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How Much Space do Sheep Need?

Complete Guide to Space Requirements for Sheep

Sheep are herbivores that need about 16 square feet per sheep, pregnant ewes require about the same amount of space but have additional requirements during lambing season. lambs will typically range from 10-25 sq ft each depending on their size and diet needs while adult rams require around 30+sqft for penning purposes as well as grazing with rotational pastures

How Much Space do Sheep Need?

When Considering space requirements, we are going to focus on Domestic sheep. There are Two Components of Understanding Sheep habitat. How Much Space do Sheep Need?

How Much Space do Sheep Need? 1
how many acres do you need to raise sheep

Wild Sheep

Wild Sheep are seen in today’s world as a Hunters challenge. Most Wild Sheep live in Mountainous Regions. Let’s look at some of the Breeds

Check Our Amazons Resources on Sheep

  • Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep – these are the Largest wild sheep in North America. Even Reaching weights of 300 lbs. Both Male and Female Sheep have horns, with the Maale having the larger.
  • Stone Sheep – These sheep are a subspecies of the Dall Sheep – being darker in color and a little smaller. Ranging around 250 lbs. They live mostly in Canada.
  • Dall Sheep – These are White in color wild sheep. Mostly living in Canada and Alaska. their white color helps camouflage them in the snow-covered mountains
  • Desert Bighorns – These guys are smaller than their cousins, averaging males around 220lbs. Maybe because of the Desert Aeras they tend to inhabit
  • National Bighorn Sheep Center

Domestic Sheep

For thousands of years, sheep have been domesticated for people to use. They are such a versatile animal, that they have been a companion to just about all civilizations, no matter where they are at on the globe. Domestic Sheep fall into three main categories, with some of them called dual purpose that has been raised for more than one use. Those three major categories are

Sheep Associations 10 Breeds of Sheep

Breeds of SheepCountry OriginPurpose of BreedUseEwe WeightAssociation For Info
Suffolk SheepBritian / SuffolkFast GrowingMeat250 - 350 LbsUnited Suffolk Sheep Association
Merino SheepSpainSoftest WoolWool100 - 200 LbsAmerican and Delane Merino Sheep Association
HampshireBritainBest Tasting MuttonWool / Meat200 LbsAmerican Hampshire Sheep Association
RomneyEngland / Romney MarshDisease ResistanceWool / Meat225 - 275 LbsAmerican Romney Breeders Association
Lincoln SheepEnglandProduce Longest Fleece In WorldWool250 - 350 LbsNational Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association
Dorper SheepSouth AfricanFast Growing MeatMeat230 LbsAmerican Droper Sheep association
Turcana SheepRomainiaAdapted Alpine PastureWool / Milk / Meat175 - 200 Lbs?
Rambouilette SheepFranceStrong / Hearty / All ClimatesWool / Meat300 LbsAmerican Rambouilette Sheep Breeders Association
Leicester LongwoolUnited KingdomFast growing / Good FleeceWool200 LbsLeicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association
Breeds - Origin - Purpose - Weight
How Much Space do Sheep Need? 2
how much land do you need to raise sheep


Wool Sheep Breeds have been bred for high wool production. This falls in how much wool they produce. How Fast their Wool Grows, Size of the Fiber, Colors of the fiber, texture that is produced. Some of the Big Wool Producing Breeds of Sheep are

Sheep Farming for Wool Profitability Table

SheepLambs / 3 Per YrSpace Required 20 Sq Feet - EachGrazing Acres .3 / SheepFeed Required / Yr $10015 Lbs Wool / YearAverage Price $ 10 / LB WoolTotal Revenue Possible
1360 sq ft.9 acres$ 30045 lbs$ 450$ 150
26120 sq ft1.80 acres$ 60090 lbs$ 900$ 300
515300 sq ft4.5 acres$ 1,500225 lbs$ 2,250$ 750
1030600 sq ft9 acres$ 3,000450 lbs$ 4,500$ 1,500
20601200 sq ft18 acres$ 6,000900 lbs$ 9,000$ 3,000
30902,700 sq ft27 acres$ 9,0001,350 lbs$ 13,500$ 4,500
401204800 sq ft36 acres$ 12,0001,800 lbs$ 18,000$ 6,000
501503,000 sq ft45 acres$ 15,0002,250 lbs$ 22,500$ 7,500
1003006,000 sq ft90 acres$ 30,0004,500 lbs$ 45,000$ 15,000
20060012,000 sq ft180 acres$ 60,0009,000 lbs$ 90,000$ 30,000
Sheep can give Birth 6+ lambs every Two Years
Sheep can Produce 2 - 30 lbs of wool per year depending on Breed
Raw washed Wool Runs $ 6 - $ 14 using average $ 10
Feed 5 Months Buying Hay $ 100 rest Grazing
Please Check my Numbers


There are many Breeds of Sheep, but here is a list of Breeds of Sheep that are focused on Meat Producing. Their Hair is not generally used for wool. They are called Hair Sheep. So their main purpose is being Raised for meat use.

