Caring for Your Sheep

There are a few easy steps to maintain a happy, healthy flock. Remember that we stand behind all of our sheep and will be here to help you with coaching and advice as long as you own your them. That's the Six Wags difference! 

What Sheep Need

Shelter / Fresh Water

Depending on your climate, you will either need a three-sided "run-in" shed or an enclosed barn/shed with adequate ventilation. Sheep are subject to pneumonia when kept in an enclosed structure due to inhaling ammonia from urine.

Outside, your sheep need access to shade year round. This can be in the form of trees, run-in sheds or metal carport coverings. You'll also need to make sure the flock has access to clean, fresh water.

Predator Protection

There are several schools of thought regarding predator protection. Llamas can be fierce but they are prey animals. Donkeys can be indifferent to predators, while some can be wonderful. Having had llamas, we definitely prefer dogs. When challenged they DO NOT give up, nor do they become passive about "invaders" in their pasture.

We often refer people to Bluebonnet Animal Rescue in Whitewright, TX for adult, proven Livestock Guardian Dogs. Puppies are about a three year training period that requires consistency and time. We don't recommend puppies - even with an adult.

Give a deserving, well-skilled dog a job to do, adopt.

Nutrition

Sheep love natural grasses and hay. When choosing hay, select any local "horse quality". They DO NOT need fancy hay like alfalfa. In fact, alfalfa can cause urinary calculi in males - a potentially fatal disease.

Before bringing your lambs home, be sure to check the web for local plants that may be toxic to your sheep. You never know what they will choose to eat. The same goes for any ornamental plants you may have put in any area where they will be allowed to graze.

Routine Health Care

Your lambs will go home with all necessary innoculations for one year. After that all they need is a CDT shot once a year.

You should learn how to check your lamb's inner eyelids for paleness which may indicate they need to be dewormed, They should be checked every three months. If you aren't sure of what the inner eyelids are telling you, take some poo pellets to the vet and have a professional fecal exam done. They can advise you on what to give them if they do have worms.

A skilled livestock vet is your most valuable resource. In the first couple of years, you can learn a lot and take over the most routine aspects of your sheep's care.

Wool / Hoof Care

Harlequins need to be shorn at least once a year, usually in the Spring. You can try your hand at it, but it's not easy, and it takes time, practice and patience. 

We use a professional shearer who can get one shorn about every 8 minutes. Well worth the money! You can do a search online for sheep shearers, or ask fellow local farmers. You can also check with your high school's Ag teachers, leaders of 4H and FFA clubs. Hooves need to be inspected every 3-4 months and trimmed as appropriate. There are many good videos on YouTube that show you how. Even the goat hoof trimming videos will teach you what you need.

Lambing

You will probably want to wait until your ewe lambs are over a year old to breed. This ensures they are full grown and well developed.

Harlequins are able to breed twice a year, unlike most breeds. Mature moms often have twins, and triplets are also possible. Mothering instincts are very strong and even when she has multiples, a Harlequin ewe will usually care for all of them without help. Giving birth is usually very easy for Harlequin and is most often unassisted.