Sheep farming

Sheep farming is the raising and breeding of domestic sheep. It is a branch of animal husbandry. Sheep are raised principally for their meat (lamb and mutton), milk (sheep's milk), and fiber (wool). They also yield sheepskin and parchment.

Sheep can be raised in range of temperate climates, including arid zones. Farmers build fences, housing, shearing sheds and other facilities on their property, such as for water, feed, transport and pest control. Most farms are managed so sheep can graze pastures, sometimes under the control of a shepherd or sheep dog.

The major sources of income for a farm come from the sale of lambs and the shearing of sheep for their wool. Farmers can select from various breeds suitable for their region and market conditions. When the farmer sees that a ewe (female adult) is showing signs of heat or estrus, they can organise for mating with males. Newborn lambs are typically subjected to tail docking, mulesing, and males may be castrated.[1]

Shepherd in the Taurus Mountains
Flock of sheep moving through Cologne, Germany, early on a holiday morning

Sheep production worldwide

Sheep farming in Namibia (2017)
Sheep farming in Namibia (2017)

According to the FAOSTAT database of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the top five countries by number of heads of sheep (average from 1993 to 2013) were: mainland China (146.5 million heads), Australia (101.1 million), India (62.1 million), Iran (51.7 million), and the former Sudan (46.2 million).[2]

In 2013, the five countries with the largest number of heads of sheep were mainland China (175 million), Australia (75.5 million), India (53.8 million), the former Sudan (52.5 million), and Iran (50.2 million). In 2018 Mongolia has 30.2 million sheep. In 2013, the number of heads of sheep were distributed as follows: 44% in Asia, 28.2% in Africa; 11.2% in Europe, 9.1% in Oceania, 7.4% in the Americas.

The top producers of sheep meat (average from 1993 to 2013) were as follows: mainland China (1.6 million); Australia (618,000), New Zealand (519,000), the United Kingdom (335,000), and Turkey (288,857).[2] The top five producers of sheep meat in 2013 were mainland China (2 million), Australia (660,000), New Zealand (450,000), the former Sudan (325,000), and Turkey (295,000).[2]

U.S. sheep production

In the United States, inventory data on sheep began in 1867, when 45 million head of sheep were counted in the United States.[3] The numbers of sheep peaked in 1884 at 51 million head, and then declined over time to almost 6 million head.[3]

Since the 1960s, per capita consumption of lamb and mutton declined from nearly 5 pounds to just about 1 pound, due to competition from poultry, pork, beef, and other meats.[3] Since the 1990s, U.S. sheep operations declined from around 105,000 to around 80,000 due to shrinking revenues and low rates of return.[3] According to the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, the "sheep industry accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. livestock industry receipts."[3]

See also

Branding sheep after shearing
Patrick McCafferty
A shepherd tends his flock in Northern California.
Sheep club2
A World War I-era poster sponsored by the USDA encouraging children to raise sheep to provide needed war supplies.


  1. ^ A Beginner's Guide to Raising Sheep Sheep: A Beginner's Guide to Raising Sheep.
  2. ^ a b c FAOSTAT database.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sheep, Lamb & Mutton: Background, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service (last updated May 26, 2012).

Further reading

  • Carlson, Alvar Ward. "New Mexico's Sheep Industry: 1850–1900, Its Role in the History of the Territory." New Mexico Historical Review 44.1 (1969).
  • Dick, Everett. Vanguards of the Frontier: A Social History of the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains from the Fur Traders to the Sod Busters (1941) pp 497–508; 1880s–1920s
  • Fraser, Allan H. H. "Economic aspects of the Scottish sheep industry." Transactions of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 51 (1939): 39–57.
  • Hawkesworth, Alfred. "Australasian sheep & wool.": a practical and theoretical treatise ( W. Brooks & co., ltd., 1900).
  • Jones, Keithly G. "Trends in the US sheep industry" (USDA Economic Research Service, 2004).
  • Minto, John. "Sheep Husbandry in Oregon. The Pioneer Era of Domestic Sheep Husbandry." The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society (1902): 219–247. in JSTOR
  • Perkins, John. "Up the Trail From Dixie: Animosity Toward Sheep in the Culture of the US West." Australasian Journal of American Studies (1992): 1–18. in JSTOR
  • Witherell, William H. "A comparison of the determinants of wool production in the six leading producing countries: 1949–1965." American Journal of Agricultural Economics 51.1 (1969): 138–158.