18 Breeds of Hair Sheep FAQ Table

Hair Breeds of SheepCountry OriginPurpose of BreedUseEwe Weight
KatahdinsCaribbean / Maine / AfricaTo Graze Power lines / instead of ChemicalsMeat120 - 160 lbs
DorperSouth AfricaThrive in Africa / Hot ClimateMeat / Fast Growing230 LBs
BlackbellyAmericaHot ClimatesMeat150 LBs
St. CroixCarribeanCame on Ships for Meat for sailorsMeat150 lbs
RomanovsRussiaPrimarily for MeatMeat
Wool - Double Coated
110 lbs
Blackhead PersianAfrica / SomailaBred for High Quanity of FatMeat120 lbs
West African DwarfSouth / Central AfricaMeat55 lbs
Red MaasiEast AfricaBred for Hardiness and parasite ResistanceMeat77 Lbs
Wiltshire HornEngland Do not suffer from FlystrikeMeat149 lbs
Royal WhiteUnited States / TexasBred for Tender Meat and Disease ResistantsMeat175 lbs
California RedNot completely Hair sheep/ Combination of both/ Prod 2 lambs YrMeat140 lbs
DamaraEgyptVigorous with fast growing / in extreme conditionsMeat110 lbs
PelibueyCuba / MexicoTropical SheepMeat75 lbs
AfricanaColumbia / VenezulaMeat110 lbs
MoradaBrazilSurvive ScrubMeat66 lbs
Brazillian SomailaSouth Africa / SomaliMeat
UdaAfricaLong Legged SheepMeat88 lbs
TouabireAfrica Dairy / Meat77 lbs
Breeds - Origin - Purpose - Weight
How Much Space do Sheep Need? 3
cheap sheep housing


Many Sheep and Goats are raised for their Milk Producing abilities. It ranges from the small farm where the sheep flocked is milked twice a day. To completely automated milking process using rotary Milking stations greatly amplifying the amount of Milk production that is possible.

Sheep Farming for Milk Profitability Table

SheepLambs / 3 Per YrSpace Required 20 Sq Feet - EachGrazing Acres .3 / SheepFeed Required / Yr $100Wool $ 15 lb / YearAverage Price $ 10 / LB Wool90 Gallon/ Yr each ewePrice $ 30 per GallonTotal Wool Revenue PossibleTotal Revenue Milk and Wool
1360 sq ft.9 acres$ 30045 lbs$ 4502708100$ 1508,250
26120 sq ft1.80 acres$ 60090 lbs$ 90054016,200$ 30016,500
515300 sq ft4.5 acres$ 1,500225 lbs$ 2,250135040,500$ 75041,250
1030600 sq ft9 acres$ 3,000450 lbs$ 4,500270081,000$ 1,50082,500
20601200 sq ft18 acres$ 6,000900 lbs$ 9,0005400162,000$ 3,000165,000
30902,700 sq ft27 acres$ 9,0001,350 lbs$ 13,5008100243,000$ 4,500247,500
401204800 sq ft36 acres$ 12,0001,800 lbs$ 18,00010,800324,000$ 6,000330,000
501503,000 sq ft45 acres$ 15,0002,250 lbs$ 22,50013,500405,000$ 7,500412,500
1003006,000 sq ft90 acres$ 30,0004,500 lbs$ 45,00027,000810,000$ 15,000825,000
20060012,000 sq ft180 acres$ 60,0009,000 lbs$ 90,00054,0001,620,000$ 30,0001,650,000
Sheep can give Birth 6+ lambs every Two Years
Sheep can Produce 1/2 Gallon Milk per day / 180 Day Lactation
Raw Sheep Milk $9 - $25 per Quart - Used $ 30 per Gallon for Table
Feed 5 Months Buying Hay $ 100 rest Grazing
Please Check my Numbers

How Much Space do Domestic Sheep Need

Before going toward the space requirements, we should know about the housing of the sheep. The sheep’s housing and space requirements are the following:

See Our Extensive Guide – 16 Ways to Make Money Sheep Farming

What shelter do sheep need

A sheep that is relaxed in its environment is gregarious, it is calm yet vigilant and it is interesting in its surroundings.

What are some Important Tips to Remember?

For housing sheep, in addition to their normal requirements for food, water, exercise and shelter, particular consideration should be given to:

  • Their response to isolation and their need for social contact
  • The effect of space allowance and group size on social dynamics
  • Their need to establish a maternal bond. Ewes and Lambs
  • Their need to lie down and ruminate (Chew)

To provide accommodation that meets the species-specific needs of sheep, housing should be provided which allows sheep the opportunity for social interaction, the opportunity to carry out normal behaviors, and the opportunity to rest and withdraw from each other.

