Anyone show?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by kesoaps, May 21, 2005.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to get a dairy sheep section in our local fair for the 4-Hers. I'm wondering, though, about wool length. For the wool breeds they're asked to have 90 days growth, for meat they want them slick sheared. Makes sense on a dairy ewe to have her fairly wool free, but at the same time the goal is to have a 3-pay animal, so while wool may not be as important as carcass it should still come into play. (On my sheep, at least.)

    So what do you think? 90 days on a Romney is a pretty good length of wool, but not so much on a Suffolk (who tends to be more along the milking type.) Is it still possible to see your sheep's body type with 90 days growth? Is her udder still easily seen/attended to? Or should I just forgo the wool when it comes to judging a type class like this?
     
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    I'm not going to be a lot of help as I know nothing about showing sheep and even less about dairy breeds but it might spur others into answering. I wouldn't call either the Romney or the Suffolk milk breeds - the Romney is bred for wool and carcase, the Suffolk for carcase. Perhaps if you want to get into this seriously, you need to have a look around at what people are milking. There are a few milking sheep flocks here but I forget what they are. I can find out if you wish. Bear in mind though that milk production will be at the expense of either wool or carcase, and more likely wool, with a middle of the road carcase. I really think that a dairy section would have to be just that - wool and carcase not being part of the picture otherwise it would be like trying to judge a Jersey cow against a Hereford - and there is no comparison as they are both bred for completely different reasons.

    I have mostly cross-bred Romenys and three months after shearing it is quite possible to see body type, conformity, udder etc.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     

  3. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for answering, Ronney. No, they're not milk breeds, but they're plentiful here :) And the goal is to get the kids thinking in another direction. Dorsets are pretty popular, and have been used for milk, so I expect to see more of them.

    I ran into a woman not far from us who raises the East Freisians, she offered to help us as she's implemented a program in her county. However, after countless calls and emails with no answer, I've written her off and have returned to square one.

    Incedentally, the meat breeds do milk out pretty well, just not quite as much as the commercial milkers would need. But for home use they're great!
     
  4. SmokedCow

    SmokedCow Well-Known Member

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    We show....i don't think im getting what your asking. But then again, we dont do "milk" sheep....our state doesnt even have milk sheep. I've never really ever heard of milk sheep untill i came here, about a year ago. If you have any questions..feel free to ask. I'm on and off!
    AJ
     
  5. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Basically, AJ, I need the udder to be visible for the judge since that's going to be a big part of judging. Clean legs, clean udder...so I'm trying to decide if the animals should be slick sheared for judging or not to give the judge a better opportunity to see what kind of package she's got ;) I've been wondering if I should ask that there be 90 days of fleece, as with a wool breed, so that the wool can be considered in the criteria.

    I've got a couple ewes that get way too wooly to see the udder, and of course they're not a dairy breed, but there really aren't many here so the kids who are interested will likely make due with whatever they've got.

    I think I've just answered my own question, though :rolleyes: Since I want something that will produce a commercial wool, and many dairy sheep do, there really is no reason she needs to be shorn slick if she's clean legged and the udder is visible. (Right?? Ugh, it's tough trying to write judging criteria!)
     
  6. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    We show our wool breeds. We raise Suffolk and Hampshire as well... I guess I can't be of any help as I have never heard of any of these breeds being judged for their milk, I have read this post again and still dont understand it, I guess because I dont think of these breeds being looked at for their meat, and their wool, and their milk - I guess I think of my dairy goats in terms of milk...
    There is a class that judges one breed in its meat, milk, and wool?
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    :haha: Obviously I'm having trouble communicating...

    Livestockmom, currently our county fair offers kids these three categories for their sheep: Meat, Wool, and Dual Purpose.

    I milk my sheep. I want a dairy sheep category for my daughter and a few other kids who will be milking as well. Ultimately, I'd like people here to be thinking in terms of commercial milk sales for sheeps milk cheese, this is just a starting point for getting folks thinking in that direction. If there are dairy cows, and dairy goats...why not dairy sheep?

    Am I still as clear as mud? LOL! I've got type guidelines, just was stuck on how long the wool should be (90 days or slick sheared.)
     
  8. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    wow, I get it now, no, you were being quite clear, its just me trying to think outside of meat and wool...which is exactly your point isnt it? getting folks to see that sheep milk has a place....
    okay, I have to ask... do you milk every 12 hours like our dairy goats? Do they go to a stand to be milked? I know it must vary, but how much milk can they give in a milking? Can you make Sheep soap? Now you have really peaked my interest!
     