External links


Agraharahalli is a village in the Indian state of Karnataka. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka. It is located in the Chintamani taluk of Chikkaballapura District in Karnataka.There is no bus facility to the village. Primary occupation of the villagers are agriculture and sheep farming.


Asnières-sur-Blour is a commune in the Vienne department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in western France.

Asnières-sur-Blour is located roughly halfway between the cities of Limoges and Poitiers.

The main source of employment is agriculture, mainly sheep farming.

A festival is held annually on August 15.

Burton Dassett

Burton Dassett is a parish and shrunken medieval village in Warwickshire. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 1,322. Much of the area is now the Burton Dassett Hills country park. It was enclosed for sheep farming by Sir Edward Belknap and John Heritage at the end of the 15th century.It was the home of Sir Thomas Temple as a child, and for several generations was regarded by the Temple family of Stowe, Buckinghamshire as their ancestral home.

There is a heraldic memorial to John Temple and his children in Burton Dassett church. Each of the twelve shields represents one of John Temple's children. The left half of each shield represents the husband and the right half represents the wife. The twelfth (undivided) shield represents Temple's son George who died young and therefore did not marry.

Susannah Smith, the wife of agriculturalist Jethro Tull was born in the village.

Cabra, County Down

Cabra is a large townland in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is in the parish of Clonduff and is situated approximately two miles from Hilltown, Rathfriland and Kilcoo. Cabra has a tradition of farming, with the three most common farming methods in Cabra being: sheep farming/breeding, crop growing (corn, barley etc.) and cow farming/breeding."Townland stones" have been erected to keep Cabra in touch with its local heritage. Cabra has one primary school, St.Pauls; which has around 65 children attending. Altogether Cabra has around 150 residents living within its boundaries, with a small post office, one church, and a community hall.

Camp (Falkland Islands)

The Camp is the term used in the Falkland Islands to refer to any part of the islands outside the islands' only significant town, Stanley, and often the large RAF base at Mount Pleasant. It is derived from the Spanish word campo, for "countryside".The Camp contains various small settlements, such as Fox Bay, Goose Green, Darwin, and Port Howard, which are usually little more than several houses. Port Louis in the north of East Falkland is the oldest permanent settlement in the islands, established by the French in 1764. Port Egmont on Saunders Island, now abandoned, is the oldest British settlement. The majority of the Camp population lives on East Falkland, followed by West Falkland. Outlying islands such as Pebble, Sea Lion, West Point, Weddell and Carcass Island are inhabited as well. Camp is used in formal contexts: e.g. the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly has Stanley and Camp constituencies.There are also some British military installations such as RAF Mount Pleasant, Mare Harbour, and Mount Alice, and there is also the Bodie Suspension Bridge, the southernmost of its kind in the world. Many parts are still landmined from the time of the Falklands War, particularly just outside Stanley.

Officially, the Falklands uses UTC-3 in the summer months (and since September 2010 has been on UTC-3 permanently) but many residents of Camp use UTC-4 all year round, known on the Falklands as "Camp Time". This caused confusion in 2009 when a team of Royal Engineers working in Hill Cove did not realise West Falkland was on a different time zone from Stanley.Sheep farming is the main industry. Others include fishing, and tourism (particularly wildlife or war-related tours). The Camp is represented by three members of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, currently Roger Edwards, Ian Hansen and Teslyn Barkman.

Coat of arms of the Falkland Islands

The coat of arms of the Falkland Islands was granted to the Falkland Islands on 29 September 1948. It consists of a shield containing a ram on tussock grass in the field with a sailing ship underneath and the motto of the Falklands (Desire the Right) below.

The ship represents the Desire, the vessel in which the English sea-captain John Davis is reputed to have discovered the Falkland Islands in 1592; the motto, Desire the Right, also refers to the ship's name. The ram represents sheep farming, which until recently was the principal economic activity of the islands, and the tussock grass shows the most notable native vegetation.


Colesberg is a town with 17,354 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, located on the main N1 road from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

In a sheep-farming area spread over half-a-million hectares, greater Colesberg breeds many of the country's top merinos. It is also renowned for producing high-quality racehorses and many stud farms, including one owned by renowned golfer, Gary Player, are nearby.

Davidson's Mains

Davidson's Mains is a former village which is now a district in the north west of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is adjacent to the districts of Barnton, Cramond, Silverknowes, Blackhall and Corbiehill/House O'Hill.

The district is named after Davidsons Mains, mains being a farm estate, linked to William Davidson, a wealthy merchant, who bought Muirhouse, east of the district, in 1776. Prior to the 19th century it was known as Muttonhole. The origin of this name is unknown, though it perhaps refers to the local sheep farming industry. "Mains" is a Lowland Scots term equivalent to the English home farm.

