Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep

Feeding the sheep

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We walked on to see the sheep this morning to make sure everyone was nice and settled after the move. They were all fine. It was a gorgeously cold crisp morning and it was lovely to be out. It did me the world of good particularly as I got up with stress levels through the roof for some reason. I got back much calmer and settled and actually got some work done.

I’ve been meaning to write about feeding our sheep for a while and I have mentioned bits and pieces in previous blogs. Anyway, here’s some more of the detail. We feed them more than we need to really, certainly more frequently. Basically from autumn through to after lambing we feed daily. We increase the amount as the grass disappears and the weather gets nastier and/or as the ewes progress in their pregnancies. During the summer we don’t feed every day but still frequently – mainly to keep the sheep relatively tame.

We feed three different types of feed: Mixed flake, stock/ewe nuts and stock ration and they all get a mixture of the three. Mixed flake contains maize, peas and barley and looks like cornflakes. Stock nuts are made from barley, wheat, oats, rice, peas,  lentils, beans, soyabean,sunflower and also contain veggie oil and various minerals. They are quite good for having in your pocket to  feed the tame ones with. However, they make an awful mess if they get wet in your pocket or if you forget to zip your pocket and they all fall out in the car as you get in. The ration is the one that looks and smells most interesting (to me, I don’t think the sheep care). To be honest I am not quite sure what is in it. The info on website suggests it’s a mix of processed and unprocessed stuff and the one we get is definitly a bit sticky from some kind of syrupy stuff.

Field on a snowy morning

The first winter we had the sheep we barely fed any hay – they didn’t seem to need or want it. I think we got a couple of bales as a treat. Last winter there was definitly more interest and we also realised it made sense to feed hay which keeps them busy for a while rather than massively increase the other feed which can make them a bit fat. It’s all a balance I guess and it’s about watching the flock and figuring it out. I am sure there is also a very scientific way of working out exactly how much the sheep should be fed but as you can see from the little video below – it’s not just sheep we’re feeding. And once this lot is done there are also several robins and blackbirds in the queue


Author: Jess Guth

Dr Jess Guth is a Senior Lecturer in Law. She blogs at jessguth.com She also doesn't really run - reallynotarunner.com

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