Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Winter feeding  (Read 4478 times)


  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Highlands, Scotland
  • Home is were my animals are.
Winter feeding
« on: October 30, 2013, 06:28:06 pm »
Hi, lts my first winter with my Boreray sheep, have been giving them sheep crunch and hay when the weather is
bad. Could anyone advise me do l start feeding them everyday mix and hay or hay one day mix the next till
the snow comes ? They are on 3 acres of grassland at the minute and l have 8. Can l put a round bale in the field
with them ? They will be with the tups on Nov 5th so l know l should give them hay till the deed is done or just after. Any input gratefully received  :thinking:  :thinking: :sheep:


  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2013, 07:01:51 pm »
I wouldn't have thought they would need feeding, being a hardy breed. At least not until the winter comes?


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2013, 07:27:23 pm »
I would think they would only need hay and a mineral lick except in deep snow when they might have a tiny fistful of nuts or mix if in lamb and you are feeling soft. At least that's what I do with my Shetlands.... :thumbsup:


  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2013, 08:20:16 pm »
Don't be tempted to over feed a pregnant ewe, you could be opening yourself up to lambing troubles later on.


  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Highlands, Scotland
  • Home is were my animals are.
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2013, 08:23:44 pm »
Hi Novice, l am feeding them because l rescued them this year and they were emaciated , full of lice, never been wormed,
petrified and needed lots of TLC. Look great now but are spoilt with their bucket feed now and again when its
bad weather.  :love: l am completely besotted with them ! Daft l know but they have been through so much
l cant help it  :innocent:
Lachlan ! thats what l called the ram lamb that came with them, couldnt bring myself to give him off, hes a beauty
so he is a companion wether. Thanks for your replies, much appreciated :)


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2013, 08:43:59 pm »
Whats their body condition like now? Unless it drops below 2 I would lay off feeding them, with a primitive, I wouldn't give them hard feed unless they had nothing to go at.

You say they had never been wormed - were they scouring? If they can shrug off a worm burden with no anthelmintics, thats a good thing.


  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 08:08:33 am »
Hi Kelly, im afraid keeping sheep can be very addictive. You probably wont be able to condition score yet, its not very easy, and will vary from primitive to commercial sheep breeds. Your local abattoir in conjunction with Eblex may run a free instruction morning. I agree with Steve, lay off the feeding now they are better, but do it once a week to get them coming to the bucket. Hay when it snows, or they have nothing left to graze on, and mix when when they start losing condition (getting thinner and bony). Good luck  :thumbsup:

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2013, 08:31:57 am »
Hi Kelly. I have kept a small flock of Soay for about 4 years now. Very similar to Boreay. As others have said they won't need hay or mix until it snows or your grass has gone. I start putting a small amount of hay out at this time of year. I was told that it was wise to introduce a bit of hay before it was needed to get them used to taking it and not to change diet too suddenly. Soay breeder told me that Soay and Boreay can refuse hay if they aren't introduced to it at a young age. Do you mean one of the huge hay bales? Ours have part of a small bale put out each day or usually twice daily. Think a big bale would be wasted .... not eaten fast enough ..... and ours refuse hay that has been hanging about even if they are hungry.

We do give a mere handful of mix on a regular basis all year round but this is just to keep them tame. Even when in lamb and snow down they only had a couple of handfuls each of mix ..... twice daily.

I can't easily condition score mine and neither could the local farmer ..... bit different with primitives.


  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Highlands, Scotland
  • Home is were my animals are.
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2013, 06:22:46 pm »
Hi, They are in good condition according to the vet when he checked them :thumbsup:
They were scouring when they came and vet gave them a jag.
Will put a small bale in their covered hay rack, its there if they need it.
Grass isnt the best so will give them small feed at weekend, to keep them coming to me, it helps so l can check
them over. Thank you all very much for your time to answer  :sheep:

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2013, 08:29:38 pm »
Whoops .... think you are talking chickens  :D


  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Fife Scotland
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2013, 11:40:33 pm »
Removed ! a bit of a senior moment.
Shetland sheep, Castlemilk Moorits sheep, Hebridean sheep, Scots Grey Bantams, Scots Dumpy Bantams. Shetland Ducks.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2013, 09:10:53 am »
I think the answer to this depends on so many things:  where you live (far north of Scotland I see, so very different to the south of England); the quality of the grass you have (there's not much nutrition in grass this late in the year); the condition of your sheep earlier in the year as well as now; local soil type (which could create some nutritional deficiencies); your own experience; the weather at the time; your gut feeling ie by looking at them to judge general condition - this is ongoing; age of the animals.
I don't think it's a good move to actually stop the hard feed at this time of year unless you've been overfeeding them.  Next summer when they are fit and the grass is full of nutrients, then is the time they need no extra feeding.  From now on in, as they are being bred this year, they should have a small sprinkling of something such as 'tup and lamb' coarse mix.  What they definitely don't need, at any point, is high protein ewe pellets, which are completely inappropriate for primitives - way too much protein.   What are you giving them currently? My Hebs, Shetlands and Soay have never had ewe pencils or nuts and don't need them.
A further point is that once the tups go in, they (the tups) shouldn't have any hard feed at all unless the snow is on the ground, or hard frost. it can be difficult to manage feeding ewes but keeping the tup away - will make him bad tempered !
Because we still have plentiful grass and they are not otherwise hungry, we haven't started the breeding ewes with even hay yet (our ancient toothless biddies are a different matter - they need nutritional support all year round, although they've not been interested this year because the weather and grass have been great).  I would however offer hay in preference to cereal based feed.  We keep the Tup and Lamb for the colder months, but once started we wouldn't withdraw it completely.  We are in the south of Scotland with good grass (for this location, but poor compared to the lush pastures of Cheshire) but a poor climate - wet, cold, windy and snowy, so the sheep need good nutrition to cope with those conditions.
What is bothering me is the drastic change of condition of these sheep since you got them, so it's not as if you are starting out with fully healthy ewes.  My feeling is that to suddenly completely stop the hard feed they have needed to build them up would be adding in an extra unnecessary stressor.  Feeding once a week doesn't help the specialist gut flora to establish well, hence my suggestion to feed a tiny sprinkle each day.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Thornbury, Nr Bristol
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2013, 09:27:48 am »
I would continue with a small amount of hard feed - just a couple of handfulls as this will help with taming your sheep and make them much more easy for you to handle and deal with. 

Keeping a large flock of sheep is very different from just a few and having tame easy to handle sheep is not a requirement for large flock owners, who often have a working dog to round them all up plus a variety of handling equipment such as a sheep race etc to make life much simpler for them.

When you just have a few sheep/small flock it makes life so much easier if you can catch an individual sheep in the field if it needs attention - this saves you having to bring them all in and saves on stress for everyone concerned.  Feeding a small amount of hard feed works wonders in getting your sheep friendly and seeing you as someone that is good to be associated with!

I am able to catch any of my 24 individual sheep (including my very hefty ram) individually in the field.  Any that don't just run up to me are easily caught at the trough.  I can also change the rams raddle colour just with him stood at a trough nibbling a handful of course mix - I am all for a simple stressfree way of doing things and if this means feeding a handful or two of course mix then so be it. 

I have a large bale round feeder out with my sheep but also cover the top with a large tarpaulin to keep off the worst of any heavy rain. 

Good luck with your sheep - hope you get some fine lambs come Spring next year.  Enjoy your sheep - they are great animals to own and truly addictive!


  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2013, 09:36:40 am »
I think your sheep are very lucky to have found you ;D .  I would agree with the comments by Zak and  :thumbsup: for the Spring.


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