The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: Womble on December 08, 2012, 09:20:37 am

Title: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Womble on December 08, 2012, 09:20:37 am

OK, when you've all stopped  :roflanim: ing, can I ask your advice please?  ;)

We don't have any four legged livestock of our own yet, so have let our field to the local farmer for his sheep. I've been diligently clearing ice and giving them buckets of water each morning for the past few weeks, but I've not actually seen any of them drink it, and nor are there many footprints around to suggest frequent visits.

So am I wasting my time?  Do sheep need a supply of un-frozen water in the winter, or do they just eat snow and get on with it?  :D .

Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Pedwardine on December 08, 2012, 09:48:22 am
I rarely see my sheep drink water in the freezing weather despite my ice breaking efforts every morning but I still give them the option. I presume there's enough moisture on the ground. Find it odd all the same. I very rarely need to replenish the water troughs.
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Remy on December 08, 2012, 09:49:23 am
They don't drink much in wet weather as they will get a lot of moisture from the grass, but I would always make sure they have access to a supply as when it's frozen they won't be able to get any from the ground and if you are feeding supplementary hay they will need it  :)
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Sylvia on December 08, 2012, 09:50:20 am
Womble, not a silly question at all. Sheep, except nursing ewes, drink very little water and some folk think they need none at all. All I can say is, if they only need a sip a day it must be available for them and fresh. You're doing the right thing. :)
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Big Light on December 08, 2012, 10:25:31 am
they only really drink lots when being fed concentrates
they get a lot of required intake via water in grass etc
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 08, 2012, 11:57:59 am
Yes they need water.  Always.  But if they're on grass only they mostly get it from the grass.  Exceptions being lactating ewes or ewes close to lambing - they'll drink gallons a day if given the chance, and will produce more milk for it.  I  ::) at farmers who tell me 'sheep don't need water' in one breath, then complain about Texels having no milk in the next  ::).  Give them water, say I, then cull any that still can't rear twins credibly.

When snow is on the ground, if sheep are eating grass only, they can get their water requirements from the snow.  In prolonged cold spells, they will really appreciate a little warmth in fresh water - imagine coping with weeks of -21C yourself and not being able to get a hot drink! 

When they are getting supplementary feed, either cake and/or hay or silage, they will need additional water, yes.  If it's not available then they will be able to eat less supplementary feed, simple as.
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on December 08, 2012, 12:44:40 pm
mine definitely drink water, not a lot but they do drink it. So I think it is worth your efforts, altho I wouldnt be too concerned if they didnt have it every single day if they arent being fed any concentrates.
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Womble on December 08, 2012, 02:00:34 pm
Thanks folks.  Unfortunately it means I'll have to keep on carrying the buckets, but at least I know now that my efforts aren't being entirely wasted!

We're hoping to get some sheep of our own in the Spring, so be prepared for loads of other daft questions then!  ;D
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: moprabbit on December 09, 2012, 09:52:18 am
My sheep definately drink water when they've got hay - in fact this morning when I went out, I gave them some hay, checked the water wasn't frozen and sat with them while as usual. After eating the hay for sometime one of them went straight over for quite a long drink. So yes - they need water!
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Canadian Sheepfarmer on December 09, 2012, 03:13:47 pm
The old shepherds knew that sheep needed far less water than cattle, that's one reason they were kept on downs and mountainsides. But they do need access to clean water in my opinion, in the hot summer days without question. They are more fussy about the state of the water than cattle too.
Here we get lots of snow, and the sheep definitely, prefer fresh, clean powdery snow to water. They spend a long time savouring it. But as has been said if they are eating all dry food, are lactating, or are rams then they do need water. 
I worry that rams get blokey type problems if they don't keep everything flushed out with sufficient water.
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Garmoran on December 09, 2012, 05:54:41 pm
It is easy to assume that sheep don't need water, because at times they do drink very little.

Mine get sugar beet pellets in winter and many of them then go straight from the feeding trough to the nearest source of water.
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: Bramblecot on December 12, 2012, 06:21:06 pm
I brought some wethers in for a few days before they were sent on last week.  They were on hay and a little coarse mix and each drank about 1/4 bucket a day. 
Title: Re: Do sheep need water?
Post by: cleopatra on December 13, 2012, 06:44:56 pm
mine dont drink hardly ever but i would imagine you must provide it for the 5 freedoms etc.