  9. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I milked a half wild ewe a couple summers ago for a batch of soap (a soapmakers milk soap challenge...I got sheep!) When I began studying the properties of sheep milk, I knew I had to have them! Sheep milk is actually higher in protiens, vitamins and nutrients than even goat milk, although the margin is slight in most areas. From what I've heard, it tends to be a bit sweeter in taste than goat.

    For milking, yes, you do it every 12 hours, and you use the same equipment as for goats (milking from behind.) I milked Dolly last year once a day and got a quart per milking. There's not as much to hold onto as with a goat on her, but she's not a milk breed (my hands would get tired each time I milked, I probably could've gotten more.) Icelandics have great big udders and teats, and East Freisians are the Holstein of the sheep world, both would give more than Dolly. The fat content is 50% higher than cow so you need only half the milk. (It's a wee bit higher than goat, as well, but not by such a large margin.)

    So....are you wanting to start milking those sheep? :haha:
     
  10. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    You Betcha! :haha:

    Im all done with lambing now and my ewes I have dried off and have gotten into condition for breedeing, you can bet i'm going to milk - some of my girls had huge amounts of milk and are so sweet and gentle - I will definetley give it a try...I don't know why that didnt occure to me as I milk them of colostrum when they have quads so I can be sure each one got an ounce for every pound of birth weight.... do you pasturize it?
    Thanks so much!
     
  11. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    A quart per milking? Good Golly Dolly! :haha: what breed is she?
     
  12. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    Having been a 4-H sheep superintendant at our county fair for many years (although whew! blessedly in the past), I've seen all kinds of ideas come and go. It's hard enough judging apples against apples, let alone judging mixed fruit salad! I think I'd recommend that you do some research to see if milking sheep are shown at the Open Class level anywhere (you'll probably have to look at Canada or Europe), and follow their lead. You will want to have a "milking ewe class" judged separately. As with other dairy animals, conformation will be important, but udder size and attachment, teat placement, etc. will trump the rest. When I mentally picture milking any animal, I think about cleanliness. Think about the washing and teat-dipping that goes on in a bovine dairy! I bet if you were to Google "dairy sheep" you would eventually find references to standards of wool trim for milking cleanliness. I would almost expect to see the sheep kept "crutched" (rear end, inner thighs, udder and immediate belly kept wool-free). That, plus a breed-appropriate length for the rest of the fleece would probably provide the most reasonable fit for show.

    When you judge "dual breeds" for meat and carcass, any experienced judge is capable of looking at the count, crimp, luster and consistency of a fleece, and then judging the carcass under it by feel for correctness, backsaddle, etc. It gets tricky, though, when the class includes widely divergent breeds, where one may sacrifice structure for phenomenal wool while another has less valuable wool but is producing super carcass lambs. How much weight to give each side to pick a winner? Try to add milk to the whole mix, and you've got too many variables.

    Does your fair include a separate class for "ewes with records?" Ours has that, and it takes into account the on-paper production value of the animal instead of just how it compares physically on show day. For example, a ewe that has consistently produced and raised triplets may look a little work-weary and place lower than a ewe whose easier life has left her straighter over the topline, but in "Ewes with records" she'll win because the combined added value from her lamb production in addition to her wool clip is higher. Add milk to that kind of a mix, and the milking animals will definitely get their due reward.

    Hope this all made sense.
    Susan
     
  13. woolyfluff

    woolyfluff Well-Known Member

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    here is a web site of people in you state that might be interested in helping go to this web site click on you state Icelandic sheep .com these are show,milk heavy wool sheep maybe this will help
     
  14. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Susan, your info is most helpful! There doesn't seem to be any showing of dairy ewes that I can find. It's such a new concept, even among sheep breeders, although no one seems surprised to find sheep cheese :p

    I did manage to find seleciton guidelines used by a Great Lakes area dairy which I'll be working from. There was quite a bit of udder talk, just as you describe. Clean legs and wool free udder are a neccessity, which got me to thinking after I'd posted here that wool length wouldn't be such an issue if the ewe's udder is wool free. For ewes that are wool breeds, but good milkers (Icelandics), it seems they ought to show as a wool breed with a bit of length. Crutching continually for milking would be a pain, I'd think, but do-able. Perhaps a mark-down on the judging if it falls into the category.

    Woolyfluff, thanks for the link! I need to check it out.

    Livestock mom, Dolly is a dorset...or so they tell me that's what her breeders raised (I'm owner #3.) However, she's got a dark face and legs. No doubt a suffolk hiding out in the thicket :haha: She gave me the nicest babies this year. It's just my second year lambing, and my experienced mentor was out of town for the first couple weeks after she'd lambed. I'd so desperately wanted to keep one of the boys a ram, but didn't want to if they weren't as nice as I thought. Guess what? She thought the little black was was a very nice lamb...sniff. Oh well, next year. At least I feel I can trust my eye now!