This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 2007, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.


YOUR FIRST SHEEP!

Hi kids! Our names our Dustin, Hallie, and Caitlin. We want to teach you all about how to care for your very first sheep. Some of you may have dogs or cats, but sheep are very different. They need special care to be a great pet. Pay close attention and take notes because there's a secret quiz at the end. So, let's get started!

Dustin
Hallie
Caitlin
Dustin
Hallie

Caitlin

 

FOOD

Corn feed
Corn Feed

Do you know what sheep like to eat?

Sheep don't eat cat or dog food, or even cow food. They have food made just for them at a feed mill. If your sheep lives in your field, they will eat pasture and hay. You can also give them a grain, like corn, soybeans, and oats.

Sheep eat hay from a trough
Sheep eat hay from a trough
This one sure is friendly
This one sure is friendly
   

Do sheep drink water?

Sheep need to drink lots of water just like you and me. They like their water to be really fresh and clean too! You should always make sure your new friend has a full bucket of water. Don't let it run out!

Caitlin fills a bucket of water
Caitlin fills a bucket of water

 

GROOMING

Dustin shears his sheep
Dustin shears his sheep

Did you know that sheep have lots of hair?

Well, actually, sheep hair is called wool. Sheep wool grows and grows, just like our hair does. Every year you will need to give the sheep a trim called shearing. Special scissors are needed to shear your sheep. This will take lots of practice, but you'll get the hang of it. Their wool will have lots of dirt and grease in it called lanolin. The wool can be cleaned and then spun into a new sweater just for you!

 

HOUSING

Sheep need a house for lots of reasons. You'll need to provide your sheep with a shelter. This lets them stay warm and dry during all types of weather.   They may want to stay in the shelter when it's really sunny, cold, rainy, windy or snowy. Remember that your sheep will need some fresh air too. You can also make a nice, soft bed by laying down straw. Separate stalls for sheep
Separate stalls for sheep

The new lambs are so comfy in the straw
The new lambs are so comfy in the straw

 

HEALTH CARE

Vets use lots of different medicines
Vets use lots of different medicines

Do you go to the doctor?

Sheep need to go to the doctor too! The sheep doctor is called a veterinarian. They will make sure your sheep is happy and healthy. Sheep need yearly vaccines for two diseases: tetanus and enterotoxemia. You will also need to deworm them on a regular basis. This will get rid of any bugs in your sheep's stomach.

 

QUIZ TIME

Whew! We sure did learn a lot about sheep. Do you think you're ready to take care of your new pet? Finish this quiz to see!

1. I can feed my sheep any type of food that I find.
          T or F
2. Sheep need lots of water every day.
          T or F
3. Trimming the wool off of your sheep is called
     a. shearing    b. hair cutting    c. edging
4. My sheep will need shelter to protect it from the weather.
          T or F
5. The best doctor for my sheep to see on a regular basis is:
     a. My dentist    b. My mom   c. My veterinarian

Answers:

1. F, sheep should eat only certain types of food. These include pasture, hay, and pre-mixed feed.
2. T, sheep need lots of water just like you and me.
3. Shearing is when you trim the wool off the sheep.
4. T, most sheep will benefit from a shelter.
5. Your veterinarian is the only person that should take care of your sheep's health needs.

 

CONCLUSION

So, how did you do? I hope that you learned a lot and you are ready to start taking care of your sheep.   With the help of your parents and veterinarian your sheep will have a great life!

Be sure to check out these websites for more information on how to raise your first sheep.
- www.ansi.okstate.edu
- www.search.oznet.ksu.edu
- www.ag.iastate.edu

 

THANKS

Thanks to Barking Rock Farms for all of their help regarding sheep maintenance. Also, thanks to Purdue University 's Sheep Unit for allowing us to take wonderful pictures of the sheep.