesticated about 10,000 years ago in central Asia and the production of sheep dates back to Biblical times, thereby, making sheep farming the oldest organized industry.

    Naturally, the best place to raise sheep is outside with lots of grass as sheep are grazing animals. However, they would prefer to be in a shelter if there are heavy winds. They use these shelters as their windbreak and also to escape heavy rains and scorching heat. Making a shelter is dependent on your creativity and the materials available, and you need not spend so much money to do so.

    Facts About Sheep Diet and Grazing
    Sheep like every other livestock need food to survive. If you are lucky to be surrounded by grass, thick, lush pasture, you have little or no worries when it comes to feeding your sheep. However, if you are surrounded by cemented grounds, snow or no grass in your pasture, your sheep definitely needs hay with an additional source of protein added to the hay to help the lambs develop their muscles quickly.

    Sheep graze usually in the early morning and late afternoon of each day. The former is usually a lesser grazing session than the latter. Grazing time depending on the breed, pasture and water available last about 5-10 hours per day. Additionally, sheep love and need water, most especially clean, running water. They are known to reject dirty water and prefer water from running sources like brooks or streams, rather than water in a bucket or bowl.

    Facts About Sheep Behavior
    Sheep are very sensitive animals and make different sounds to communicate their emotions. They display and notice emotion just by your facial expressions, hence, shepherds are careful not to spook or alarm them. Sheep are prone to hide the pain they feel than show it because it is believed that exposing pain makes them vulnerable to predators. A study shows that sheep is much less likely to show obvious signs of pain than a domestic dog.

    They experience various natural emotions like disgust, happiness, rage, fear, despair etc. They are also known to get attached easily and therefore, build friendships where they fight and stick up for each other, as well as, experience sadness whenever their friends get killed. Another fact you probably aren't aware of is that a sheep can recognise up to about 50-55 other sheep and know them for two years, except these other sheep get sheared. They also remember human faces.

    Facts About Sheep Marketing
    Due to the fact that people in the sheep farming industry derive the majority of their income from the sale of sheep or its meat, the price of sheep is a major determinant on the profitability of the sheep enterprise. The marketing of sheep could be in the form of carcasses for butchers, foundation stock for breeding, the wool of the sheep or other sheep products.

    As expected, healthy and well-groomed sheep are marketable and easily sold, while the unhealthy and thin ones are usually sold at discount prices.

    Summarily, as mentioned above, the rearing of sheep is not expensive and have little or no technicalities to it.

    One fun fact about sheep farming is that President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America grazed sheep on the White House Lawn.

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