How Do I Build Muscle in Sheep?

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Healthy sheep have good fat-to-muscle ratios.
Healthy sheep have good fat-to-muscle ratios. (Image: sheeps queue on sheep-run image by Piotr Rydzkowski from Fotolia.com)

Building muscle in sheep is important when it comes to showing them and should be started when they are lambs. According to R. Kipp Brown with the University of Mississippi Extension Service, when a lamb's body weight reaches 100 pounds, it is time to start working it out and encouraging muscle growth. A fit sheep should be a healthy sheep, and a healthy sheep should be a happy sheep.

Things You'll Need

  • Hurdles
  • Chariot
  • All-terrain vehicle
  • Step
  • Feed and water

Start small. Walking your lamb daily while it builds condition is a great way to get started with your exercise program.

Increase the difficulty of exercise once the lamb is able to handle it. Build small hurdles no higher than the lamb's chest between the lamb's lounging area and its feed and water, so it must jump them to eat and drink.

Teach the lamb to pull a sheep chariot. This is great exercise for the lamb.

Run the lamb. Some use herding dogs for this; others use small motorized vehicles. Run the lamb hard for a short period, then rest it and repeat. This type of sprinting exercise releases adrenaline which in turn builds hard muscle.

Build a step on which the lamb must place its forelegs to eat. This stretches the loin and hind leg muscles.

Add in isometrics. According to Scott Stebner of Stebner Club Lambs, the musculature of a sheep is similar to that of a human, so human exercises also tend to benefit sheep. Isometrics are used by body-builders to build muscle mass, and focus on putting prolonged strain on a muscle or muscle group without changing its shape. The torn muscle fibers repair themselves by increasing in number. This can be applied to sheep by having your lamb stand on a 40 percent grade with his head at the top. Press its head with your hand, preventing it from completing the climb, causing it to hold its position and likewise pushing against you. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and do up to 10 sets with rest in between.

Tips & Warnings

  • Feed your lamb a quality diet of 16 to 18 percent protein while building muscle according to the Northern View Sheep Ranch. Reduce this to 11 to 12 percent protein when finishing the sheep, that is, when it reaches 110 to 140 pounds.
  • Muscle is 70 percent water. Provide unlimited access to fresh water.
  • Do not over-exercise your lamb. This will have the opposite of the desired effect, causing the breakdown of muscle tissue and making the lamb unable to recover.

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