Sheep – environment

Housing requirements for sheep.

Fences, gateways, gates and all facilities used to secure sheep must be constructed and maintained to reduce the risk of injury and attack by predators.

Sheep may be housed or kept in intensive conditions provided the following conditions are met:

  • Each pen must be designed to hold no more than four sheep and must provide an area of at least 2.25 square metres per sheep
  • The diet composition and quantities of feed must be recorded
  • Slatted floors are preferable but if flooring is concrete it must be covered by an appropriate depth of bedding material to avoid feet and leg problems
  • Feed bins must be off the floor and cleaned regularly
  • Faeces and urine accumulations must be removed daily if floors are not slatted
  • Normal diurnal pattern of lighting must be provided
  • Opportunities for appropriate exercise must be provided
  • Air must be of acceptable quality with respect to dust, chemicals and smells
  • All sheep must be observed standing and moving during daily inspections.

Sheep are grazing animals that require exercise, light and fresh air for optimum health. It is preferable that sheep are kept in paddocks, however for short periods of time it is acceptable that sheep are kept in smaller yards, pens and at times indoors. This more intensive housing may be for feeding of a particular ration, during showing and show preparation, for security reasons or for convalescence. When outside in the paddock sheep also require shelter from wind, sun and rain.

Image: Sheep are grazing animals that require exercise, light and fresh air for optimum health.

Fencing should be well maintained and provide protection from predators particularly during lambing periods. Newborn lambs and freshly shorn sheep are especially susceptible to cold, wet weather conditions. When sheep are housed inside on slatted floors care must be taken to ensure cold drafts do not come through floorboards. Shelter is essential to protect sheep from the sun, cold, wind and rain particularly for newborn lambs and sheep off shears. Shelter can be provided through trees, windbreaks and purpose built sheds that the sheep can freely access.

Image: Shelter can be provided by trees, windbreaks and purpose built shelters.

Where sheep are kept in pens, pens must be cleaned daily and have a good source of ventilation. When sheep are kept housed for long periods of time, slatted floors are preferable to manage flystrike, provide ventilation and allow easy cleaning. Watering systems must be cleaned regularly and checked daily.

Tethering is not acceptable as a routine husbandry practice. Where animals are tied to restrain them at shows, they must be accustomed to the practice and be given adequate exercise each day.

Hypothermia in sheep


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