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Keeping Sheep

New Zealand's stunning landscapes, rich agricultural heritage, and famous flocks of sheep dotting its fields have long been iconic symbols of the country. For many Kiwis who own lifestyle blocks, keeping sheep isn't just a hobby; it's a way to connect with the land, preserve tradition, and enjoy the gentle rhythm of rural life. In this guide, we'll explore the essentials of keeping sheep on your New Zealand lifestyle block, from choosing the right breed to maintaining their health and welfare.

New Zealand sheep

Choosing the Right Breed

Before diving into sheep farming, it's crucial to choose the right breed for your lifestyle block. In New Zealand, several breeds thrive in different climates and landscapes. The Romney, for example, is a hardy dual-purpose breed known for its ability to adapt to various conditions, making it an excellent choice for many lifestyle block owners. Other popular breeds include the Corriedale, Border Leicester, and Perendale, each with its own unique characteristics suited to different farming goals and environments. Researching breeds and considering factors like climate, available pasture, and intended use (whether for wool, milk or meat) will help you make an informed decision.

Setting Up Your Property

Once you've selected your breed, it's time to prepare your lifestyle block for your new flock. Fencing is essential to keep your sheep safe and contained, especially if you have neighboring properties or roads nearby. Electric fencing is a common and effective choice for sheep, offering both security and ease of maintenance. Ensure your pastures are well-maintained with nutritious grasses, adequate water supply, and shelter to protect your sheep from harsh weather conditions.

Nutrition and Grazing Management

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Proper nutrition is vital for the health and well-being of your sheep. Rotational grazing, where you divide your pasture into smaller paddocks and rotate your flock between them, helps prevent overgrazing, improves pasture quality, and reduces the risk of parasites. Supplementing grazing with hay, especially during winter or dry periods when pasture quality may decline, ensures your sheep receive a balanced diet year-round. Additionally, providing access to clean water at all times is essential for hydration and overall health.

Healthcare and Welfare

Regular health checks and preventive care are crucial for keeping your sheep healthy and thriving. Establish a relationship with a veterinarian experienced in sheep care who can provide guidance on vaccination schedules, parasite control, and general health maintenance. Familiarize yourself with common sheep ailments and symptoms to watch for, such as foot rot or internal parasites, and take prompt action if any issues arise. Good stockmanship and attentive observation are key to ensuring the welfare of your flock.

Breeding and Lambing

If you plan to breed your sheep, understanding the basics of reproduction and lambing is essential. Keep detailed records of breeding dates, ram performance, and lambing outcomes to inform future breeding decisions and monitor the overall productivity of your flock. Provide adequate care and support for pregnant ewes during lambing season, ensuring they have a clean, quiet environment and access to assistance if needed. Proper nutrition and management during pregnancy and lactation are critical for the health of both ewes and lambs.

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Sheep Make Wonderful Pets 😊

Sheep offer unique opportunities for children to learn about companionship, trust, responsibility, empathy and the joys of caring for animals. Children can actively participate in feeding, watering, and grooming their pet sheep, helping them develop a sense of responsibility and empathy for the animals' needs. They will learn how to approach and handle sheep safely, including respecting their personal space and will learn about the importance of providing proper nutrition, shelter, and welfare to ensure the health and wellbeing of their pet sheep. Sheep also offer excellent educational opportunities for children to learn about animal behavior, biology, and agriculture and they will observe firsthand how sheep graze, communicate, and interact with each other, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world.

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Shearing

Appletons Sheep Shearing Day

The boys mucking in on shearing day at Appletons.

Shearing sheep serves several important purposes:

  • Welfare
    Sheep grow wool continuously, and without regular shearing their fleece can become too cumbersome, leading to discomfort, overheating, and even health issues such as flystrike.
  • Hygiene
    Shearing removes dirt, sweat, and contaminants from the sheep's fleece, promoting better hygiene and reducing the risk of skin infections.
  • Health Monitoring
    Shearing provides an opportunity for farmers to assess the health and condition of their sheep, identifying any potential issues such as parasites or injuries.
  • Wool Production
    Shearing is essential for harvesting wool, a valuable natural resource used in textiles, garments, and other products.

Sheep Manure | Organic Fertilizer

Sheep manure is a nutrient-rich organic material containing essential elements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and various micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These nutrients are released slowly as the manure decomposes, providing a steady supply of nourishment to plants over time. Sheep manure typically has a near-neutral pH, making it suitable for a wide range of plants and soil types. Unlike some other animal manures, such as chicken manure which can be alkaline, sheep manure's neutral pH minimizes the need for additional pH adjustments in the soil. By composting, topdressing, mulching, or making fertilizer tea with sheep manure, gardeners and farmers can harness its benefits to enhance soil fertility, reduce weed pressure, and cultivate thriving gardens and crops in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Conclusion

Keeping sheep on your New Zealand lifestyle block offers a rewarding opportunity to connect with nature, preserve agricultural traditions, and enjoy the simple pleasures of rural living. By choosing the right breed, preparing your property thoughtfully, and prioritizing nutrition, healthcare, and welfare, you can create a thriving flock that brings joy and fulfillment for years to come. Embrace the unique challenges and joys of sheep farming, and relish in the timeless beauty of life on the land in Aotearoa.

Rumen Nuts 25kg | Weston
Rumen Nuts 25kg | Weston
Rumen Nuts 25kg | Weston
Rumen Nuts 25kg | Weston

Rumen Nuts 25kg | Weston

Kibbled Maize
Kibbled Maize

Kibbled Maize

Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L
Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L
Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L
Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L
Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L
Green Nylon Stock Water Trough 9L

Large Green Nylon Water Trough 9L | Ideal for Stock

Wood Shavings | Bedding
Wood Shavings | Bedding
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings | Bedding
Wood Shavings | Bedding
Wood Shavings | Bedding
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings
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Wood Shavings | Bedding

Wood Shavings | Bedding

Appletons Stock Shelter
Appletons Stock Shelter
Appletons Stock Shelter
Appletons Stock Shelter
Appletons Stock Shelter
Appletons Stock Shelter

Stock Shelter | Appletons

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