Sheep make good pets

Keeping and raising sheep

Sheep are herd animals and must not be kept individually. As a rule of thumb for the space requirement, “10 ares (1000 m2) per breeding animal” can be assumed. This is enough for the summer pastures including the young animals and for the hay for the winter.

As an infrastructure, a dry and draft-free stable or a shelter closed on three sides is mandatory all year round. Pastures that are only used temporarily must be provided with shelters. For animal care (clipping, hoofing, deworming, etc.), gates or stable compartments are helpful. Solid wire mesh or electrically operated pasture nets and litz wire fences can be used as fences. When it comes to electric fences, it is important that they are always taut, kept free of grass and operated with powerful electrical devices. This is the only way for the animals to respect the fence and avoid accidents with farm animals and wild animals. Willow nets (Flexinet) often sag. This makes them less effective because live parts of the network come into contact with the ground. They are therefore to be mounted upright and well stretched. Especially in the corners, it is important to stretch the corner bars of the nets outwards with cord or to fix them with strong corner posts. If you want to help wild animals such as deer to better recognize willow nets, weave them through with blue ribbons or cords.

Frugal contemporaries
Land sheep are frugal and meet their energy needs for the most part with roughage (grass and hay). Normally they do not need high-energy supplementary feed. For mother animals raising lambs, a supplementary concentrate feed is definitely recommended. Small additional gifts also help to gain the trust of the sheep. Those who regularly give concentrated feed will soon be greeted loudly every time they come to their sheep. If you don't like that or have noise-sensitive neighbors, you should think twice about how much and often concentrates should be on the plan. In addition to clean drinking water (permanently accessible if kept in stables, accessible at least twice a day if kept on pasture), minerals in the form of special lick bowls or stones should always be accessible.

Regular wool and hoof cut
Sheep must be sheared at least once a year. The shearing is usually done in spring. Sheep that spend the winter in the stable ideally get a second cut in autumn. The way the wool is processed can also have an impact on whether it is sheared once or twice. Regular care is also advisable for the claws. The cutting interval is between three and five times a year and depends on the nature of the ground on which the claws wear, the diet and the individual predispositions of the animals. While hoof trimming is part of the regular work of the sheep farmers, the sheep are usually placed in professional hands for shearing.

Aries - even as young animals - should not be petted or scratched on the head, as this can lead to adult animals becoming aggressive.

Unlike in the past, when sheep mostly grazed across large areas, today they are often kept on the same pastures. Parasites benefit as their eggs are excreted by the sheep and taken back in by other grazing sheep. Diarrhea, emaciation, coughing and stunted growth are signs of parasite infestation. Sheep farmers counteract this with changing pastures, have the parasite situation examined using fecal samples and deworm the entire herd, if indicated, with alternating active ingredients. The dosages must be strictly adhered to, as insufficient dosages can result in the formation of resistances.

Sheep keepers must be registered with the animal traffic database (TVD) with their farm and are obliged to report a wide variety of data to the authorities. From January 1, 2020, all animal movements must be reported to the animal traffic database. More information on this is available from the communal and cantonal agricultural offices and www.agate.ch.

Anyone who wants to keep more than 10 sheep and does not have any agricultural training is obliged to complete the relevant qualification course (SKN).

breed
Breeding animals must be physically healthy and have breed-typical characteristics. To be safe with the latter, you should only breed with pure-bred animals that are recorded in a stud book and have a pedigree certificate. This is the only way to calculate inbreeding.

In addition, only breed with well-nourished and dewormed female animals (floodplains) so that they are sufficiently fit for pregnancy. Because in the last phase of pregnancy the growing lamb needs more energy than the mother animal can take in with food.

When choosing your breeding animals, make sure that genetically little represented individuals are encouraged and animals with a higher genetic presence are used cautiously. In this way you are helping to keep the gene pool of the entire population broad.

The ProSpecieRara land sheep breeds are aseasonal, which means that the floodplains can be pregnant all year round. Floodplains are fertile for two days every 17 days and gestation lasts for 5 months. Because the dams are good suppliers of milk with rich grass forage and mild weather, the lambs that are born in spring, when the animals have lush pastures again, start life optimally. If you cover your animals in late autumn and early winter, you are certainly not doing anything wrong.

Twins are not uncommon, litters with three or even four lambs are rarer and are often referred to as "luck in the stable", but with the old land breeds they are more of a challenge for the meadow and keeper than luck, because the mother's milk production is enough so many lambs often only barely, which is why it may be appropriate to offer additional lamb's milk (available as powder). If the lambs are born on the pasture, it must be ensured that the fresh lambs, which are still a bit wobbly on their legs, are protected from predators such as foxes, especially overnight. This is even more important in small breeds like the Skudden. Floodplains are often brought into their own stable compartments for throwing, which accommodates the natural behavior of the mother animals to break away from the herd to give birth and facilitates the care and monitoring of the animals.

For the perfect start in life, the Aue first produces so-called colostrum for its offspring. If the lambs do not receive this milk in the first few hours of their life, they often do not develop optimally in the first few days. Attentive breeders watch their animals during this delicate phase and ensure that rejected lambs, for example, get a sip of this valuable milk. If the mother does not let a lamb on the udder, you can fix the meadow and lead the lamb to the teat. Colostrum can also be frozen so that in such cases it can be thawed, tempered and, for example, administered into the lamb's mouth with a syringe.

Lactating (milk-giving) dams must have access to fresh water at all times, as lactation demands a great deal of fluid from their bodies.

Depending on the amount in the soil, it is advisable to give the lambs a dose of selenium in the first 24 hours (protection against white muscle disease). Lambs must have access to roughage from the third week of age.

By law, lambs are to be marked by the animal owners with official TVD ear tags and reported to the TVD from 1.1.2020 (until then, in the club's stud book). Tagging lambs that are a few days old is certainly not a great thing, but it is essential to keep track of their parentage. The holes in the ears caused by the ear tags usually heal smoothly in young lambs.