Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science


Generally sheep production relates to a grassland type of agriculture. But in many areas increasing acreages are used for cultivated crops, and less land is available for pasture due to new or improved cultural practices, increased fertilization, new or improved plant species and, in some areas, irrigation. Since the availability of land for use as pasture will most likely decrease in the future due to the increasing population and food demands of the world, confinement rearing of sheep may become a necessity. Mechanization in the sheep industry has been slow, while the use of confinement or semi-confinement management systems, laborsaving equipment and specially constructed housing has increased rapidly in the production of cattle, poultry and swine. Confinement rearing of sheep presents the opportunity to use labor-saving equipment and to intensify production. By increasing overall efficiency and especially increasing lambing percentage, sheep producers will be able to help meet increasing operating costs. In confinement rearing of sheep, consideration should be given toward the following points: 1. Highly tillable land will yield more in cash crops, whether grain or forage, than it will yield as pasture, thus resulting in a higher production per acre. 2. Losses in performance and death from parasites and bloat may be decreased. 3. Losses to predators could be more easily controlled. 4. The use of automation (silo unloaders, auger feeding systems and automatic unloading wagons) is permitted. This provides an excellent opportunity to expand the size of operation and increase the efficiency of production. 5. No increase in shelter or equipment would be necessary. Additional labor inputs of a confinement system may be less costly than maintaining sheep on pasture. 6. Ewes could be fed according to their needs. However, proper nutrition of the ewe and lamb may also be more critical. 7. Sanitation will be more critical. Good sanitation must be practiced to prevent disease from starting and spreading. 8. The opportunity to make use of new knowledge to induce estrus and estrus synchronization may also be present in confinement. A limited amount of research has been conducted on confinement of sheep; therefore, confinement needs to be studied further. Automation in feed and manure handling systems should be investigated, and the effect of total confinement on health, longevity and lifetime production of the ewe needs to be determined. This experiment was designed to study the effects of total confinement on ewes over a duration of time. These effects were measured in terms of lamb production, wool production and the health of the ewe.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sheep -- Feeding and feeds


South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University