What shelter do sheep need

There are two types of housing for sheep.

  1. Indoor Shelters
  2. Outdoor Shelter

Outdoor housing:

Types of Outdoor Shelters may be in pens, yards or paddocks, pasture, breeding pens.


Important Tips in Sheep Pens

  • There should be a large enough gap beneath horizontal bars at floor level to allow sheep to remove limbs easily. Otherwise, they may slide limbs underneath when they lie down and break them when they attempt to stand.
  • The placement of partition in different configurations within the resting area of deep pens which allowed 1.5 square yards per ewe. Partition did not change the resting time of the sheep or the synchrony of resting, however, synchrony of the resting was achieved in some configurations by some sheep resting in the less attractive activity area of the pen on a concrete floor(the resting area had a wooden floor). The addition of the walls also did not alter the competition for lying space as measured by the displacements of the ewes from the resting area. The conclusion is that it is probably more important for sheep to have enough resting space and the ability to rest simultaneously, rather than the ability to avoid visual or physical contact with others.
  • The Canadian Council on animal care has suggested that surfaces should be impervious, easily sanitized and resistant to water and corrosive materials such as animal manure and cleaning solutions. There should be no sharp edges or protrusions which may cause injury. Any paints or glazes should be non-toxic, lead-free, mold-resistant, and durable. Penning that should be free from harmful chemicals should be wood preservatives.
  • The use of waterproof electrical fittings allows rooms and pens to be pressure-washed for cleaning.
  • Outdoor yards should be situated on a well-drained site with an even slope. It is not available, a fill of road base is recommended to facilitate draining.
How Much Space do Sheep Need? 4

How High Does the Sheep Pen need to be?

  • Commercial yard designs provide heights of around 40 ” for yards designed for adult sheep although some recommend as low as 33 “. Rail spacing is 5″ at the lower levels and up to 7 ” between the top rails in a fence of steel piping.
  • On the basis of the chest dimensions of lambs, it would appear the rail spacing should not exceed the chest width and should be 2-3 ” less than the chest depth of any size sheep. Note that chest width is the maximum width of the chest and chest depth is measured vertically from the sternum to the vertebrae.

What is the Pen Floor area for Sheep?

  • Group pens should provide enough space for the behavioral needs of animals to be met in terms of resting space and also allow space for animals to move apart from the group. Increased space allowance tends to be associated with a decrease in the occurrence of interactions and potentially injurious events when groups of sheep are mixed, as they are able to move away to minimize aggression. Partitions may be included to break the space up.
  • It is important to provide a well-drained area for sheep to rest and ruminate. They generally lie down to ruminate and space should be large enough to accommodate all sheep in the pen to lie down at once as sheep have a strong social motivation to synchronize activities( e.g. all graze or rest at the same time). A reduction of the synchronization of lying can be regarded as a negative indicator of welfare.

Lying behavior decreases as space allowance are decreased. Sheep significantly reduced their lying time when lying space was decreased from 0.75-0.50 meter square per ewe. Synchronization of lying was also reduced with decreased lying space. A space allowance of greater than 4 square feet per sheep is required before most of the sheep in a group will lie down at the same time. Lying time is increased in pens which have their longest side along the corridor.

  • Stocking density is a critical factor for lactating ewes and a space allowance of fewer than 6 sq feet square may have an adverse effect on health and performance in terms of milk yield, somatic cell count, and microorganism counts in the milk and incidence of subclinical mastitis.
  • In designing pens for single housing of sheep, consideration should be given to ensuring that the shape of the pen allows them to move around freely, lie down and engage in species-specific behaviors. The pen should be designed to accommodate the largest animal likely to be kept.
  • It is commonly suggested that the minimum should be 50 ” long by 40 ” wide, however, Wolfensohn and Lloyd recommend 6′ by 3′ and Reinhardt and Reinhardt recommend that for a single sheep, a space of at least 6 sq feet should be provided to allow an adult sheep to turn freely and to take a few steps in one direction.
Sheep handling Pens

What bedding should I use for sheep

Sheep need a place to lay down. When a sheep sleeps it will squat down on its haunches, if a ewe is heavy with lamb, they will need to rest more. It is important that it is safe and dry for comfort and sanitation and disease control.

  • Hay
  • Straw
  • Dried Corn Stalks
  • Peanut Hulls
  • Sawdust
  • Wood Shavings
  • Peat
  • Hemp
  • Leaves
  • Sand

There have been various recommendations given for space allowances for sheep.

What Kind of Floor Surface/Bedding Given to the Sheep?

