do they need shelter?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Sarah J, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    639
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2003
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    OKay - my sheep are all in their own pasture now with a great big water bucket and lot sof space. There is a long line of good shade trees, too, fully leafed out and ready to protect.

    Question: do I still need a shelter of some sort? We'll only have them out there for the 4 or 5 months until snow this fall... The trees are very shady and there's lots of room - and a building to their east for protectin, I suppose.

    But do I need to add a three-sided shed or will they be okay in the rain/thunderstorms that happen each spring/summer? I'm concerned because we are going away for over a week and a neighbor is caring for the animals while we're gone - I didn't want to worry him if they'll be okay out there on their own.

    -Sarah
     
  2. Dee Dunn

    Dee Dunn Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia
    Depending on how many you have, a shed is usually appreciated. Lightening to trees has been known to kill livestock sheltering underneath the trees. And I have never seen a healthy sheep lying in the driving rain if a shed is available, so clearly they'd rather not be soggy.

    And depending on where your line of trees are, there may not be shade available all day. Don't know where you are located, but in Virginia, they need shade in the morning through to sunset.
     

  3. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Indiana
    A shelter would be best, ask yourself if you would like to be stuck out in a thunderstorm/lightening/wind/rain and just have to be soaked. Be sure they have clean water, and granulated salt free choice, or they won't drink enough water even in hot weather.
    :no: The other concern is that going away and leaving a flock of sheep for a week is a pretty good recipe for disaster. We have raised sheep for years, and DH and the kids look forward to vacation week AWAY from here (I'd rather stay home), but even if a neighbor looks in on them once a day, they are vulnerable to so many things. Example: we left to go on vacation for a week, the neighbor boy was to feed and water them each day morning and night, but we still lost 2 to coyotes one night. Even though he borrowed the other neighbor's donkeys to stay with the sheep (brilliant strategy on his part) the next night the coyotes were back and we lost more sheep. A neighbor who doesn't raise sheep, and even novice shepherds like yourself, cannot anticipate all the ways sheep can find to get themselves killed. :no: Sunstroke, worms + heat, dogs, coyotes, getting caught in fence, etc. One thing we have learned is you have to keep a close eye on them all the time - they can get sick or injured, especially in summer, and look a little off one day, and by the next day or two can be past the point of no return.
    Not to discourage you from taking off, but livestock raising is a job that requires daily caring for the animals that depend on you. If you have a way to leave them where someone who knows sheep can take care of them, it might mean more peace of mind and less chance of losses. Just yesterday I had to help hubby free a ram lamb who had somehow managed to get himself tangled up, completely upside down, in the fence. He would have died if we hadn't seen him and got him loose. We also had a neighbor watching the place another vacation week (I really hate vacations) only to come back to find our beautiful GP puppy was very ill, and had been for days, getting worse as time went on. The well-meaning but inexperienced neighbor thought the pup was depressed because it missed us, and didn't realize it was sick. It was not his fault, but the pup ended up dying. I do not look forward to this summer's annual vacation week. Wish I could pack up all the livestock and take them along, at least then I wouldn't worry. But the chances of finding an understanding motel which allows flocks of sheep, goats, chickens, and assorted dogs and cats are rather slim.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,084
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    My sheep prefer to be dry too, but I wouldn't say they absolutely need shelter in the warmer season. The lightening and preditor problem are good points besides rain! Still the drier they are the healthier they stay.
     
  5. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    594
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    I have seem how "dumb" sheep can be with our lamb, he will go off the graze all alone, far away from the goats who would warn him of danger, and he will walk into the "going to get squished" side of a moving tire.

    I think they should be checked several times a day and locked up at night, if you don't have a gardian to live with them.
     
  6. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    639
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2003
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    They will be checked twice a day by a reliable adult. Predators aren't a problem here so that isn't a concern. I just wasn't sure if they had to have the shelter. The treeline provides shade all day long - we've watched it carefully over the last five years...another reason we chose that area for the fence. It also provides shelter, but it was the lightening I wasn't sure about...

    But the only shelter I have is where the calf is and I got some pretty definite, "you dont' want to put them in with the calf" messages...so I guess I'm confused now...

    -Sarah
     
  7. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    851
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
    Ditto

     
  8. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    594
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    Then with your situation, I am thinking a simple painted plywood roof on legs would work. If you have high winds a t-post driven in deep and fastened at two of the corners would hold it down.
     
  9. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,084
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    There are a few reasons not to put the calf and sheep together. From a health point of view they're likely already too close but calves can be a bit pushy/playful and hurt the ewes too. I don't think you have a huge shelter problem but if you have a trailer they'll all fit in or a haywagon they can get under they'll likley probably use it.