Six key things to consider when keeping sheep

Six key things to consider when keeping sheep

Are you planning to keep sheep on a smallholding or farm in the West Country? If so, there’s a few things to consider when it comes to buying land suitable for your woolly friends….

Purpose

Whether you plan to keep sheep for lamb meat, wool for weaving or to show at local and even national events, knowing the reason and purpose for keeping sheep is essential when it comes to buying the right smallholding or farm.

It’ll determine the amount of land you require along with any sheds and space for additional equipment or housing. Planning on selling your own meat onsite? You’ll also need to consider extra buildings, facilities and public access for a farm shop and of course, in terms of locality, where nearby butchers are based to keep those food miles down.

Housing

One of the biggest factors to consider when buying a farm or smallholding is where to keep the sheep during winter months or extreme weather conditions?

A smallholding or farm with sheds will be a huge advantage, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here; is there land or potential planning permission to develop the land you’re buying? If it’s not already in place what are the chances of getting it, and how much will it cost to develop?

NB: The amount of space needed depends on the type and size of your sheep; latest Government requirements can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sheep-and-goat-welfare

Type of land

The type of land you purchase will have an impact on the sort of stock you’ll be able to keep, and visa versa. Whilst some hardy sheep will be happy to graze on the hills of Dartmoor and Exmoor, others will be better suited to flatter, more sheltered pastures.

You’ve already got an idea of what you’re going to be using the sheep for, make sure that your selection of breed and land allow you to maximising your chances of success.

Pasture size

You know the breed, what you’ll be using them for and what sort of land they’ll be located on, so exactly how much of that land do you need?

This will be linked to your commercial goals; are you looking to hobby farm with just a few sheep giving you a residual income, or to develop into something more intensive and commercial in both size and nature?

The National Sheep Association gives a guideline of approximately six to ten sheep per acre, depending on climate, topography and grass quality.

Soil type

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of buying a farm or smallholding with the perfect soil. Different types of soil all have varying properties, which can affect crop yields, water drainage and nutrients.

The South West is predominately made up of wet clay loam, which is rich in nutrients and can be managed by drainage techniques, subsoiling and rotation, helping to reduce build-up of clay under foot.

There’s plenty of thriving farms and smallholdings of all sizes in the region, so you can be sure we’ve got the soil to support your dream!

The future

A common point from us; whenever you’re looking to buy a farm or smallholding, always consider your future aspirations. Do you see yourself owning a flock of thousands, or so few that they have names? There needs to be growth in your West Country Dream when you want it. Buying a property and land will ensure you’re not moving your dream down the road in just a few years time.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Farming and agriculture