Farmers have used sheep housing for many years for many reasons – lower feeding costs and nutritional requirements, higher survival rate for newborn lambs, and increased animal welfare are some of the top reasons.
A Sheep House Polytunnel is a popular, economical alternative to traditional livestock housing, particularly as planning permission is not usually required, when housing is needed quickly and on a budget, and for farmers on rented land.
But working out what size of sheep house you need can be confusing.
According to the DEFRA Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (Sheep), space allowance and group size for housed sheep should be determined by the age, size and class of livestock. For example, it is recommended that hill ewes, weighing 45-65kg, each have 1.0-1.2 m2 floor space during pregnancy, whereas lowland ewes, weighing 60-90kg, should each have 1.2-1.4 m2 floor space during pregnancy.
Once the lambs are born, the recommended space allowances increase. Hill ewes with lambs up to six weeks old should have 1.8-2.0 m2 floor space per ewe and lambs, and lowland ewes with lambs up to six weeks old should have 2.0-2.2 m2 floor space.
Lambing is the most important time of year for sheep farmers and their ewes, and although adult sheep can stand the cold UK weather, newborn and young lambs can struggle in the cold and rain. The survival rate of lambs is higher when they are housed and sheltered from both the elements and predators.
DEFRA’s recommendations for space allowances for lambs changes as the lambs get older and bigger. For young lambs up to 12 weeks old, it is recommended that each lamb has 0.5-0.6 m2 floor space. For lambs and sheep from 12 weeks to one year old, the space allowance should be 0.75-0.9 m2 floor space per lamb/sheep.
So that’s ewes and lambs covered, but what about rams? Well, DEFRA recommends that each ram has 1.5-2.0 m2 floor space if they are housed.
Still confused about what size of sheep house you need? The space allowance ‘rules’ are a lot to take in and so, taking DEFRA’s guidelines into consideration, we have calculated the average number of sheep that could be housed in each size of our Sheep House Polytunnels.
The smallest of our sheep house range, namely the 16ft wide x 30ft long, is ideal for housing a small flock of 37 pregnant ewes in open house. In comparison, the largest size of 30ft wide x 90ft long could house up to 208 pregnant ewes in open house.
For ewes with two lambs kept in an open house, the maximum number to be housed is approximately two thirds of the number of pregnant sheep in an open house.
When calculating the average number of ewes with two lambs held in pens inside a sheep polytunnel, we have allowed for a 7ft wide central access passage. In accordance with the recommended space allowances, 13 ewes with two lambs in pens could be housed in a 16ft wide x 30ft long structure. Inside our largest sheep polytunnel, the 30ft wide x 90ft long, 90 ewes with two lambs could be comfortably housed in pens.
Our Sheep House Polytunnels are available in a number of widths and lengths. For information about the maximum number of sheep to be housed in each size of structure, contact the Sales Team or download our price list here. Our recommendations are for guidance only – there are many considerations to take into account, such as the size and breed of sheep, age of lambs, and trough space.