Other common names: Mérinos d’Arles
Arles Merino Sheep are found in the Provence region of southern France. Arles Merino are a fine-wool breed which originated from local ewes crossed first with Spanish Merino sheep and later with Châtillonais variety of Précoce.
Appearance / health:
Arles Merino sheep are white. Usually only the males have horns, which are rolled and spiraled, although small horns may be present on either sex. They have good fleece coverage, with the legs free from fleece. The mature rams weigh 70-90kg, and the ewes weigh 40-60kg.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.
For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
Rescued sheep as a pet
I have no ranching experience with sheep. We rescued a merino sheep out of the Colorado river when camping. It was only a month old or so. It became a pet and attached itself to our Labrador retriever, who was not thrilled with the prospect at first. But, they became fast friends.
Sheep are followers. This lamb followed our labrador for the next two years and did everything the lab did. It jumped into the back of the truck at a whistle. It ran on up the trail with the dog as we hiked. It slept with the dog at night. I never saw it lift its leg, but in all other things I’m sure it thought it was a dog.
It did fine on a leash when needed, even down the sidewalk in town. They are very social and tame. Not so good on house training, though..
From Postoastie May 3 2013 11:31PM
Best to prevent and Needed to Treat
Regular hoof trimming is important in the health of your sheep and can help reduce foot rot occurrence. Irregular hoofs can keep in mud/dirt and abnormal gaits that can help promote infection. Additionally, once foot rot occurs, trimming off disease portions of the hoof can help speed recovery, but must be combined with antibiotic treatment. By itself, hoof trimming is effective in treatment and along with other management practices is not the only thing needed to prevent the condition. .
From drkirkley 544 days ago