Interesting Article from the Jail Horticulture Program - Intro to the Jail Herd
09-Oct-2017, Written by SO Media Unit
An introduction to the Jail Herd
As you may have seen we have a few new additions to our family out at the pond. In conjunction with our friends at Wheeler Farm we have acquired a small herd of sheep. The purpose of these sheep will be to control weeds and provide entertainment for the employees of the Jail and SOB while enjoying the natural beauty of the pond and gardens.
Those don’t look like sheep to me……….
The breed of sheep that we have at the pond is known as Hair sheep. Unlike wool sheep, Hair sheep have coats consisting predominantly of hair fibers as opposed to wool fibers. True hair breeds are more resistant to internal parasites than wool breeds, and they require no shearing. They are adapted to warmer, more humid regions, are prolific and are known for lambing ease and mothering ability. Hair sheep are on average smaller than their Wool counterparts. A full grown female (ewe) will reach a size of about 100-140 lbs. and a full grown male (Ram) will reach a size of 125-200 lbs.
Food and Water
Forages can supply up to 90 percent of the total feed in a sheep operation. At the Pond, we have an abundance of forages (weeds) for the sheep to feed on. Ewes require approximately 0.3 ton of hay and 0.5 ton of pasture dry matter per head annually. To assure that our sheep are getting adequate nutrition we will supplement their diet with nutrient dense alfalfa that we source from a local farm. The exact amount of clean, fresh water required by sheep varies depending on ambient temperature or season of the year, stage of production (for example, gestation, lactation, growth, and maintenance), size of the animal, and the amount and type of feed consumed. Water should be maintained above 35°F in winter and below 55°F in summer.
Facilities and Equipment
Our operation consists of housing the sheep during the spring, summer, and fall with the lambs being shipped to Wheeler Farm during the harsh winter months. This allows us to modify our structures to protect against sun and heat rather than the cold. Given this our sheep need minimal shelter as they prefer to be out in the sun grazing. On the east side of the property we have a shelter with a surrounding corral where the sheep will spend their nights. During the day the sheep will be moved to a mobile corral where they will work on weeding until evening when they will be moved back to their permanent corral.
We at the Jail Horticulture Program are excited to share this experience with you and would love to see you out there. Our horticulturists are very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you may have.
Jail Horticulture Program
Aaron, Debra K. and Ely, Donald G., "An Introduction to Sheep" (2014). Agriculture and Natural Resources Publications. 151. http://uknowledge.uky.edu/anr_reports/151
Sheep fun Facts
• Sheep were domesticated approximately 10,000 years ago in Central Asia.
• Raising sheep is the oldest organized industry in the world.
• There are over 1 billion sheep in the world.
• China has more sheep than any other country in the world.
• There are approximately 5 million sheep in the United States.
• The top ten U.S. sheep states are: Texas, California, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Iowa.
• There are over 50 breeds of sheep in the U.S. and as many as 900 different breeds around the world.
• Adult female sheep are known as ewes.
• Adult intact male sheep are called rams or bucks.
• Male sheep castrated before puberty are known as wethers.
• Sheep less than a year old are called lambs.
• The act of parturition (giving birth) is called lambing.
• A group of sheep is called a flock.
• Ewes of many breeds are seasonal breeders, which means they successfully mate only during certain times of the year.
• Sheep have a field of vision of almost 360 degrees, which allows them to see behind themselves without having to turn their heads.
• Sheep are ruminants, like cattle and goats, meaning they have four compartments to their stomach and they chew their cud. They are often referred to as small ruminants because of their size.
• Sheep are gregarious, which means they like to stay close to others in a flock. This behavior makes them easier to move together as a group.
• Sheep prefer to walk into the wind and uphill rather than downhill and with the wind.