3 Things You Need To about Owning a Sheep Herd
Just like humans, the most important thing for your herd’s survival is food. If you have thick, lush grass growing around in your pasture then your herd’s needs are almost covered.
The key word here is “almost”, large Animals like sheep lack access to green pastures in countries like the UAE. That’s why herds mainly depend on two types of food in this region:
- Hay Supplementation
- Concentrated feed mixes
Most of you have probably seen what a hay stack looks like and may have thought that this is the only thing that sheep eat. Well, you’re half way from the truth. Although hay is essentially the most important food item for large animals, it is not enough to support all the protein, vitamin and mineral needs that are essential for your animal’s overall health.
For this reason, concentrated feed mixes are given to sheep and other large animals to develop the muscles more quickly and provide a bigger mass yield. Also, most reputable feed plants provide feed mixes that contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for your animal’s health. We strongly advise you to ask your feed provider about this point.
A common feeding ratio between sheep owners is 80/20, split between hay supplementation and concentrated feed mixes. Small lambs need about 1.5 kg of feed per day. As the lambs get bigger, so does their appetite, bigger lambs can be fed up to 3-4 kg per day. If you are feeding both hay supplementation & concentrated feed, then the 80/20 ratio remains the same for bigger and smaller lambs as well. For example, if the lamb needs 5 kg of feed per day, then 4 kg may be given as Alfalfa hay and 1kg as concentrated feed.
The downside of this process is it is a lot more expensive to maintain a healthy herd without depending on natural vegetation grown in free pastures.
Due to this reason, the Abu Dhabi government has subsidized the livestock feed market in the UAE for many years. The subsidy program went through many changes. However, if you have a registered farm in Abu Dhabi, then you are most likely eligible to be covered under the ‘Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority’ (ADAFSA) subsidy program. However, the industry experts think that this subsidy program will ultimately end since similar programs have been ended for other formerly subsidized food items like wheat.
Herds need constant access to fresh water. There are several points you need to watch out for here; not only the water quality is important, the way you deliver and store the water, be it in a container or other means, is also important. There as special water hoses you can purchase to keep the water fresh as you deliver it to the container. Normal garden hoses are not designed for that purpose as they contain a lot of plastics and heavy mental contaminants that are detrimental for your herd’s health.
Although it may seem counter intuitive to provide shelter for animals that are designed, by god, to live in nature under the sun. However, believe it or not, sheep prefer to stay under a shelter shall the option be provided to them.
This is true for both hot and cold environments. In hot weather, herds like to shelter from the sun, whereas, in cold weather herds shelter from high wind or rains.
There is no specific method for providing shelter for your herd. UAE Locals have come up with very creative and humane ways to care for their animals and protect them from the heat by providing humidifying spray fans for the hot summer days.
Dubai Animal Mart caters feed mixes to suit the needs of the herd and to make it easier for animal owners to sustain the health of their herd. Most feed mixes mainly contain of all natural and organic ingredients like wheat barn, rice husk, mineral salts, and molasses. All of which are necessary for the growth and health of animals.