Stocking and Production Practices for Sheep

Procuring Foundation Stock for Breeding 
 Ideally, foundation-breeding stock should be purchased from reputable sheep breeding farms or government Livestock investigation and Breeding Centers LIBC so as to be certain of their purity, high genetic quality and freedom from diseases. 
Unfortunately, such sources are too few at present and where they exist, the number of breeding animal available for sale is limited. This leaves the open market as the main source of breeder stock for farmers. 
In purchasing animals from the market, major consideration must be given to the animal’s health, age and physical appearance. The behavior and posture of an animal are reflections of its health status. Age can be determined from the number and size of teeth. Therefore, the farmer is advised to: 
a. Buy animals that are free from obvious diseases such as catarrh, diarrhea and skin diseases. Also ensure that, animals are free of ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks on their bodies. 
b. Avoid animals with physical defects such as lameness. Walk the animal around to find out, blindness and malformations. 
c. A lean or stunted animal should be avoided. Buy only alert, fine looking and active animals with bright eyes and fine coat. 
d. Ewes (female sheep) should be between 1.5 and 3 years of age. 
e. A -1.5 to 2 year-old sheep has two broad (big) central teeth, a -2 to 2.5 year-old has 4, while those aged about 3 years have 6 big teeth. 
f. Buy in small batches from many markets in different localities so as to have animals that are as unrelated as possible and to have genetic variety in your foundation stock. 

Initial Health Precautions 

A number of health precautions should be taken before introducing newly purchased animals into your farm of flock. 
These precautionary measures are aimed at preventing the introduction of diseases into the farm and also to improve the chances of survival of your newly purchase stock. 
It is good husbandry practice to have an isolated area away from your main flock where newly purchased stock can be quarantined for a month before introduction into the main flock.
 Adequate feed, water and shelter 
should be provided in the quarantine area.
Recommended treatment for a one month quarantine period are as follows: 
• 1st day: Give prophylactic antibiotic treatment for 3 days
• 4th day: Give broad spectrum anthelmintics and coccidiostat 
treatments. Coccidiostat treatment should continue for 7 days. 
• 7th Day: Give tick-bath against ectoparasites. 
• 28th day: Repeat treatment with anthelmintics and also repeat the 
tick-bath. Trim overgrown hooves 
• 30th day: Animals can leave quarantine to join the main flock 
In the humid zones of Southern Nigeria where PPR (pests des petit ruminants, a disease of sheep and goats also known as “kata”) may be a problem, the following vaccination schedule should be included in the quarantine procedures outlined above: 
Recommended treatment for a one month quarantine period are as follows: 
• 1st Day: Give prophylactic treatment with hyper-immune PPRantiserum (raised in cattle) subcutaneously (4 ml for full-grown adult). 
• 10th day: Give TCRV vaccination against PPR (one cattle dose) subcutaneously in the neck region above the shoulder. Of course initially, when starting a sheep farm you will certainly require assistance from a veterinarian or trained personnel to carry out these procedures but except for the vaccination you will be able to carry them out routinely yourself from then on. 

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