NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Sheep poo  (Read 1054 times)


  • Joined Mar 2017
Sheep poo
« on: June 19, 2017, 10:40:38 pm »
I've been looking all day and I can't find the answer... do you need to poo pick sheep? :sheep:

I've recently purchased a 3 acre smallholding and considering a few sheep in the first instance for keeping the grass mowed. I'm still in research phase, no animals yet. I'm trying to find out as much as possible first before deciding what to get. Apart from keeping chickens, I'm an absolute novice.

I know about poo picking for horses, etc, but do you also need to do this for sheep?


  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 10:49:21 pm »
Why would you get rid of free fertilizer???
I would divide your 3 acres into at least 3-4 paddocks and rotate your sheep. For example 1 week on every paddock so the other ones stay vacant for three weeks. That way all the poo will be absorbed by grass which will have enough time to grow back and rest and the parasite larvae should die - I think the parasite infestation is reason for your question.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.


  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 11:03:17 pm »
Thanks for your reply. That's helpful. In all my reading no one mentions sheep poo picking, as with the other animals. It got me wondering about what happens to the sheep poo (apart from my dog rolling in it whenever my back is turned!)  :-\

So sheep poo is different to other animals, in that it can be left on the field?

With only a few acres I know that careful management will be needed for control of parasites.


  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 11:24:00 pm »
Why would you pick any animals poo off the field???
I would do exactly the same thing with horses!
Can you imagine dairy farmer with 200 goes picking their poo every time they went out in the field?
Obviously if you keep them in a tiny paddock with no rotation you would probably pick their poo and put it in compost etc
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.


  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 11:33:20 pm »
Very helpful. Thank you again.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 01:28:16 am »
What happens when an animal dungs on a pasture is that a 'ring of repugnance' (brilliant name) appears around the droppings.  This is where the animal, say a sheep, doesn't graze too close to the droppings, so it doesn't pick up parasites from those particular droppings.  This can leave the field looking a bit patchy, with grazed areas dotted with ungrazed rings of repugnance.  This is one of the reasons for raking pastures, which spreads the droppings more evenly over the field while it's unoccupied, then it's broken down further by poultry, wild birds, flies, dung beetles etc then pulled down into the earth by earthworms and digested by bacteria then eventually feeds the grass or crop.  All part of the great cycle of fertility.
Were you to remove the sheep manure from the pasture you would then need either to compost it then spread it back onto the grass, or apply artificial fertilisers.  Too much artificial fertiliser causes rapid lush grass growth, which in turn can cause scours in lambs and ewes.

What I do in winter, if there's a hard, dry frost, is to sweep up the dried pellet type of sheeps droppings (which tend to appear where the sheep sleep, when they are fed hay), and store them in a bucket.  They are great to use in the flower garden as a much better and easily handled version of poultry pelleted manure.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 01:32:58 am by Fleecewife »

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2017, 08:26:22 am »
I suggest reading the Sheep Book for Smallholders by Tim Tyne.  Sheep are much, MUCH more than "grass mowers".  They are sentient livestock which must be checked daily, wormed, vaccinated, given a constant supply of fresh water, fed hay and concentrates when appropriate, foot-trimmed, dagged, shorn, injected and bolused when necessary, securely fenced, have a handling pen and shelter available, registered with DEFRA, transported in a suitable, cleansable livestock trailer and have a large animal vet on call.   If longer grass, with all the associated benefits to wildlife and biodiversity, is unacceptable then I suggest a ride-on mower be considered.


  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2017, 11:35:09 am »
Thanks for the advice. I think for brevity of the post I said "for lawn mowing" but of course they are much more than that. I've been reading as much as possible, including the articles on this forum and noted the recomnendation list of books, and so realise they have a specific set of needs, as any animal would. Thus asking many questions as I try to hone down the animals I will start with.

I also have kept chickens for many years and realised very quickly their personalities and sentience. I've also worked in dog kennels, and have a cat and rabbits. I would never blindly go into keeping a completely new animal without first knowing as much as I possibly can and preparing myself adequately. I have found this forum very useful for pointing me in the right direction. I expect I will ask many more questions over time.


  • Joined Jan 2010
    • Allt Y Coed Farm and Campsite
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2017, 12:30:40 pm »
You could buy a small quad and attach an old spring bed to the back and tow it round the field to 'chain harrow' it - works well on a nice dampish morning in the dew.  It really helps spread it all out and helps it decompose back to earth.

Or do what I do and walk round the field - pick it up on my boots then walk it through the house - doh! ;)

Good luck - happy dayz :)


  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2017, 01:14:26 pm »
I'm sure given half a chance, my dog would happily roll in it until it was all mashed back into the ground. He loves a bit of sheep poo to help himself smell more attractive (he thinks)... ::)


  • Joined Jun 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2017, 04:15:09 pm »
Hi Safehaven,

If you do get sheep, they will be very lucky sheep! For years, I've kept a few pet sheep on about 4 acres. I've never found the  need to poo pick or harrow the small amount of sheep poo that goes over that large amount of land. You may find the same. However, if they have an area they like to like down in or spend time in (mine have a big field shelter) then you will want to keep those areas clean so that they don't like in muck and attract flies, leading to fly strike.

If you get sheep or lambs that haven't been bottle-fed or tamed by someone else, you may have some difficulty getting to know your sheep in such a large area. While some will come to bucket, others may not. Depending on the breed, they may or may not be "flighty".

Therefore you may want to create a smaller enclosure to start with. When I first got sheep many years ago, I had 5 Dorper cross ewes. I put them in a relatively small enclosure to begin with until they could stand me being in there with them, take food from a bucket, then from my hand, etc. I then made the enclosure bigger and bigger until they had the whole of the place. I got them used to being fed inside 4 hurdles, so that when I did have to trim their hooves they were easily "caught".

Some people divide their pasture into 2 or more sections for the purposes of keeping worms down, which I am sure you will read about in the books. However, as my sheep got older they kind of figure out where they would be in summer and where they would be in winter, when the ponies ate down half the grass anyway, so they developed their own natural rotation.

While I don't poo pick the field for them (I do for the horse poo) I do keep their shelter relatively clean.  When they were in smaller enclosures I poo-picked in order to reduce flies, make sure their fleeces had a good chance of staying clean, and because it was an activity that put me near them without directly addressing them. They started following me around as I cleaned up, in fact.

Eventually, some of them became incredibly friendly, while others were just "tame" in that they would be lured by buckets and put up with me doing work on them.

Hope that helps.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2017, 05:41:37 pm »
We have a small flock of primitives on a couple of acres.

No need to poo pick and never seen much accumulation in any areas of the field even in the shelters.

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2017, 11:51:27 pm »
all sheep carry small amount of  worms which is under natural control.  When an animal is stressed for whatever reason these grow and immunity is compromised.  Hence studden worm burden.  Therefore rotation is essential even on older ewes who have resistance.  Using wormers leaves residue on the ground and stops insects and bung beetles etc breaking it down.  Therefore prevention is the best medicine and good husbandry is essential.  Assuming you are working full time time factors are essential and overheads. Research well, buy good stock and manage well and all should go well.  Sheep are hardwork and sensitive to so many elements.  Good fencing & good quality grass should keep your system ticking over.


  • Joined Jan 2010
    • Allt Y Coed Farm and Campsite
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2017, 11:59:50 pm »
Its always nice to find the right 'consistency' of sheep poo in your fields too - you know they are right when youve got something you can kick :)


  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Sheep poo
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2017, 09:11:58 pm »
I look forward to investigative poo kicking.  :D


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