Sheep have a lower purchase price than cattle and their smaller size means that you can gain more hands-on experience working with animals in a safe manner.

For flocks of 50 ewes or more, a purpose-built sheep handling yard helps you safely carry out all management tasks with sheep, such as footbathing, dosing, dipping and drafting for sale.

Let’s take a look at some top tips for designing your sheep yard.


Choose a site that is close to the existing farmyard or where the sheep normally graze. A sheltered site that is on flat or gently sloping ground is perfect.

You should also choose a sight that is close to a power source, a water source and that has good access for a jeep and trailer or a lorry to load and transport sheep.

2Holding pen

The holding pen should be rectangular in shape and ideally be funnelled towards the forcing pen. The holding pen can be built to hold all or part of the flock.

3Forcing pen

Forcing pens are usually circular, with two gates hung off a centre pillar. The forcing pen should be designed to force sheep towards the dipping tub, footbath or race. The floor of the forcing pen should be concrete and sloped away from the dipping tub.

4Drafting/handling race

A race is a long narrow chute that can be used for routine work such as dosing and vaccinating. A race can also be fitted with drafting gates that allow you to split sheep in to different groups e.g when separating lambs from ewes.


A footbath can be a part of the drafting race or it can be a batch footbath (a pen with a sunken floor to allow animals to stand in a footbathing solution).

A good feature to include in a footbath is to split it in two, with one half filled with clean water to clean the sheep’s feet before entering the half which contains the footbath solution.

6Dipping tub

A dipping tub is a great addition to any sheep yard to allow sheep to be dipped to prevent blowfly strike and sheep scab. Dipping tubs are usually 1.1m in depth and rectangular in shape. They should be placed beside the forcing pen and covered with a childproof cover when not in use.

7Draining yard

This is a sloped yard that allows freshly dipped sheep to stand and let the excess dip from their fleece drain back in to the dipping tub through a channel and a filter.

Did you know?

A ewe’s fleece can hold up to 40l of water when she is dipped, which is why it’s important to collect all this excess dipping solution.

You don’t need all of the above when starting out with your sheep yard, but it’s important to plan it out at the beginning if you plan on increasing your flock, or if you want to add on additional pens or features.