We have a few basic rules/tips for making friends with sheep:

1-Get on their level, crouch or kneel, even sit down with them, you will find them much more relaxed and willing to come up to you. Its scary having a big tall person towering over you after all!

2-No sudden movements! Make sure you move Lowell and are gentle, don't grab at them or chase after them, they will run away, sheep are flight animals and spook easily.

3-Food! Feed you sheep by hand, they will soon start to love you and whilst you are feeding them keep attempting to stroke and touch them, they will soon get used to you and being touched.

4-Fuss, scratches and cuddles! There is nothing like having you chin and belly scratches (well if you are a sheep that is!), even the most elusive sheep can be won over once she realises people make for a good scratching post, after all that wool must get itch from time to time!


If you buy sheep from us, either lambs or our adult sheep, they will be used to people or more specifically to us, I can go and sit in the field with our flock and they will start to gather round me in a circle, standing waiting for me to scratch their chins and bellies, they will shove each other out of the way and compete for attention. Once you start scratching their soft spots their faces go all droopy and they stand their half asleep, I'm sure they would stand there all day if I would! And if i stop they start pawing me, as if saying 'come on, why'd you stop?' and they continue to paw until I give them attention again.

But they aren't like this with everybody, they know me and my face, same as they know other people in our family and friends, people they trust. You have to give sheep time to get to know you, and you have to keep giving them attention, other wise they stop being so friendly. But they don't forget.

So if you buy lambs or other sheep from us, you will need to give them a bit of time to settle and get used to you before you can enjoy the same bond with them. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes weeks and sometimes months.

There are however ways to help gain, maybe even buy their affection! One of which comes as no surprise, through their belly! Yep you can win them over with food, no question, its one of the best ways to get them used to you and they will soon realise you ain't so bad! Start off with a bucked with a handful of sheep nuts in it, and rattle it, the sheep should come running! See if they will take the food from you hand, if they will great! Keep hand feeding them, rather that chucking food in a trough, get them to associate you directly with the food and talk to them at the same time, perhaps associate a word with the food, as sheep do learn to come when called. If they won't take if from you hand see if they will take if from the bucket and gradually progress to giving it them by hand. If they are too nervous to come up to the bucket you can place the food in a trough or on the ground but stay close by, sit next to the buckets/food, so you are rewarding them for coming to you and talk to them and gradually progress with the above steps. Once they will take food from you hand you are well on you way to doing anything with them.

Now another way to get them used to people very quickly is putting a halter on them. you will probably need to confine the sheep to a small pen. And I would suggest crouching/kneeling down, taking hold firmly of the sheep and them progress to put the halter on. I wouldn't turn sheep out in a field wearing a halter, like people do with foals and horses, with a sheep this is probably just a recipe for disaster! Unless you field is free from barbed wire fences and any sort of shrubs/trees/brambles or other objects, don't leave the halter on them. Once you have you halter on, (or you can use a collar instead) you will probably find if its the sheeps first time wearing one he/she will leap about in protest. The do vary though, and the more friendly and older you sheep is to begin with, the calmer they are first time on the halter, some pick it up first attempt (when food is involved of course)! 


Some Tips for Halter Training:

1-Keep the lead short, don't allow the sheep to leap about and drag you around!

2-Begin stroking them and getting them used to being approached by you and touched by you.

3-Have a pocked full of sheep nuts. And offer then a tiny amount by hand, so they realise you have something good on you. But only give them the food when they are standing still.

4-Regards to the above, reward good behaviour! So standing still and not jumping about/pulling back or trying to get away, is good behaviour and warrants some sheep nuts :)

5-Pressure and release! So when you tug/pull on the rope towards you, if the sheep takes a step in that direction you release the pressure instantly! And can reward that with some sheep nuts, just a few mind!

6-You can even hold out your hand with the food in to help encourage them to keep walking with you, they will soon be following you around everywhere!

7-Once they are more settled/happy with the halter sit with them and scratch their chin/belly and fuss and cuddle them, once the realise how nice it is they will get to like you even more.


Important things to remember:

1-Not every sheep is the same. They all have very different personalities! Some sheep are full of themselves, very confident or inquisitive where as others are naturally shy, jumpy and some would rather just eat grass and sleep than know you.

2-Age. When sheep are young (especially after they have been weaned off their mums, in that first year) they are always much more jumpy, nervous and flighty. Its like with any young animals, be it horses or dogs, they are inexperienced and used to following mum, so take that way and they will of course be much more nervous and spook easily. Confidence comes with age and experience, so make sure your sheep receive positive experience from you and with time they will settle and relax around you more.

3-Company. Our sheep are born into a big flock, they grow up with many other lambs and adult sheep around them. They move and think as a flock, they don't have to make decisions for themselves, they follow each other and they gain confidence or fear from each other. They are much happier being kept in groups of 4 or more, they naturally feel more relaxed this way. If you take 2 or 3 lambs or sheep away from the big flock they will undoubtedly become nervous just from the fact they are in a little group. If you intend to buy just 2 or 3 lambs from us be prepared for this and to be patient, they will take more time to settle and get their confidence back.

4-You. A lot depends on you, how you are with the sheep, how you handle them, how much time you spend with them, how calm and gentle you are around them. You have to put in time if you want your sheep to be really friendly, but it is very rewarding and well worth it.


And finally:

Like I said above, once your sheep are used to you, and trust you, you can start to sit with them, either just out in the field or inside, or when you have them on the halter. And start scratching round their chins, neck and between their front legs, even their belly! Like how most horses have a soft spot and will stand and pull silly faces when scratched, sheep are very much the same! The will start to groom you back sometimes, and they too will pull funny faces out of enjoyment, once you can do that with them they are well and truly won over! We sit and do this with our lambs, so they are used to it from a young age and they remember it for life, you just have to let them trust you like they trust us, its much easier to tame a sheep from a young age, and they accept it much quicker and better. But you will find that all sheep are different, at the end of the day some are really only interested in you for the food, and others are real fuss monsters and just love human interaction, where as some will tolerate and get used to you but at the end of the day would rather just be nibbling grass!