Within the district there is a variety of shops and businesses, ranging from cobblers to large supermarkets, as well as food outlets of various kinds. The district is also served by four churches, a Tesco, 2 veterinary surgery, a doctor's surgery, two dental surgeries, the Corbie and other takeaways, a primary school and a Greggs. The state secondary school that serves the area is the Royal High School. There is D'mains park near the High school which has a play park and a football pitch.

The district is currently served by two bus routes run by Lothian Buses: the 21 which travels to the Gyle Centre via Clermiston and to Leith in the other direction; and the 41 which travels from Cramond to Morningside.

Murray Mallee

The Murray Mallee is the grain-growing and sheep-farming area of South Australia bounded to the north and west by the Murray River, to the east by the Victorian border, and extending about 50 km south of the Mallee Highway.

The Murray Mallee area is predominantly a vast plain of low elevation, with sandhills and gentle undulating sandy rises, interspersed by flats. The annual rainfall ranges from approximately 250 mm in the north to 400 mm further south. The area was very lightly populated up until the beginning of the 20th century, with marginal pastoral runs of sheep at low stocking rates. Artesian water was discovered at moderate depth, and railways opened to make shipping of grain feasible. The first railway was the Pinnaroo line in 1906 from Tailem Bend on the main Melbourne–Adelaide railway. The success of this line led to construction further north of the Brown's Well railway line in 1913, and before that line had been completed, the government approved a number of spur lines from it. These included the Peebinga railway line into the land between the new line and the Pinnaroo line, extending the Brown's Well line north to Paringa, and spurs to Loxton and Waikerie. Another spur, the Moorook railway line opened in 1925. All of these have now closed due to the declining use of railways for grain transport in the area.

The main towns in the mallee are Karoonda, Lameroo and Pinnaroo. Towns along the Murray are generally considered to be in the Riverland or Murraylands, rather than the Mallee.

Originally the Mallee was covered in thick mallee scrub. Large expanses (estimates are around 80%) of the mallee were cleared for agricultural development, beginning as early as the 1880s. Most of the remaining natural vegetation is in protected areas such as Ngarkat Conservation Park, Billiatt Conservation Park, Karte Conservation Park, Peebinga Conservation Park, Bakara Conservation Park and Lowan Conservation Park.


Narsaq is a town in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. The name Narsaq is Kalaallisut for "Plain", referring to the shore of Tunulliarfik Fjord where the town is located.

Newdegate, Western Australia

Newdegate is a townsite in the Great Southern agricultural region, 399 km south-east of Perth and 52 km east of Lake Grace in Western Australia. The townsite was gazetted in 1925 and honours Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Western Australia from 1920 to 1924. The Department of Agriculture and Food operates one of its 13 research stations in the area of Newdegate.

Newdegate is situated in the heart of the south-eastern wheatbelt of Western Australia – about halfway between Perth in the west and Esperance in the south-east. It is a very successful grain and sheep farming area. Newdegate is central to the Western Mallee subregion of the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia. It is a sparsely populated subregion with an area of about 47,000 square kilometres (18,147 sq mi).

The local hall was opened in 1926 by Mr. B Carruthers from Lake Grace. A gold reef was found to the north east of town the same year.In 1932 the Wheat Pool of Western Australia announced that the town would have two grain elevators, each fitted with an engine, installed at the railway siding.The surrounding areas produce wheat and other cereal crops. The town is a primary site receival site for Cooperative Bulk Handling.

Patagonian sheep farming boom

In late 19th and early 20th centuries, sheep farming expanded across the Patagonian grasslands making the southern regions of Argentina and Chile one of the world's foremost sheep farming areas. The sheep farming boom attracted thousands of immigrants from Chiloé and Europe to southern Patagonia. Early sheep farming in Patagonia was oriented towards wool production but changed over time with the development of industrial refrigerators towards meat export. Besides altering the demographic and economic outlook of Southern Patagonia the sheep farming boom also changed the steppe ecosystem.Sheep farming in Patagonia was carried out in a estancia system. Each of these estancias was administered from a casco central (a central complex of buildings) where administrators, foremen and workers lived.Sociedad Explotadora de Magallanes possessed more than 200,000 sheep by 1901.

