Sheep breeding methods

Choosing the right breed of sheep Before starting the sheep breeding project

It is preferable to choose the right breed of sheep by knowing the reason for raising them or their purpose, either for meat, wool, or milk and cheese. The region and examples of the most common sheep breeds are as follows:

 Sheep has dual purposes for meat and wool, such as Corridal Corriedale. Larger species have abundant meat and shiny wool. Correct Dorset, of medium size, has white and dense wool. Polybay (In English: Polypay) are lambs that produce frequently and grow rapidly. Meat sheep only, such as Hampshire (English: Hampshire), one of the largest breeds. Katahdin (English: Katahdin), you need a very low expense. Suffolk (English: Suffolk) is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Dairy sheep, such as East Friesian (English: East Friesian), a good dairy producer, are difficult to raise. To be (English: Lacaune) a good cheese producer. Al-Awassi or Al-Nuaimi (English: Awassi), an easily bred breed, has shaggy wool.

 Sheep education and breeding methods

Sheep, females (ewes), and males (rams) go through many stages before and during breeding, so each stage requires a set of sound procedures set at a specific time to ensure high productivity and excellent quality, and these stages are as follows:

 Determining the age of puberty 

The age of puberty for sheep (in English: Age of Maturity) depends on the breed and location. The age of puberty for sheep ranges between one and a half to 3 years, and ewes aged between one and a half to two years are used for mating, while it is preferable to wait from the age of two and a half years until seven years old to use rams for mating.

 Determine the mating and estrus period

Sheep are considered a multi-seasonal animal. That is, they go through several cycles of estrus during a particular season of the year, and the season depends on the location in which they live, where the sheep that live in the plains of India, for example, are ready to mate during the autumn, while the sheep are preparing They live in the mountains to mate during the summer.

 The estrous cycle is repeated in ewes every 14-20 days during the season (an average of 16 days), and the symptoms of the cycle last an average of 30 hours unless the ewe is pregnant or has a health condition. The most important symptoms of the cycle are the following:

Swelling of the external genital opening. 

  • Frequent urination
  • decreased appetite
  • Insomnia.

Preparing the sheep for mating

This is done by cutting the sheep’s wool, which hinders mating. The wool of ewes grows in the tail-root area in a way that hinders the mating process, so it is necessary to cut the wool in this area to facilitate mating.

 Increase forage and feeding 

Increasing the level of feeding the ewes before the mating season leads to an increase in the rate of ovulation and, thus, in the rate of pregnancy. The increase in the level of nutrition during the mating stage aims to help the fertilized egg adhere to the uterine wall, stabilizing the pregnancy and reducing the chances of fetal death. 

Increasing the level of food provided to ewes during the mating period to improve their condition is known as Flushing, which must be started two weeks before the mating season and continued between two to four weeks after mating. 

Food is paid to the ewes by letting them graze in the pastures or providing them with fresh grass or approximately 450 g of grain for each ewe, and the quality and quantity of the feed depends on the time of year. The availability of feed, the condition of the ewe, and the response of the ewes to this practice depend on the following:

 the age

Mature ewes show a greater response to feeding propulsion than young ewes. 


Prolific breeds respond less than other breeds. 

body condition

Skinny ewes respond to nutritional thrust more than ewes whose body condition is greater than average, and nutritional thrust is more beneficial for ewes whose body has not regained its health condition after being subjected to lactation pressure during the previous season.

breeding season phase

 The response is greatest early or late in the breeding season.

 Synchronization of the estrus period for sheep

It is intended to control the estrus cycle in a flock of ewes so that it occurs in all animals in a similar time, not exceeding two to three days, and this can be done by placing a suppository containing a synthetic hormone that prevents ovulation, the hormone Cronolone (in English: Cronolone) in the vagina of each ewe, After 15-17 days, the suppository is pulled out by tightening the thread attached to it.

It is noted that the ewes will enter the state of estrus within several days, and among the advantages of synchronizing the estrus period for the ewes are the following:

 The possibility of planning the birth of lambs to coincide with the good weather. 

Saving the cost of labor by limiting the need for it in a specific period. 

Possibility of planning to raise lambs according to market demand.

 Effectiveness of herd management when all ewes are in close gestation.

 Preparing the ram for mating

 This is done through the following: 

Full ram’s wool earring 

Sheep breeders recommend shaving the rams’ wool completely before the mating season or shearing the wool in the neck, abdomen, and genital area to facilitate the mating process.

Ram education 

Sheep breeders use a paste made of black or red paint mixed with flaxseed oil to paint the ram’s breast area once a week during the mating season to know which ewes the ram has mated with when part of the colored paste is transferred to the ewe during mating.

 Mating systems Among these systems are the following: herd system Owners of commercial sheep herds prefer to use the herd system (English: Flock System) in mating, and this system is to leave one ram to mate with 35-40 ewes and a maximum of 50 ewes, provided that mating takes place with one ewe during the day and another ewe at night, and so on throughout the season mating.

Mating systems Among these systems are the following:

Herd system Owners of commercial sheep herds prefer to use the herd system (English: Flock System) in mating, and this system is to leave one ram to mate with 35-40 ewes and a maximum of 50 ewes, provided that mating takes place with one ewe during the day and another ewe at night, and so on throughout the season mating.

 Cage system The cage system for mating (English: Pen System) is the most common in sheep farms and depends on the introduction of a carefully selected ram into a cage or barn containing a certain number of selected ewes after returning from the pasture, leaving it with them throughout the night, and taking it out in the morning, and in This system separates the ewes from the rams while they are in the pasture. 

Hand selection Sheep breeders prefer to allow a sheep in a state of estrus to mate with a specific male within two days to avoid inbreeding, to know the expected time of conception, and to determine the characteristics of the lambs born. 

This system is known as the Hand Service system.

 To find out which ewes are in the estrus stage, the teaser ram is used, a castrated ram that is unable to mate but is used to find out which ewes will approach it for mating, which indicates that it is in a state of estrus.

Artificial Vaccination Artificial Insemination occurs by injecting 0.2 ml of fresh semen, which contains no less than 120-150 million sperms, into the ewe’s cervix using a catheter equipped with a spiral-shaped vaporizer, and this method is more difficult in sheep than in cows. Because of the low dilution of the semen of rams and the difficulty of preserving it. 

Sheep feeding

Sheep are fodder lovers, and they can get their food from pastures and hay, as they eat useful herbs and bypass most weeds. They must be provided with fodder at certain times with grains or other concentrated feeds that meet nutritional needs, especially for ewes in the stages of lactation and pregnancy. Most dairy foods are nutritious for lactating ewes. 

 The University of Minnesota recommends feeding sheep a good complementary grain mixture of 22.6 kg of hulled corn, 9 kg of oats, 9 kg of wheat bran, and 4.5 kg of flaxseed, as they require more protein than other grazing animals. 

 Since pasture grasses lack enough protein, grain supplements provide the nutrients necessary for their growth, which may contain the necessary vitamins and mineral components. Since sheep need salt to prevent bloating, it can be served as granules without lumps. 

Create a sheepfold Facilities for sheep should be designed according to the size of the flock and the climate, taking into account the occurrence of pregnancy during the year and leaving space in the barn to store fodder and supplies for sheep. A place should be allocated to shelter sick or newly born animals. 

Taking care of sheep’s health The health of sheep must be taken care of to prevent the spread of diseases in them, and this can be done through an expert veterinarian’s assistance before raising sheep. 

In addition, a healthy diet must be provided to ensure the health of the sheep. 

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