This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 1999, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.

Sheep Equipment

Created by:
Becky Amstutz
Stacie Brinkman
Isabelle Charron

Sheep Handling Equipment:
Equipment that helps or assists you in handling sheep for moving, health checks, vaccinations, shearing, etc.

Halters are used for holding and moving one sheep at a time.

Stands are used to hold sheep by the head to be able to shear, clip feet and get sheep ready for show.
Corral, Cradle, Chute and Scales
 Corrals are used to keep the flock in one area so that they can be worked.
 Cradles are used to hold sheep to check for health problems, clip feet, pregnancy check and vaccinate. The sheep is held and can be flipped, thus the name "cradle".
  Chutes provide an easy way to give vaccines, shots, and condition score. They are a solid sided, one sheep wide hallway of gates.
 Scales are used to weigh sheep and are normally attached to a chute.
Feed Equipment:
 Creep feeders function to introduce lambs to feed. They usually have a gate that only allows the lambs to get in.

 Troughs consist of long metal or wood feeders. They can be bought or homemade and are used to feed sheep in a group.
 Self feeders store feed and let the animal eat as often as it likes.They are recommended for feeder lambs. 
 Portable feeders are movable and are normally used for one to three sheep. They can be pans, buckets, or small hanging troughs. They are great for show and sales.

(Top: Trough Feeder    Middle:  Self Feeder   Bottom: Portable Feeder)
Incline feeders are set up with an incline for the front feet of the lamb to stand on so it can eat. These are useful for show and market lambs.

Hay feeder
-round bale: This looks like a round circular metal fence with room for the animal's head and sometimes the body.
-flake: These are small to large size depending on the group and can be made or bought.

*must be kept clean, fresh water is best

Tanks: big water tanks have to have water brought to them unless they are near a hydrant (offer a long supply)
Automatic: great for larger producers as they are heated normally and are easy keepers
Buckets: pen purposes, also good for show
Natural: ponds, lakes and streams, if available, are a good way to water animals 

Castration & Docking Equipment:

Elastrator  (A)
This instrument is probably the best for both castration and docking. This instrument uses strong rubber rings that can be used for docking and castration.
Place the elastrator where you want to dock the tail. Then release the handles and roll the rubber band off of the instrument. (Remember not to dock it too close to the body. It may cause health problems later on.) The elastrator cuts the circulation of to the part of the tail away from the body. This results in the tail falling off with no blood or chance of infection.
Follow the same procedure, but put the elastrator around the scrotum. Make sure you have both testicles in the scrotum before you release the handles. This will cut the circulation off from the testicles and scrotum. This results in the scrotum falling off with very little stress and d1.iscomfort for the lamb. There is also no blood and no chance of infection.

Emasculator  (B)
This instrument has both a crushing surface and cutting edge.
Place the emasculator around the tail with cutting edge on bottom of tail. Position it where you want the dock and compress slowly. Hold on dock for 10 seconds and then remove it. Apply a spray to help it heal, like iodine.
This instrument can be used for castration in the same manner as docking. However, it is less sanitary, can cause stress to the lamb, and is easily infected.

Scalpel   (C)
This is a medical tool used to castrate with. It consists of a handle with a sharp surgical blade on the end. This is used on older lambs that are too big to band.
Take the scrotum by the hand. Make one vertical incision on each side of the scrotum on top of the testicle. Grasp the testicle and pull outward gently. This will break the spermatic cord. (You may want to cut the cord if you feel that it won’t break.) Repeat the process with other testicle. Then for the lambs’ protection, you should use the elastrator and band the scrotum off. This will prevent infection.

This instrument has two blunt edges to pinch the tail to reduce bleeding.
Place the burdizzo about 1 inch from the body on the tail and close the handles. While the burdizzo is in place, take a scalpel and cut the tail off. Leave it clamped for 10 seconds then remove it and put iodine on the tail.
The way the burdizzo works is it clamps the spermatic cord that is connected to the testicle. This stops the sperm from leaving the testicles.
With one testicle in the scrotum, take the burdizzo and clamp the side of the scrotum that the testicle is on. Then do the other testicle. Do not clamp across the entire scrotum. You still need the blood supply to the scrotal tissues. If done properly the testicles will shrink in size.

Shearing, Wool & Hoof Equipment:

Electric Clippers (Wool- Hair Clippers)  (A)
This instrument is used to trim wool or hair to the appropriate length of show stock. Many breeds have different standards for shearing. The electric clippers are used to slick shear the market lambs, and to trim off excess wool before grooming of breeding classes. Electric clippers are used in flock shearing. Producers usually shear sheep once a year, late winter or early spring. Some producers prefer to shear pregnant ewes before lambing and ewes and rams before breeding season.
Hand Shears   (B)
This instrument is used to do final trimming of wool during the grooming process. The hand shears are used to trim the sides of the sheep until the proper shape is obtained.

Curry Comb  (C) and Wool Card  (D)
These instruments are used to straighten the fibers and break up the fleece. You then trim off the rough until a smooth surface is obtained. 

Hoof Trimmers  (E)
This instrument is used to trim the feet of sheep.
Foot trimming in sheep has two functions:
1) To properly shape the foot in young growing animals.
2) To control foot rot in older animals.
Foot trimming should be done at shearing time in spring and again before breeding in the fall.



Sheep Graphics

Midwest Plan Service  


Jackie's Clip art  

American Society of Animal Science  

Feeding The Ewe Flock