Sheep who are healthy are happy sheep. There is a balancing of nutrition, care and expenses. Once a sheep is healthy, the work is maintaining the health.
Sheep that are not fed well, underweight or not receiving the nutrients needed, will get sick more often. In my own experience, sheep that were a little underweight were the ones with more internal parasites, and needed more deworming. Once I balanced the feed and nutrients with the quantity of feed being offered, my sheep gained weight and the problem with internal parasites became very low.
Nutrients, not all hay has the same nutrients as other hay. And when purchasing supplement feeds the nutrients may not balance the nutrients in the hay.
I noticed a big difference in my sheep when I started buying sheep feed from a local feed mill that balanced their brand of sheep feed with the locally grown hay. My sheep gained weight on less supplemental feed. Hay grown in my area is not enough to meet the nutritional needs of my sheep. While it is good to keep open ewes in condition, it does not add the extra nutrients needed to grow lambs or for lambs to grow at a good rate.
I tried protein/mineral tubs, major brand sheep feeds and the expense to keep my ewes in top condition for breeding and lambing was high. I had higher number of internal parasites meaning I had to deworm more often.
Genetics has some to do with how well a sheep will perform on the feed given as well as internal parasite. But keeping the minerals and vitamins balanced helps the sheep utilize the feed better.
I still have free choice mineral and salt available. The sheep eat more minerals and salt in the hot months than they do in the cold months.
How do you know if your sheep are getting what they need?
One is by the condition of the sheep, determining how much fat they have on their bodies. You can have a fat sheep, but not a truly healthy sheep.
Look at the fleece or hair on your sheep. The fleece should be soft, flexible and have lanolin.
The hooves of the sheep also tell if they are receiving enough of minerals and vitamins by the growth and strength of the hoof.
A healthy, happy sheep will bounce at times. Even my oldest ewes heavy with lambs, will bounce in the morning when I let them out to pasture or bring their feed in the winter.
A sheep that is healthy, having all their nutritional needs met, will show you they are happy.