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The sheep industry in Manitoba is expanding mainly due to the increasing demand for fresh lambs produced close to the markets. Manitoba has an advantage of being in the midst of Canada with affordable and resourceful land suitable for sheep production. Presently, more than 600 sheep producers in Manitoba are producing sheep products including quality lamb meat, and wool. The majority of the lambs produced in Manitoba are shipped live to the Eastern as well as to the Western markets. Local demand for fresh lamb within the province is also increasing . Manitoba sheep industry mainly based on two types of production systems including: extensive and intensive. In extensive or range type production system sheep are usually raised on the pasture throughout the year except during severe cold conditions. In intensive production systems the sheep are raised in controlled but clean and well ventilated barns to maximize the productivity. Both systems carry their own merits. Cold weather conditions during winter have never been a barrier for the growth of sheep industry in Manitoba. The Questionnaire for New Entrants in Sheep Industry is helpful to self evaluate if someone is considering to start a sheep operation.
Producers can also find wealth of sheep production information on this page including:
The key for the success of a sheep operation is the breeding program complemented with efficient reproductive management. Selective breeding with sound planning produces good healthy lambs and other sheep products fit for any market. Links below provide information and resources to plan for breeding and reproduction.
Manitoba sheep producers have year round access to a variety of reasonably priced, locally grown forages and feed grains (barley, wheat, oats, corn, etc.) to meet the needs of sheep production. Feeds and nutrition is the major expense on a sheep operation. The following information help to provide nutritionally balance and cost efficient feed for sheep flocks.
A properly managed sheep operation in all its aspects is important for the sustainability and profitability of the farm. Each sheep farm is managed differently specific to the goals of the operation. To maximise the profits of a sheep operation timely management of breeding, lambing, health and feeding areas is the key. Following information provide the tools to manage different phases of production.
Sheep are very adaptable to Manitoba's climate. For ewe-lamb operations, the facilities required depend in large part on the time of year lambing is scheduled to take place. Producers lambing on green grass have been very successful keeping their flocks in the field (no shed) the year round with only trees for shelter. For more confined operations open front sheds, shelterbelts or windbreak fences are used. Adult sheep do not require insulated or heated housing. When lambing during colder months, however, a warm lambing area is beneficial. Canada Service Plan and National Farm Animal Care Council provide guidelines to design sheep facilities.
An ideal building site is the one that slopes to the south and has shelter from the prevailing winter winds. For sheep wintering areas and feedlots being "confined livestock areas" and, as such, must be cited according to the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation.
For sustainable growth of a sheep operation a healthy flock and regular monitoring for parasites, body condition scoring, biosecurity and proper vaccination is needed. Links below provide the resources for important health related topics.
The Food Safe Farm Practices (FSFP) program is a nationally recognized on-farm food safety program developed by Canadian Sheep Federation. The FSFP program examines and outlines good production practices (GPP) designed to minimize food safety risks and to produce safe and high quality products. For more information about the Food Safe Farm Program for Sheep please visit the following link.
Following links will provide the information regarding the research topics on sheep production from different sources.