As sheep (along with dogs) were among the first animals to be domesticated by human beings, it stands to reason that we have collectively accumulated a vast amount of information about raising and caring for these animals. For centuries this knowledge has been added to and passed down orally, from generation to generation. Then, with the advent of the printing press and the scientific method, our knowledge about the raising of sheep was able to be refined and preserved.
Like all ancient crafts, the raising and breeding of sheep is best learned by doing, in a hands-on manner, overseen by an experienced mentor. It does not lend itself well to pure book-learning by itself. And of the many different aspects of raising sheep, surely one of the most fraught and ticklish is the matter of lambing. Lambing, of course, is the act of a ewe (female sheep) giving birth to a baby lamb. A successful lambing season demands deep biological knowledge, familiarity with the personality of the ewe, the patience of a saint, and nerves of steel. Even then, so much can go wrong.
In that event, the sheep farmer—even the most seasoned—may find him/herself at the limit of their knowledge. If a trusted vet is not immediately available to assess the problem, it is up to the sheep farmer to solve it. The books listed below may be of assistance and should be ever-present in the sheep farmer’s barnyard library.
By Paula Simmons and Carol Ekarius
Paperback: 368 pages
For both farmers and backyard homesteaders, Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep remains the most comprehensive and trusted guide to success with sheep, no matter the size of the flock. Whether you are raising sheep for wool, milk, or meat, you will find here detailed instructions and illustrations that lead readers through every essential procedure, including shearing, building a lambing shed, breeding and lambing, butchering, and marketing.
By Agnes Winter and Cicely H. Hill
Hardcover: 96 pages
Whether it’s your first or your thirty-first season, lambing can be a challenging time in the sheep keeper’s life. This short but practical and authoritative manual is probably the best book for lambing you can find. It guides the reader through the periods leading up to, during, and after lambing; and gives invaluable advice on how to deal with a range of problems, including normal births and malpresentations, the sick in-lamb ewe, abortion, pre- and post-lambing prolapses, the health of the newborn lamb, and potential emergencies in the first few days. One of the authors, Agnes Winter, is a well-known sheep vet as well as a lecturer at the University of Liverpool Veterinary School. The other author, Cicely Hill, has decades of sheep-keeping experience with flocks on a frequent lambing system.
By Neil Sargison, James Patrick Crilly, and Andrew Hopker
Paperback: 168 pages
Written for an audience of small ruminant farmers and smallholders around the world, as well as vets and agricultural students, this edition of Practical Lambing and Lamb Care offers a complete update to this comprehensive resource touching on all aspects of lambing and lamb care. This new edition incorporates new developments in the field and addresses the rapidly evolving needs of global small ruminant production. The authors, who are noted experts in their field, provide an authoritative description of a professional approach to lambing and kidding, along with care of newborn animals, with an emphasis on husbandry and management to reduce the need for intervention during the periparturient period.
By Agnes Winter and Judith Charnley
Hardcover: 208 pages
This comprehensive book covers a range of useful topics, including:
- How to acquire a healthy flock
- Procedures for performing routine procedures to keep your sheep healthy
- Common ailments and how to treat them
- Recognizing and identifying problems
- Knowing when to consult your vet
Written by two qualified veterinary surgeons—each with extensive experience in running their own flocks—this book can be equally useful to all sheep keepers, from amateurs with small flocks to experienced shepherds with large pedigree flocks.
By Liz Shankland
Hardcover: 192 pages
This book is for you if you are new to keeping sheep and are thinking of growing your flock. The Sheep Manual is an easy-to-read, up-to-date quick-reference guide designed to help you choose the right breed for your land, provide essential health and welfare information, and guide you through your first breeding and lambing season.
As your flock grows, keeping track of your sheep becomes ever more important. Please see our website for a comprehensive line of livestock identification products and accessories!