5. Sheep farming

Why do we need sheep?

There are about 420,000 sheep in Switzerland. A distinction is made between meat breeds and milk breeds. The majority of sheep are kept for meat production, although sheep milk production is currently increasing. The most important products obtained today are therefore sheep meat, sheep milk and sheep wool. Most of the Swiss sheep farms are meat producers. However, there are also dairy sheep farms. Sheep wool and sheepskins are hardly in demand anymore, because since about 1930 the synthetic fiber has replaced the natural sheep wool.



As ruminants, sheep eat mainly hay and grass. The frugal and robust sheep are particularly important for the Swiss alpine economy. Around 200,000 sheep are grazed on Swiss alps every year.

Why do you have to shear sheep?

The thick wool coat as it is common nowadays was bred over thousands of years. The original sheep had a short coat. So that the sheep neither suffers from the summer heat nor sweats through the winter in the barn, it is sheared at least once a year. In addition, shearing helps to prevent the coat from sticking together or becoming a dwelling place for parasites.

HOW DO YOU CALL THE SHEEP TYPES?

The names are classified according to the following criteria.

  • Lamb: The lamb is a newborn and not older than one year.
  • Suckling lamb: The suckling lamb, is needed later for milk production. It is between eight weeks and six months old.
  • Fattening lamb: The fattening lamb is used later for meat production. It is called so up to one year.
  • Sheep (ewe), : The sheep is female and over one year old. This usually refers to the ewe, which is used for breeding.
  • Buck: The buck is male and not castrated, also older than one year.
  • Mutton (wether): Mutton refers to the male, castrated, over one year old.

why do we have sheep on our farm?

The sheep on our farm, currently there are 4 ewes, stay on the farm all summer. They are the lawn mowers for our very steep meadow slopes. In the spring, a ram joins our small flock, which provides for offspring. We offer the very healthy lamb meat directly to our customers. Our sheep are sheared in spring and autumn. Wool is unfortunately a waste product and ends up more and more in the garbage.

Fun-Fact

The intestines of sheep were used for strings of musical instruments and tennis rackets, and nowadays are used for the production of sausage casings.

The sheep’s wool finds new use as an insulating material in house construction. The fiber of the wool is hollow inside and therefore insulates very well.

Sources:
Landwirtschaftlicher Informationsdienst (LID) Schaf
Wikipedia Hausschaf