As with our other livestock, we started with sheep books before we started with our sheep. And as we've seen in other livestock groups, we have found there are a tremendous number of books out there talking about sheep, some of which are better than others. The collection below is by no means exhaustive. But these sheep books are the best that we've found. If you have questions about lamb production, wool production, fencing, diet, reproduction, even sheep dairying, these books will provide answers. We hope you enjoy browsing the collection!
Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep by Paula Simmons
This is the fourth edition of one of the sheep world's bibles. Paula Simmons has written extensively about sheep, along with the rediscovered arts of spinning and weaving home-grown wool. I bought one of her previous editions of this book while I was still living in a tiny apartment, looking forward to the day when I'd have my own flock. That day came a number of years ago but I still reference that book. This recently updated edition will find a lot of use on your farm (or in your apartment) as well. A classic amongst sheep books.
The Sheep Book by Ronald B. Parker
I stumbled across this sheep book in a used bookstore some years ago, and bought it after camping in the bookstore aisle for a good half hour reading various sections. It provided much of the same information as the books I already had, but as always this particular shepherd had unique insights and guidance, borne of many years' experience. I still pull this book off the shelf when I need information or guidance when somehow the other books don't quite answer my questions. A good book to start with, or to expand your Sheep book library.
Natural Sheep Care by Pat Coleby
Pat Coleby is an Australian writer who has kept, and written about, natural livestock care for a number of years. Natural care is not merely about avoiding antibiotics; it is about finding ways to optimize your livestock's nutritional program as comprehensive, and as efficient, as possible. By optimizing nutrition, many (if not most) of today's major livestock health issues can be minimized or eliminated. We use many of the principles given in this book, adjusted for our location in the Pacific Northwest as compared to Coleby's Australia. A very good reference, and a refreshing alternative to chemical livestock management.
Sheep by Sue Weaver
Sue Weaver is a frequent contributor to several livestock lists I am currently on. Her information is both thorough and well-advised. She addresses a variety of specific dietary and health care issues that other sheep books either gloss over, or treat with outdated information. Her years of experience shine through. I'm very glad to see a contemporary livestock discussion listmember sharing her wisdom in this manner.
Practical Sheep Dairying by Olivia Mills
Sheep dairying was once practiced on a cultural level only. Recent years have seen a growing interest not only in dairy sheep but particularly in cheeses made from sheep milk. This book is one of the few I could find that focused on managing sheep for dairy production. It is an older text but it still provides a great deal of useful information.
In Sheep's Clothing by Nola Fournier
My first interest in sheep was thanks to my interest in handspinning. I started handspinning many years ago, and it seemed magical to me to go from the fleece to the dyed roving to the spindle to the yarn. But finding all that information in one place was a challenge. This book offers both a historical review of wool's conversion into yarn, along with specific information about many sheep breeds' wool characteristics. A very handy book, whether you want to know how all these tools came to be, or which breed would better serve your handspinning goals.
Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven
There are a great number of spinning books available now, and everyone has their own. This particular book is well regarded as being in that sweet spot between providing enough detailed information to be useful, without getting too bogged down in details to be clumsy. While not actually providing information on sheep care, it is a worthy addition to the library of the aspiring, or accomplished, hand spinner.
A Lambing Season in Ireland by Maria Coffey
This is not a how-to book by any measure. Rather, it is similar to veterinarian James Herriot's series about veterinary care in Great Britain. In this particular book, a non-sheep person accompanies her veterinarian husband on various farm calls in Ireland. Her storytelling captures not only the joy and heartbreak of lambing season anywhere, but also the charming people, language and culture of Ireland's rural areas. New shepherds will learn some of the things that can go wrong, and right, during lambing season. Experienced shepherds will recognize in these stories, chapters from their own flocks. If you're just looking for some way to immerse yourself in small farm life, this is an excellent way to do so while letting someone else do all the work.