Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Expectancy of Sheep

The life expectancy of sheep is similar to a large dog breed of about ten to twelve years. Some sheep breeds are known to have a longer life cycle such as the Merino. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest sheep lived to be 23yrs. She was a Merino however; the length of a sheeps productive cycle is much shorter. A ewes offspring production is highest between three and six years of age and usually starts to decline after age seven. As a result, most ewes are removed from our flock prior to reaching their natural life expectancy. It is necessary to remove the older ewes in order to make room for the younger animals. As we mature our genetic line of sheep we must provide an adequate environment for the younger sheep to thrive. In harder environments, where forage is sparse, ewes are usually culled at an even younger age due to tooth ware and break down.  It can become difficult for sheep in these conditions to maintain proper body condition and consume enough forage to feed their lambs. It is possible for a ewe to be productive past ten years of age and stay healthy but this is typically the exception to a natural sheep life cycle.

Hope all your lambs are happy and healthy!


Andy Karras
Karras Farm

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