One of the tricky things about caring for the health needs of sheep is that they can’t talk. They can’t say “It hurts here,” or “I have a headache,” or “Something’s not right with my digestion.” I can observe some health symptoms, such as lowered head, hunched back, lethargy, limping, diarrhea, or pain indicators in the face. However, other health issues may be asymptomatic, eventually leading to what appears to be an illness with quick onset.

Is there anything a shepherdess can do to increase the health of her flock and prevent disease? I am reading a handful of books right now that are helping me answer this question.
I trust that If I provide a healthy pasture filled with beneficial plants and provide for their mineral, water and shelter needs, that the sheep will thrive. There is a place for Western medicine (treating the symptoms and diseases with drugs) in treating animals, but I’m interested in a more intuitive, synergistic approach to supporting the health of my sheep.
While herbs are incredibly beneficial, I want to avoid using them like pharmaceuticals. “Oh, Bessy the sheep has a cough? Let’s boil some dandelion root with a pinch of dock.” I want to integrate the beneficial herbs into the pasture to allow “free choice” foraging. Part of me really wants to believe that there is something inside the sheep that draws them to take what they need from nature–nothing more, nothing less. By domesticating these animals and removing them from their natural, fence-free environment, I have the responsibility to fill the pasture with a diverse mix of plants that will round out their nutritional needs and support their range of body functions (including the increased needs of breeding, pregnant and lactating ewes, as well as lambs during their first year.)