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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping sheep
...Slaughter practicality
...Jacobs crosses
...Ram management
...- Feeding
...- Castration & strike
...Summer & autumn

Keeping sheep is very rewarding.

They are gentle creatures, providing us with playful lambs to watch in the spring, that finest of fibres, wool, and finally with delicious lamb and mutton. They also eat grass like lawn-mowers and kindly scatter their droppings finely all over the field they are natural muck-spreaders.

Depending on breed, sheep will thrive on thick luscious grassland, slowly nibbling away their days while remaining happily within their boundaries, or they will survive on rough moorland with the wind whistling around their thick fleeces, acknowledging no man-made boundaries. At least they are quite territorially minded on the moors and establish their own range.

The first stage in sheep-keeping is to match your available grazing with a suitable breed. Having chosen a breed, you can go to a market and bid for some or find a farmer who breeds to sell. The latter course is definitely preferable.

For a start, you can get a lot of good advice about sheep by listening to practising farmers. You can also take a good look at your prospective sheep while they are carrying out their natural occupation eating grass. The sheep you buy will not have suffered the stresses of having gone to market, been unloaded, penned and reloaded. Also, and this is very important, they will not have come into contact with a lot of other sheep (potential bug-carriers).

Farmers Weekly carries advertisements of sheep for sale as do some local papers. Breed societies can put you in touch with potential suppliers as well. If you choose a breed that is not specific to your area, you may have to travel a fair distance to get your sheep. It is worth remembering that unless you are providing your own transport, the cost of transporting the sheep will probably be higher than your own.