to Sheep 101.
The purpose of Sheep 101 is to teach 4-H and FFA members,
students, teachers, beginning shepherds, and the general public
about sheep, their products, how they are raised, and their
contributions to society. The site uses simple language and
pictures to illustrate the various topics. To begin learning
about sheep, click on a link in the menu bar or choose a topic
from the drop down menu above.
author. The author of Sheep 101 is Susan
Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist at the University
of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center.
Susan has been with University of Maryland Extension since 1988. She raises Katahdin sheep on her small farm, called
The Baalands, in Clear
Spring, Maryland. Susan has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science degrees from Virginia
Tech and Montana State University, respectively.
Sheep & Goat Specialist
W. MD Research & Education Center
University of Maryland Extension
firstname.lastname@example.org - (301) 432-2767 x343
Benefits of grazing
Managed or "prescribed" grazing is good for the environment.
A grass-covered sod is the best protection against soil erosion
and runoff. The vegetation and soils on grazing lands are a large
reservoir for organic carbon.
Properly managed, grazing lands help reduce atmospheric levels
of carbon dioxide and may reduce greenhouse gas accumulation.
Private grazing lands provide habitat for two-thirds of our wildlife,
water for urban and other users, and visually appealing open space.
The Public Domain
Some people believe that we should not allow sheep or any other
livestock to graze our public range and grasslands, due to the
damage that was caused by overgrazing in the past. Past overgrazing
was caused by lack of management and should not be a reason to
ignore the potential benefits of grazing.
Nowadays, rangelands can be improved with managed or "prescribed"
grazing, whereby you control how many, when, and for how long
livestock graze a certain area. Research has shown that light
or moderate grazing is usually more beneficial than no grazing.
Grazing fees controversy
Farmers and ranchers pay a fee to graze their livestock on land
that is owned by the federal government. The fee is $1.35 per
animal unit month (AUM). An AUM is the amount of forage it takes
to feed a cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep and goats
for one month.
Animal unit (AU) equivalents
Class of animal
1,000 lb. cow, with calf
Source: Determining your stocking rate, Utah State
Some people think that grazing fees are too low, because they
are well below the cost of leasing private land. But what they
fail to realize is that it usually takes more acres of public
land to graze livestock.
Ranchers incur much higher costs on public than private land because
they are responsbile for making improvements to the land, such
as building and repairing fences and developing water sources.
They also have to share the land with other uses: mining, forestry,
wildlife, hunting, and recreation.
Sheep can graze very close to the ground and like other livestock
will overgraze, if they are allowed to. Overgrazing can lead to
loss of vegetation and soil erosion. However, it can be prevented
with good grazing practices.