A field of Herdwick sheep taken during a smallholder training course at South Yeo Farm West



“The course absolutely delivered: comprehensive, excellent pacing and discussion, and succinct. Also the best catering I have ever had on a course.” AFM, Somerset
“I feel inspired and a lot more knowledgeable, and can’t wait to get stuck in” KK, Wiltshire
“I honestly thought the course was superb. Mixing the indoor theory with the outdoor practice is great. The content is really broad and deep, but not too deep to be overwhelming.  I’d gladly recommend you to anyone thinking about or already with sheep.” DT, Hertfordshire
“I cannot overemphasise just how impressed and satisfied I was with the course, I was really blown away by the amount of information (in a good way); I never thought I would learn so much. I feel so inspired and empowered”. KU, Wales

Two Berkshire pigs with their front trotters resting on the top of a gate

Who would benefit from this course?

Are you thinking about taking on some sheep for the first time? Have you been inspired to raise sheep as grazers, or to produce fleece, your own meat or lambskins but aren’t sure what’s involved? Do you want to build knowledge and confidence in keeping sheep before taking the plunge? Perhaps you already have a few sheep but feel out of your depth or just want to know more? Unlike our allrounder Introduction to Smallholding course, this programme focuses entirely on what it means to have sheep.

Course content

This intensive two day course on sheep keeping will give you a solid grounding for getting started and up to speed with current good practice.  We will cover the essential topics of legal and statutory requirements, the shepherd’s year, tools and equipment, sheep handling, healthcare, breeding, lambing, land management & fencing for sheep, choosing your first sheep, selling meat boxes and more. There will be lots of time working with, handling and observing our different breeds of sheep and you’re encouraged to ask plenty of questions. Whether you are planning a flock of six sheep or 100, or already have a few and now know the topics you want answers to, this course aims to leave you feeling confident and appreciating the practicalities of living and working with sheep.


10.00 Start the day

  • Tea/coffee. Introductions: understanding your sheep keeping ambitions
  • The legal bits and associated paperwork for sheep
  • Sheep basics and the annual cycle
  • Tools and equipment: from dagging shears to handling equipment, weigh scales and trailers
  • Lunch
  • Sheep handling: moving, penning, handling for health checks, body condition scoring, weighing, teeth/tits/toes, foot care, dagging, tagging, dosing, injecting and more
  • Cream tea

5.00 Finish for the day


9.30 arrival

  • Tea / Coffee. Picking up on any outstanding questions
  • Sheep healthcare and medication, best practice for dealing with parasites
  • With the sheep: activity depending on what’s appropriate to the time of year; set up for lambing
  • Lunch: discussion: sourcing and deciding which breed of sheep
  • Breeding: rams/ram care, preparing for lambing, the lambing kit, lambing presentations, care/feeding of the in-lamb ewe and young lambs
  • Land management for sheep: grass management, fencing, water, grazing rotation, stocking rates, forage for winter feeding
  • Making the most of your produce: the abattoir, selling meat, fleece & skins
  • Cream tea and Q+A

4.45 Feedback and finish


COSTS: £225 per person including homemade lunch, Devon cream tea and refreshments on both days. There is a discount for multiple bookings for the same course date: £405 for two people, £600 for three people, £785 for four people etc. Our book The Complete Guide to Smallholding (one copy per booking) is also included which has detailed information about keeping sheep. Additional material is also provided.

Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 January 2024
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 February 2024
Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 May 2024
Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 September 2024
Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October 2024

BOOKING: Booking is simple. Just send us your name, address, phone number and email address indicating which course you want to book with your preferred date, and we’ll send you an invoice (payment is required in advance), directions to the farm and any other information you might need. And don’t forget to tell us if you have any dietary restrictions.

Accommodation: For those of you travelling some distance, we don’t provide overnight accommodation on the farm but you’ll find some lovely options close by, ranging from B&Bs to camp sites and seriously luxurious treats here.

Do bring: outdoor clothes, clean wellies, waterproofs and a change of clothes if it looks like rain.

Two Whitefaced Dartmoor lambs on the introduction to smallholding course at South Yeo Farm West
Weaner pigs in their outdoor pen taken during the introduction to sheep, pigs and cattle smallholding training course at South Yeo Farm West
Red Ruby Devon calf standing face to face with its mother and resting it's head on hers.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in having sheep, but their nature and Debbie’s passion shed new light and now I’ll look into having a local sheep breed”. GB, Essex
“Superb, couldn’t be better.  Totally well-thought through for Covid. Easy to negotiate, and beautiful food” BF, Somerset

South Yeo Farm West logo of a barn owl with the words forming a circle around it