I doubt most people would ever think of keeping sheep as a pet animal. And for most people its just not possible, sheep aren’t something you can keep in your back yard in a built up area.
Did you know that in America there is a big market for sheep as fancy pet animals, or ‘Fibre Pets’ as they are often called there. Some are bred for striking markings and fleece quality and can sell for $1000’s as pets purely based on looks and fleece.
I have owned sheep for over 10 years now and have found them to be amazing animals and pets! And I have owned many different types of animals too, from goats and pigs to horses and rabbits but sheep have always been my favourite, and I no longer keep goats and pigs or big horses, so that says a lot for my sheep!
That being said, sheep are not dogs, if you want something you can take for walks and throw a ball for, then you should probably get a dog..
Here in the UK sheep have the image of all looking the same, being timid, flighty, white, woolly farm animals that you see in abundance grazing up on the moors and hills, especially in Wales where there are more sheep than people!
A lot of people and farmers think that sheep can only be tame if they are hand reared and that they are dumb animals and they do nothing but eat grass.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
You can train them to come to call, walk and tie on a halter. They will paw at you for attention, scratches and cuddles, and of course for food! They are really fun to watch when they have their mad races around the field. Its not just the lambs that do this, our whole flock of 30 ewes, some elderly in their teens will all charge round leaping about and playing from time to time.
And they have added bonus’ like keeping the grass under control in the fields and helping eat away brambles and other shrubs and weeds like dock leafs. Find out more about what they eat on our Feeding page. If you are into crafts like spinning or felting then you get the bonus of a fleece from your own sheep!
With the exception of entire rams, female sheep and castrated males are generally very good natured and more gentle towards each other and towards you, they don’t butt like goats do.
It is very relaxing to just sit in the field with them on a warm sunny day, fussing and scratching them. My sheep will gather round and queue for attention, they will get lulled half asleep having their neck scratched. Stroking a pet animal is proven to be calming and stress relieving for people, and its certainly true with sheep, I’m sure they feel the same way too.
Especially on their chin and in between their front legs!
When they get more tame they will happily cuddle up!
Food is the key to many a sheep’s heart!
As much as you can spare, spend it with them!
Most sheep in the world have very little contact with people and only when they are rounded up for things like worming, weaning and shearing. Things which are all unpleasant for a sheep! Often they are handled in a rough manor with little care or chased by a dog and quad bike, scary stuff for a prey animal. But if you handle them nicely each day and they associate you with good experiences too they will reward you with being brilliant entertaining pets and quickly become part of the family!
So if you have a bit of land or an overly large garden, and want a pet that is a bit different, maybe sheep are the thing for you?
You can find more useful hints and tips on making friends with your sheep and getting them as used to you as possible on our Taming & Training page.