Saturday, 25th November 2017
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SHEPHERD

Almost everybody will know what a shepherd is, for one reason or another, but the role is not simply just watching over flocks of sheep. Shepherds are responsible for the overall management of sheep on a farm, looking after the welfare, health and performance of the flock. Shepherds are at the managerial level of sheep farming, and will often be assisted by sheep farm workers or lambers.

A sheep farm will have a range of sheep of all ages and sexes. A sheep flock can vary in numbers from a few dozen to a few thousand. Some sheep farms will specialise in breeding, in which case these farms will keep a selection of female ewes. Duties of shepherds also vary seasonally, usually depending on whether farm breeds lambs or not.

Typical seasonal duties of a shepherd may involve the following:

  • Preparing ewes to be mated
  • Lambing ewes and helping with any difficulties during birth
  • Caring for lambs
  • Maintaining the grazing and milking of the flock
  • Monitoring the health and security of the flock from disease, pests or predators
  • Keeping records of numbers in the flock, and identifications of each animal
  • Shearing wool in the spring
  • Arranging the sale of wool and selecting lambs for sale in the food market

The lambing process usually begins in the spring, when there is plenty of grass to feed the ewes and lambs, although some sheep breeds can become pregnant and lamb outside of the natural lambing season. Shepherds will need to monitor the entire process of lambing, maintaining the health of the ewes throughout their pregnancy and during the birth of the lambs. Contract lambers may be called in to help with the lambing process, particularly on larger farms.