The most important thing to any sheep or goat operation-no matter how big or small-is animal health. If you don’t have healthy animals, you don’t have anything. Some key factors of keeping your herd healthy is
1. Easy access to clean, fresh water at all hours of the day, and even at night.
2. Plenty of good quality feed. Either grass or grass/alfalfa hay or a good pasture will do.
3. A well ventilated (but draft free) enclosure that allows your animals to get out of the wind, rain, and/or hot sun as well as a pasture or a fenced-in yard for the animals to get outside and exercise. Animals need fresh air, too!
4. A trace mineral block or a pan of loose minerals (you can buy either of these at any farm supply store.) CAUTION! If you raise sheep, be sure that any trace mineral block, salt block, or a free choice loose minerals that you are getting are for SHEEP! Most products have too much copper and you can kill off your herd in no time. Just make sure that whatever product you are buying is labeled for sheep. There are trace mineral blocks you can buy that are for both sheep and goats, which can save you a lot of time if you have your sheep and goats together. Check it out here: Sheep + Goat minerals
5. If you live in an area where coyotes, dogs, wolves, bears, bobcats, lions, or other predators possibly roam, you have to either 1.) have a guard animal to watch over your flock (I’ll write more about the different kinds of guard animals later) or 2.) have a fence high enough that nothing can climb over and buried deeply enough that nothing is digging in, or 3.) you’ll have to devote the time to shutting your sheep/goats up in a barn or shed every night and letting them out again every morning.
6. You have to make time for these creatures. They do require care. If you’re looking to get a pet that you can leave unattended for days on end, I recommend you get a goldfish. Because the bottom line is, both sheep and goats need a shepherd. They need YOU. That’s right. They need you to pay attention to them and protect and care for them.
If you can’t/won’t give your sheep and goats what they need, you’re not going to have a healthy flock. And if you don’t have a healthy flock, there is no point in having sheep or goats. That’s all there is to it. Take care of these animals. Don’t neglect them or leave them to fend for themselves. They aren’t wild animals. They are domesticated livestock and they need you to watch out for them and keep them safe, healthy, and happy. Do that, and you’ll have yourself a flock that is worth it’s weight in gold. 🙂