3 Dietary Needs For Your Sheep

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Over 5 million sheep are being raised throughout the United States. Compared to other livestock, the sheep industry in the U.S. is rather small. There were about 80,000 ranches and farms throughout the country in 2013. The American Sheep Industry is attempting to change this by working to grow the number of operations in the country.

These dual purpose animals produce meat and wool. Some farmers also use sheep for milk. Although sheep serve many purposes, making a profit can be a difficult task. If you are willing to put in the effort, raising these animals can be an exciting venture. Just be sure to think about the following three dietary needs for your sheep.


One aspect of a sheep’s diet is forb, a broad leaf plant other than grass. Forb is a great food for animals in pasture, as it is extremely nutritious. The animals also need to graze for seven hours a day, mostly during dawn and around sunset. It is important to keep in mind that wherever the sheep are being raised, they will eat plants available in the area.

Healthy pasture

Because the animals are designed for grazing, there should be plenty of room for them to roam. A healthy pasture is a low input component of your ranch that can help to greatly increase profits. A pasture can include a number of grasses, brush, legumes and trees. The carrying capacity of your land will depend on a number of factors such as soil, precipitation and plant species. A general rule should be four sheep per one acre of quality pasture.

Stored or harvested feeds

Sheep will need to eat stored or harvested feeds when fresh forage is not available. These stored foods include silage, hay and crop byproducts. Pregnant and nursing sheep need additional nutrition such as grain infused with soybean meal or cottonseed meal for added protein.

It is important to understand the money, time and work it will take to raise sheep. There are a lot of great reasons to begin the journey, just make sure you understand the full responsibility and care it will take. If you prepare well enough, raising these animals can be an enjoyable, rewarding task.

If you would like to learn more about hay and feed for your livestock, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas. Call us today at (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email for more information. We aim to help farmers with abundant hay serve other farmers in need across the United States. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!