  • There is a range of flooring available for indoor housing. Factors that should be considered in the selection of materials for floor surfaces include sheep comfort and floor preferences, the potential for slippage when wet, and the potential degree of hoof wear for the sheep.
  • The ideal floor for sheep should provide adequate traction for the animals and not become slippery for the animals or animal attendants, especially when wet. Slip-resistant grooves or cleats should be effectively drained. A slope of at least 1:15 should be provided for adequate drainage in pens with solid floors.
  • The surface should provide a degree of even wear on the hoof that will minimize the amount of hoof trimming required while avoiding excess wear of the hoof which may cause discomfort or pain. It should allow fecal matter to pass through while providing a degree of insulation for the animals, especially while lying down.
  • Hardwood wooden slats provide the second largest area of foot-floor contact after solid flooring. It is recommended that 3 ” slats with a 3/4 ” gap.
  • Sheep will always stand with their weight on the front third of the foot on woven steel mesh flooring. This results in uneven wear on the weight-bearing surface of the hoof resulting in an area of the thin hoof at the point of weight-bearing. Over time, heavy sheep will find this type of surface very uncomfortable. Regular foot-paring is recommended to overcome irregular wear on this type of flooring. Optimum dimensions of mesh floors for ewes feet of adult sheep and newborn lambs and from the hoof cleft value. Demands were for adequate self-cleaning of the grating and avoidance of hoof damage. It was found that for ewes, the optimum is a web width of 1.5 ” and a gap of 3/4 ” and for lambs, the web width is 3/4 ” and a gap 1 / “. Grate spacing of 3/4 – 1” was too small for ewes, with the grate-gap ratio being too wide.

What is the Dimension for Water Supply/Troughs?

·       Ideally, there should be space at the trough for all the sheep in group pens to feed /water at once. This prevents competition and bullying. It is suggested that sheep do not fight in competition for feed and water but dominance occurs in leadership to the feed and in competitiveness for space at the trough.

Trough must be high enough to prevent contamination from feces and bedding. They should be designed to prevent sheep from walking on the feed and to prevent feed from being pulled onto the floor. This minimizes parasite spread and decreases feed wastage, making cleaning easier.

What is the Recommendation for Handling Facilities?

Handling yards should comprise holding areas(high density and low density), forcing area and race. In holding yards, allow one sheep per 4 square feet, however, in high-density areas a space allowance of two sheep per 4 square feet should be allowed to provide enough space while allowing room for gates to swing,  and up to three sheep per 4 square feet in forcing pens.

Sheep Barn

Paddock / Pasture Field Housing


  • Outdoor sheep require shelter from extremes of weather, which may be provided either by the tree, scrub, long grass, stone walls, solid panels fixed to fences under a building eve.
  • Freshly shorn sheep and newborn lambs are especially susceptible to the effects of cold and heat stress. Sheep commonly seek the shade in summer, however not all animals consistently seek the shade. I was shown that the body core temperature did not significantly vary between sheep in the shade and those remaining in the sun for sheep with fleece length of approximately 1 “.

If You are Keeping the Sheep Inside Here are some Quick Numbers for You

  • Ewes – 12 ‘ Square feet
  • Breeding Ewes – 16′ square feet
  • Lambing Pen – 25′ square feet
  • Rams – 30 ‘ square Feet
  • Feeder Lambs – 10′ Square Feet
  • Diagram – Size of a Sheep

Slatted floor:

  • They are suitable for lambs and sheep from 12 weeks to 12-months old
  • The target is well-maintained slats, plastics, or timber.
  • The surface of the slat should have chamfered edges or be curved
State of the Art Slatted Sheep Shed

Sheep Living Outside

If Sheep are living totally outside. They can do this especially if you have planted winter forage. They can eat through 12″ of snow. You need to make sure they have access to unfrozen clean water.

How Much do Sheep Eat

I wanted to give you the basics of seeing how much grazing you might need. I am going to give you the formulas and the links, but truthfully these calculations are above my head but they are very important for your calculations. – look at links for details

A sheep will eat approximately 3-4% of its body weight per day

  • 200lb sheep x 4% = 8lbs a day
  • Height of the forage in your field. Height x 200 = dry matter per inch per acre. For instance 10″ Tall x 200 = 2000lbs per acre
  • To determine Grazing capacity – downloadable pdf here, but the formula is Total ALUM/acres – North Dakota State University
Calculating Grazing Land

Grazing amounts are also dependent on a lot of factors.

  • Sheep breed
  • Statis of Sheep, – Dry Lactating – Pregnant
  • Acres available
  • Forage Planted
  • Rainfall
  • Soil Nutrient Levels
  • Forage Nutrients levels
  • Forage Moisture Content
  • Whether Sheep for Meat, Wool, or Milk


  • Gregory Gaines

    Darlene and I have Lived on a 500 Acre farm, we lived there raising our 3 children and 6 Foster Children. On That farm we and our Children Raised Rabbits Chickens Hogs Cattle Goats Gaines Gregory