Set up your facilities
Set up your facilities first. Nobody is every totally set up when
they get their first animals, but you'll be thankful you've at least started off right.
Good fencing. Sheep challenge fences, especially intelligent sheep. Don't skimp
on your fencing materials - the money you save will be lost when your first animal
escapes. Consider New Zealand style "hi-tensile" fencing if you're starting from
scratch. These multi-strand electric systems were designed specifically for sheep and work
quite well. They also look nice, require less maintenance, and are fairly easy to install
or modify. Heavy gauge woven "field" fence is an alternative, although you run
the risk of Jacobs getting their horns stuck. By all means, do NOT use barbed wire. In the
best case, barbs will rip out wool; in the worst case, they'll snare and shread a sheep.
If you have barbed wire anywhere on your property, get rid of it if there's any chance the
sheep could come in contact with it. Premier
Fencing is a good mail-order source for supplies, and their catalog has a wealth of
Jacob-friendly feeders. Unless you have plenty of good
quality pasture, you'll probably be feeding your sheep. Because of their horns, Jacobs
have problems with some traditional feeders. Make sure a 4-horned adult can get feed out
of the feeder you select. Remember that some may have forward-tipping horns that will
prevent them from eating at certain angles. Avoid feeders that require the sheep to stick
their heads into a box. Those horns increase the chances of an animal getting stuck and
being injured by others shoving against it. If you build feeders out of wood, double the
recommended strength of the lumber used for parts that will come into contact with horns.
For example, if your feeder plan calls for 1x4 slats, use 2x4s.
Catching area. You'll have to catch your sheep to shear, medicate, trim hooves,
etc. You won't be able to run them down on open pasture - don't waste your energy trying.
They'll quickly come to sense when you intend to catch them and head for open ground. Your
best bet is to set up feeders in a pen area that you can close off once your sheep are
inside. The smaller the area, the less speed they can generate when you come in to catch
Before you shop .|. Setting up your
facilities .|. Finding a breeder .|. Picking
out a Jacob