Sheep Farming in Barnet

Sheep Farming in Barnet is the debut studio album by the English new wave band Toyah, fronted by Toyah Willcox. It was originally released in 1979 as a 6-track extended EP, dubbed an 'Alternate Play' record (AP) by Safari Records, and was expanded into full-album status the following year. The album was later reissued on CD, cassette and white vinyl by Great Expectations in 1990 (As PIPCD 014), and again on CD by Safari themselves in 2002, digitally remastered and coupled with the band's second album, The Blue Meaning (1980).

The album was produced by Steve James and future band member Keith Hale and was released as an AP on 3 August 1979, with the album version following in February 1980. The album was originally compiled by the band's German record label, EMI Electrola, but the importation of the disc was so widespread, Safari decided to cash in and follow suit. The tracks added included several songs which did not make the original track listing and the début single "Victims of the Riddle" (originally released in July 1979), plus its B-side "Victims of the Riddle (Vivisection)".

The album's title refers to sheep being seen in a field in Finchley just off Regent's Park Road. According to John Craig of Safari, the cover featured Toyah at the RAF Fylingdales radar station near Whitby in Yorkshire, "a shoot achieved with considerable difficulty as, quite predictably, guards chased Toyah and the crew from the high-security site".Several tracks from the album became firm live favourites, and featured on two later live albums. Toyah Willcox still performs the tracks "Danced" and "Neon Womb" in her live sets.

Sheep farming in New Zealand

Sheep farming is a significant industry in New Zealand. According to 2007 figures reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, there are 39 million sheep in the country (a count of about 10 per individual). The country has the highest density of sheep per unit area in the world. For 130 years, sheep farming was the country's most important agricultural industry, but it was overtaken by dairy farming in 1987. Sheep numbers peaked in New Zealand in 1982 to 70 million and then dropped to about 27.6 million. There are 16,000 sheep and beef farms in the country which has made the country the world's largest exporter of lambs, with 24 million finished lambs recorded every year.

Sheep farming in Wales

Sheep farming is important to the economy of Wales. Much of Wales is rural countryside and sheep are a very common feature in the landscape throughout the country. The woollen industry in Wales was a major contributor to the national economy, accounting for two-thirds of the nation's exports in 1660. Sheep farms are most often situated in the country's mountains and moorlands, where sheepdogs are employed to round up flocks. Sheep are also reared, however, along the south and west coasts of Wales. In 2017 there were more than 10 million sheep in Wales and the total flock made up nearly 33% of the British total. In 2011 sheep farming accounted for 80% of agriculture in Wales.

Slope Point

Slope Point is the southernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand.

Slope Point lies just south of the small settlements of Waikawa and Haldane, near the southwestern edge of the Catlins and Toetoes Bay and 71 km (40 mi) east of Invercargill.

The land around Slope Point is used for sheep farming with no houses anywhere nearby. Eroded cliffs drop down to the sea below. An AA signpost there shows the distance to the Equator and the South Pole, and a small solar-powered lighthouse stands on farmland.

There is no road to Slope Point; it can be reached by a 50

-minute walk following dilapidated yellow markers. There is no public access during the lambing season (September – November).

Station (New Zealand agriculture)

A station, in the context of New Zealand agriculture, is a large farm dedicated to the grazing of sheep and cattle. The use of the word for the farm or farm buildings date back to the mid-nineteenth century. The owner of a station is called a runholder.

Some of the stations in the South Island have been subject to the voluntary tenure review process. As part of this process the government has been buying out all or part of the leases. Poplars Station in the Lewis Pass area was purchased in part by the government in 2003. The Nature Heritage Fund was used to purchase 4000 ha for $1.89 million. Birchwood Station was bought in 2005 to form part of the Ahuriri Conservation Park St James Station was purchased by the Government in 2008.


Waimatuku is a small Southland, New Zealand farming community on the Southern Scenic Route, on New Zealand State Highway 99 between Invercargill and Riverton. The community's name is Māori for "water of the bittern".

It is home to the Waimatuku Pipe Band and the Waimatuku Warriors mixed netball team. Traditionally, the area has been a strong sheep farming district, but dairy farming is increasing in popularity.

Welsh Mountain sheep

Welsh Mountain sheep (Welsh: Defaid (sing;"Dafad") Mynydd Cymreig, pronounced [ˈdevaɪd ˈmənɪð ˈkəmrɛɨɡ]) are small, hardy sheep from the higher parts of the Welsh mountains. The males have horns, and the females are polled (hornless); they have no wool on the face or legs, and they have long tails (normally left undocked). There are a number of varieties, bred for sheep farming in Wales. These are mainly colour variations, but some are being developed as separate breeds.



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