We all love to get out and enjoy nature and sometimes a walk through the pasture looks wonderful, but is it okay, especially if there are sheep in the field?
Is walking in the field with sheep common in your area?
Is walking in the field with sheep or other animals a common practice in your area? Around here, Ohio, it is not. All are welcome to walk down the road and look at the sheep, but not to go in with them.
Pros And Cons Of Sheep is my article that gives you a look at the common issues a flock owner need to be prepared for, this will give you some perspective on raising sheep from the shepherd’s point of view.
Are you trespassing by walking with the sheep?
Are you trespassing by walking with the sheep? This seems to depend upon the situation and the country that you live in.
For the U.K., there is the “right to roam”, but consider that it does not include interfering with other folk’s crops or livestock, which could be the case if you are in with sheep.
As a livestock farmer and landowner, I have a definite bias on this issue and am about to be what some may consider a bit preachy, in case you want to make a quick exit or skip down further.
Here’s the part that folks may not want to think about: along with rights come responsibilities, they are never separate, but all too often the responsibilities part gets glossed over or flat out forgotten.
Just as important as your right to roam (if the area you are in is set up this way) is your responsibility to know what is acceptable and what is not.
In this case, you need to have a basic understanding of sheep behavior and accept the risks and responsibilities that come along with choosing to go into that pasture.
Legality depends on country
The country where you live determines how walking on other people’s land is handled.
The laws also vary significantly from country to country, so if you are used to the right to roam and hike in a different area do not assume the rules you need to follow are the same as you were used to.
Get off my land! Who has the “right to roam” over farmland? by Rowberry Morris gives you the U. K. guidelines for hiking as well as swimming and dog walking.
Public land and private land are handled differently
The right to roam is not how things are done in the U.S. Around here, if it is public land you can be on it as specified and as long as you follow some basic rules.
Private land is a different story, for private land it is the other way around, you should figure that you are not allowed on it unless you ask first.
This is the part where, as a livestock farmer, there is a fence that keeps the sheep on our property. That fence is also a barrier to keep hikers and other folks out, whether walking or motorized.
The reason for this is that we make a living by taking care of the sheep and other livestock and part of our job is to provide a safe environment for the sheep to live in.
Other folks walking around makes the sheep nervous anytime it happens and can be flat out problematic at sensitive times like lambing.
Respect the sheep by staying out of their field
It is respectful of the sheep to stay out of their area, which in this case is the field.
The field for the sheep is just like your living room, you don’t want all manner of folks just walking on in and sitting on your couch! You would feel put out at best, more than likely a bit scared as well.
The sheep, since they are prey animals, rather than thinking things over, they will move directly into scared.
Scared sheep tend to overreact
From most folk’s point of view, sheep tend to overreact. Scared sheep do things they would normally not do, like trample lambs or hurt themselves, to get away from what they think of as a possible threat.
I’m sure that you are thinking that you would never hurt the sheep or you just want to spend some time outside and like the looks of the pasture they are in, all of which I understand but the sheep don’t.
Are Sheep Dangerous? is my article giving you examples of when sheep could harm people. It’s not often, but you should know about it before you can decide if it’s worth it to you to go into an area with sheep.
Sheep are sensitive to stress
The other problem with scared sheep is higher than normal stress, which, as we all know, causes all manner of problems with mid to long term health through out the body.
The reason stress is a big deal for the sheep is that one of the main weaknesses of sheep is their sensitivity to stress, it seems to be a bigger deal for sheep than it is for most livestock.
Is there a guardian dog with the flock?
An additional complication to being in the field with sheep is the guardian animals that are frequently in with the sheep, as well. In our area, this is normally a dog, but could be something else like a donkey.
The guardian dog is in with the sheep to keep predators out, and as far as the guardian is concerned, that means hikers, too.
It’s important to consider the guardian’s point of view here, if you are not a sheep or his owner, you should not be there.
This is instinctive and saves the flock from predation through out the year, but that same instinctive behavior is going to be activated when you are trotting on up to the flock, as well.
This will go double for your dog. Please take some time and think this through, you have more ability to reason than the guardian animal so it is up to you to sort this situation out before it becomes a problem.
The best way to avoid the situation all together is to not go in the area with the sheep to begin with.
Keep your dog out of the sheep field
Please keep your dog out of the sheep field!
I am a life long dog lover and take my dogs on walks daily, but never in with the sheep. It’s just too risky, worrying sheep is a terrible and destructive habit that I do not want to get started, so we stay out.
Even the most laid back pet can get quite a kick out of chasing around a few sheep, which may look like fun for the dog, but is actually very stressful to the sheep.
Respect the sheep and their owner by keeping your dog out of any field that has sheep.