How to Care for Hair Sheep

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Hair sheep are sheep with a greater proportion of hair than wool fibers. This means they do not need shearing, a fact which contributes to the attraction of these sheep. With the high cost involved in shearing wool and the growing lack of skilled labor to carry out shearing, maintaining wool sheep is more difficult as compared to hair sheep. Caring for hair sheep is relatively simpler and involves monitoring the amount of feed consumed and carrying out de-worming on a regular basis.

  • Use the right type of feed to allow hair sheep to grow a frame before they become fat. These sheep have a fattening pattern that is from the inside out. Therefore, feeding them like conventional woolly sheep will cause excess internal fat that can lead to problems during birthing. Use feed that contains greater amount of fiber. Avoid self feeding and resort to hand feeding, since this will limit the amount of ration consumed. Alternatively, allow hair sheep to consume pasture, since this will naturally prevent them from fattening too much, too soon.

  • Shear the excess wool fibers if your hair sheep have a thicker woolly coat. For hair sheep with more hair fibers than wool, shedding will occur naturally. Provide a post-like structure for sheep to rub against during the shedding process. Check if there are loose patches of wool on the sheep's body and pull them off. Remember that shedding varies across breeds, so your sheep may take longer to shed as compared to your friend's breeds.

  • Watch out for signs of milk goiter, a common feature in hair sheep. This is a swelling of the thymus gland which is normally seen during maturation of the young animals' immune system. Consult your veterinarian to confirm if the swelling is milk goiter or an abnormal goiter of the thyroid gland. Follow her instructions while dealing with the condition.

  • Conduct regular de-worming of your hair sheep. Although certain hair sheep breeds are highly resistant to parasitic infestation, there can be cases when your breeds pick up a worm infection. This is especially true in cases where sheep are fed on pastures rather than feed. Use de-worming medication in consultation with the vet.

  • Avoid crutching or docking hair sheep. Since they do not have thick wool coats like wool sheep, this is not a necessity. Consider the requirements of the customer buying your sheep, though. Some people prefer docked lambs, whereas others don't want animals that have been blemished in any manner.

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