Livestock

Sheep equipment

Troughs

You will almost certainly want or need to feed your sheep at some time even if only to get them a bit tame. You can make your own troughs from timber or buy wooden, metal or plastic ones.

Sheep at the troughSheep at the trough

Plastic ones are easy to move around and don’t tip over; they are also easy to clean. Allow 50cm of trough space per adult sheep.

Sheep hurdles

You will need to be able to confine your sheep in order to carry out routine health tasks. Most sheep keepers use galvanised metal hurdles, which are both durable and portable. You can make your own from timber or other natural materials, but these can be heavy.

The hurdles should have a method of joining them together, allowing a secure pen to be built in a field. This can be by loops top and bottom or by a coupling rod.

They generally come in 4ft, 6ft and 8ft lengths and can often be picked up second hand at farm sales. Some types have mesh at the bottom 1/3, so these are best for building lambing pens, as the lambs will be kept secure.

Hayracks

Hayracks come in a variety of designs, to suit different scenarios. Ring feeders are useful if you want to feed big bale forage, and of course you can feed small bales from them as well.

Fence-mounted hayrackFence-mounted hayrack

For feeding smaller quantities, a galvanised hayrack, on wheels and with a cover is a good investment.

Large ones are comparatively cheaper per linear foot than small ones so buy the largest one you can afford. They are also easy to move around to stop the grass being poached.

You will also need some small hayracks for feeding individual sheep; again, you can buy these but they are reasonably easy to make yourself. Feeding forage on the ground is not a good idea, as most of it will be wasted.

Foot shears or clippers

There is a wide range of makes and designs. For preference, choose a serrated blade that is less likely to slip on wet hoof.

The all-metal ones tend to last longer but I have small hands and find them cumbersome and tiring to use, so I have a pair of lightweight plastic handled one that suit me fine.

Foot spray

The ubiquitous “purple spray” is used for general-purpose foot treatment. It’s also useful for routine cuts and abrasions. You can buy it from your local agricultural merchant for a few pounds.

Antibiotic sprays are available from your vet for more serious conditions.

Dagging shears

Not to be confused with hand shears, dagging shears, although similar in design, have a shorter blade about 3½ inches long. This makes cutting through the dags much easier.

Dosing gun

For administering oral wormers (anthelmintics) a dosing gun is essential. Available in both automatic and single dose versions. Ordinary syringes are not designed for administering oral medication, but you can get properly designed drenching syringes for doing small numbers of sheep.

Sheep marker

Marker comes in a variety of colours and is useful for marking sheep in a variety of circumstance – at scanning, to indicate those ewes carrying twins, singles or that are barren; when administering medication, to show those that have been treated; at lambing, to match up ewes and lambs and so on.

Marker is generally available as a spray or crayon – the sprays are quite expensive.

Syringes and needles

You will need syringes and needles for routine vaccinations and for emergency administration of antibiotics etc.

Your vet will supply suitable needles and syringes or you can buy them from most agricultural merchants.

You will also need a sharps disposal bin.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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