Department of Husbandry
Sheep-farming has been practiced since the earliest times, and is one of the most profitable branches of the livestock industry. The modern breeds are the result of careful selection and breeding of those best adapted to the various localities, each breed being established for distinct purposes. Soil, climate and feed in these localities determined to a large extent the characteristics of the breed. Nearly all of the common breeds are of foreign origin, and the turn controlling factors in their development were the production of mutton and the production of wool. The sheep has been termed the plant scavenger of the farm. In fact, there are very few plants: sheep will not eat during some stage of its growth, and yet the cured fodders and grasses must be of the best quality to obtain the best results in feeding operations. Sheep require less pasture than any other animal on the farm. After the grain is cut and stacked, sheep are turned on the stubble to eat the weeds which otherwise would go to seed. Many farmers make a practice of turning lambs into the corn field in the early fall to gather up all the weeds. Many farmers in the corn belt sow rape with the grain to furnish additional feed since this affords an abundance of succulent forage late in the season up to the time of severe frosts. Bulletin 119 of this Station (edition exhausted) reports an average gain on lambs in a two year's experiment pasturing sheep on rape of .34 and .37 of a pound daily. This gain is larger for the same breed, and was made much cheaper than the gain made by any of the lots in this six years' experiment where grain and oilmeal were fed. A brief history of each of the six breeds used in this experiment is given to show the similarity in their blood lines. In this connection it will be noted that the oldest and best established breeds were the strongest breeders.
feeding sheep, breeding sheep, livestock husbandry
South Dakota Experiment Station, South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts
Wilson, J.W., "Breeding and Feeding Sheep" (1911). Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletins. 127.