SheepKeep - matching livestock to grazing


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Frequently Asked Questions

Why does a sheep die on its back?
A sheep has a rumen which enables it to digest grass. This is basically a large fermentation tank where various bacteria break down grass to produce digestible food. This process produces a lot of gas! The fermentation tank has a pipe in at the front and a pipe out at the back. When the sheep is upsidedown, these exits are blocked so the gas produced cannot escape and just builds up in the rumen until the poor sheep's lungs are crushed and it is unable to breathe.

Can a sheep survive on grass alone?
Well, almost. A sheep needs clean drinking water at all times and sufficient grass. However, it is a good idea to provide access to minerals as well. This can be as simple as a salt lick enriched with minerals and vitamins. (<blocks>)
If ewes are pregnant and in the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy, prolific ewes will also need a high energy supplement. The required amount should be discussed with an advisor. (<feed>)

Grazing Licence
Well, here actually. (<licence>)
This example is kindly supplied by BBOWT and would normally be accompanied by a suitable map.

What is a stock watcher / Lookerer?
Sheep need to be checked every day. This is the job of the lookerer or stock watcher. Essentially this can be as simple as ensuring that the environment is good; sufficient food and clean water, the fences are sound and the gate closed - and the sheep on the right side of them. Then see that the animals are not lame, struck by flies or on their backs. For more details see the (<job>) of the stock watcher.

What does a stock watcher do?
As explained above, the job of the stock watcher is essentially simple. However, the Grazing Animals Project have produced some excellent notes to assist the stock watcher.
Sheep indicators of health (<indicators>)
Looking Procedure (<procedure>)
For more details, check the GAP website (<GAP>)

Who can I talk to about a small flock?
The small Shepherds Club sounds ideal.
Website: www.smallshepherdsclub.org.uk
Email: membership@smallshepherdsclub.org.uk
Tel: 01483 284157

What are tagging requirements in sheep?
While there is yet some hope that these impractical, expensive and useless demands will not be enforced, the current situation is this:
Sheep born before 31 Dec. 09 do not have to be electronically tagged
Ewes and rams born after 31 Dec 09 and not intended for slaughter within 12 months have to be double tagged with one visual tag and one electronic tag. These do not have to be applied for 6 - 9 months.
Store lambs may require electronic tagging.
The system will seriously disadvantage UK sheep farmers and trials have had problems with failing tags and, more important, failing readers.

Have you any advice on Shearing and Wool?
I am indebted to the Natural Fibre Company for these notes on wool.
Click here for the Word Doc

What is the best way to make a grazing match?
Don't wait for people to come to you! The best way is to use the search facility on Sheepkeep. Search for your requirements - perhaps by searching for registrants in your county - and contact anyone who has what you are looking for. Remember, they are listed because they want to make a match too.