If you are new to sheep or goat farming or are considering getting a few animals for your farm, it’s normal to have several questions about proper procedure. One of the questions we get frequently is why sheep and goats wear bells. Many of our readers also want to know if these bells bothered them, so keep reading while we get to the bottom of these questions and more to help you be better informed.
The main reason sheep and goats wear bells is so that their owners can find them. Keep reading to learn more!
Why Do Sheep and Goats Wear Bells?
The primary reason that goats and sheep wear bells is so that farmers can find them. Pastures can be large, hilly, and covered with tall grass, so seeing every sheep and goat is not always easy. Bells help the farmers find out of sight animals and ensure none get lost.
Bells make it easy to find a single sheep, and they also make it easy to locate the entire herd. Without seeing their sheep or goats, farmers can tell that they are in the proper location by listening for the sound of their bells, and they can react quickly to any problems quickly thanks to information they can pick up from the bells.
You don’t always need to put a bell on an animal to protect it. Sometimes it’s to protect you. Rams can be aggressive and like to sneak up behind you and attack, which can hurt. If you place a bell on the ram, you will be able to hear it coming and can get out of the way.
Putting a bell on your sheep and goats can give you some insight and show what they’re doing when you can’t see them. The more the animal moves, the more the bell will jingle so you can tell if the herd is standing around and grazing or running to escape a predator. This sound can be a huge bonus if it is a predator, as you can quickly get into motion. The bill will also help you know when the herd moves too slowly to reach its destination on time.
Another good reason to put a bell on sheep or goats is to deter predators. Some bells are quite loud, especially when compared to the normal noise a sheep or goat makes, and it might be enough to scare away a dangerous predator. The sudden ringing can alert you to the danger.
If you use a herding dog to keep the sheep in position, there is a good chance the bell ringing will alert the dog to the danger so we can quickly get involved with protecting the animal. You can even train the dog to react to this type of ringing if it doesn’t do so naturally, making it one of the best reasons to put a bell around your sheep or goat’s neck.
Does It Annoy Sheep and Goats to Wear A Bell?
Unfortunately, there is no way to ask the goat or sheep how it feels about the bell. However, they don’t seem to mind, and it doesn’t change their behavior in any way. Some of the animals will dance around for a bit, shaking it as if trying to get it off, but they usually stop within a few minutes to an hour and then pay no further attention to it.
As long as the collar is not too tight and does not restrict their movement or breathing, it is perfectly safe for them to wear a bell. You’ll also want to ensure the bell is not too loud for your animals’ ears, which we will speak more about below.
How Tight Should the Collar Be?
You should be able to place your hand through the collar around your sheep or goat’s neck, but any looser and the collar may fall off.
What Type of Bell Should I Use?
You can use a wide variety of bells, and you can choose any as long as it’s durable and loud. We like the standard copper bells, but they work well and are fairly inexpensive. We recommend using the same kind for all your animals, especially if you’re using a herding dog.
While we want to find our animals from a distance, it’s important to ensure the bell isn’t too loud for the animals’ ears, and many owners worry that the animals can suffer hearing damage. While possible, farmers have been using bells for centuries with no evidence of hearing damage occurring or it would be well-publicized but using properly sized bells can help guarantee there’s no damage. Luckily, e-bells are becoming more popular, which provide farmers with a digital bell and GPS tracking that won’t affect the sheep’s hearing.
Goats wear bells primarily for protection, so farmers can find them easier and have more information about the flock. It lets the farmer know where the goat or sheep is even if it’s out of sight, and it can help protect them by alerting the herding dog it’s in danger. The animal doesn’t seem to mind the bell after wearing it for a few minutes, and the benefits are far-reaching.
Featured Image Credit: Nagib, Shutterstock