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  • Welcome 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.

  • About the 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.

  • Susan Schoenian
    Sheep & Goat Specialist
    W. MD Research & Education Center
    University of Maryland Extension - (301) 432-2767 x343


Llama guardian
Guardian llama

Donkey on guardian duty
Donkey guardian

 Co-grazing in Vermont
A "flerd"


    Other livestock guardians

  • LLamas
    Llamas are naturally agressive towards coyotes and dogs. Their responses to predators include becoming alert; alarm calling; walking or running toward the predator; chasing; kicking or pawing the predator; or positioning themselves between the sheep and the predator. They have been known to herd the sheep together into one area to keep the safe.

    Llamas will usually bond with sheep in a few days. A single llama usually works best. An intake male llama may injure ewes as the smell of a ewe in heat is similar to a female llama in heat.

    Alpacas do not make suitable guardians. Like sheep, they need protection from predators.

  • Donkeys
    Donkeys are increasing in popularity as protectors of sheep and goats in the United States. Donkeys have an inherent dislike for dogs and other canids. They will bray, bare their teeth, run and chase, and attempt to bite and kick the intruder.

    Only a gelded jack or jenny (female) should be used as a livestock guardian since intact males can be aggressive towards livestock. A single donkey will usually bond easily with the sheep.

  • Guardian dogs effectively deter coyote and dog predation in fenced pastures and on open range, whereas llamas and donkeys are best suited to fenced pastures of less than 30 acres. Guardian dogs are more effective in deterring bear and mountain lion predation, whereas some donkeys and possibly llamas are afraid of bears and mountain lions.

  • A flerd
    Running sheep and cattle together has been shown to reduce predator losses, but in order for mixed species grazing to be an effective deterrent to predators, the sheep and cattle must "bond" together. Young lambs can be bonded with cattle by penning them in confinement close to the cattle.

    When bonded lambs and cattle are turned out to pasture, the lambs will follow the cattle. When they are threatened by a predator, the lambs will run and huddle among the cattle. A mixed group of cattle and sheep is called a "flerd."