Sheep under covered yards

How Does Weather Affect Sheep?

Healthy sheep that are acclimatised, and have their feed and water maintained, can usually tolerate a range of varying temperatures. However, it is important to consider weather extremes and vulnerable sheep.

How weather can affect sheep

  • In extreme weather conditions, sheep need more energy to simply function normally and have less energy for growth and production, limiting their ability to reach their potential.
  • Sheep are prone to cold stress or heat stress with pregnant ewes and lambs being most susceptible. This brings its own issues including higher lamb mortality and reproductive problems.
  • In extreme heat, sheep tend to have a reduced appetite meaning weight loss and decreased feed efficiency.
  • Heat-stressed sheep are also susceptible to conditions such as acidosis or metabolic disease.
  • Recently shorn sheep exposed to the sun can suffer sunburn and other skin reactions like facial eczema.
  • The natural reaction of sheep to extreme cold often worsens the situation as their mob instincts can lead to suffocation or drowning.
Sheep under covered yards

Exposure to extreme elements endangers the overall health and wellbeing of your sheep and can involve extra time, cost and resources to remedy. 

Read our next article; how to reduce the impact of weather on sheep.

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