*This article was researched and and written by Rockingham Cooperative Summer Intern, Aiden Shiflett and intended to benefit producers of medium to large (175-300 lb) frame sized sheep.

Sheep farming is an industry with many challenges. As sheep farmers we strive to keep the health of our flock at a very high standard, especially during the mid spring to late summer when most sheep farmers are breeding in the pasture. We at Rockingham Coop have put together this article with the help of a local sheep farmer to hopefully help any new shepherds keep their flocks in great condition during the summer months.

Pasture Capacity

Knowing the capacity of your pasture is very important when grazing. This helps to make sure you aren’t overgrazing and helps you keep a healthy pasture all summer long. According to Virginia Tech, it is the most efficient to feed 1 animal unit (AU) per acre (1AU=1000lbs of body weight {3-6 sheep}). This number can fluctuate for many reasons such as if the animals are being fed a ration while being on pasture, the yield of the pasture, as well as whether the farmer has planted another crop to increase the nutritional benefit of the pasture.


Worms in livestock during the summer are a big issue and it’s no secret that some parasitic worms are building a resistance to some de-wormers. To help us get some insight on how some locals deal with worms through the summer we contacted David Shiflett. David is a local sheep farmer located in Augusta county as well as a farmer, he is a past Ag teacher at local high schools. David started his flock in the early 80s and was willing to share his deworming practice to help new farmers.

“We use the Cydectin sheep drench once a year for any sheep going to pasture. Beyond that, we only use it as an active treatment for any sheep we see with the symptoms of having worms. This practice gives the sheep a boost before going to pasture and forces the sheep to build their own resistance to the parasites.”  – David Shiflett

David’s total sheep flock sits at around 350 head and with this practice experiences a very low level of animals he has to treat for active worm infections.


Here at Rockingham Coop we want what’s best for our consumers and for the animals they raise. This includes ways to save money when it comes to feeding during the summer. One way to do that is to keep a check on the nutritional quality of grass in your pasture. Ruminant animals get their nutrients from the soil through the grass and other plants they eat. So to keep the animals nutritional needs filled make sure to properly fertilize your pasture as well as get soil tests done to know what you may need to add. Resources to help with nutrition such as fertilizer and soil tests can be available through your local Rockingham Coop. Additionally sheep should have a regular ration of minerals throughout the summer as well. The best way to feed these minerals is to purchase or build your sheep a free access mineral feeder that keeps the minerals dry and away from other animals. If you are dual grazing your pasture make sure to check the ingredients of your minerals. The body of a sheep is unable to process copper and the sheep will die of copper toxicity relatively easily. Copper is common in cow and goat minerals and should be kept away from sheep at all times.

Time On Pasture

Throughout the flock’s time on pasture the sheep will slowly deplete the grass and will begin causing slight wear on the field through compaction. This is the time the farmer would prefer to remove the sheep from the field and begin feeding in a barn. If space is an issue then the sheep can still occupy the pasture as long as the farmer takes over feeding them a full ration. The only problem this poses is that the sheep will cause more compaction to the soil causing spots where the grass may take a year or more to come back. It also increases the chances of sheep trying to find ways to leave the field. Anyone who has raised sheep knows sheep are completely gut driven and will find any chance to get grass on another side of a fence. Proper fence maintenance is important when raising sheep. Rotational grazing is another option that helps limit the wear on the fields throughout the grazing period and can even help with pasture quality and yield if left empty for long enough.

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