Backyard sheep / goats

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by pittstx, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. pittstx

    pittstx New Member

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    Hi all , new here
    I have a house on ten acres in Northeast Texas and not enough time or money to buy equipment to keep up with the weeds / brush. I was thinking about a couple of sheep and a couple of goats to use as lawn mowers. I know nothing about taking care of livestock .
    My land is not fenced and was wondering about a moveable electric fence so I could move the animals from one area to another.
    I have no family or friends to help me with this so any suggestions and advise would be appreciated .
    Thanks
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I've heard good things about the Premier fences - they have highly portable ones as well as permanent fences at reasonable prices.

    Things to consider here: sheep need to be sheared, whether or not you'll use the wool. They are wonderful grazers and will keep your grass mowed down, but they do take a bit of work now and then. Worming, shearing, trimming hooves (when they're sheared, usually).

    Goats don't normally get sheared. They are more browsers than grazers, but I've recently caught mine grazing the new grass...They start high and work their way down to the ground when the rest is gone. Their hooves need to be trimmed every six weeks or so, to prevent hoof rot and injuries from over-growth, just like our fingernails.

    If keeping them strictly for this purpose, they don't need a whole lot more in the way of feed - LOTS of water, minerals and salt, and pasture in the summer - but PLEASE double check the area to be sure there aren't poisonous or toxic plants out there...it would be a shame to lose your new livestock to something unseen out there. If you intend to use them for other thigns (IE breeding for meat or milk) then more careful nutrition and time and investments would probably need to be made. Also consider wintering - is this an issue or do you get pasture with green grass and new growth all year round there? (if so, I think I'm envious!)

    Consider protection from predators - loose/stray dogs, coyotes, predator cats, etc...I don't know what your area holds, but a livestock guard dog may or may not be needed. I understand that the premier fences can help tremendously with predator protection too (I'm looking into getting one, but not for that purpose).

    Okay - experts - your turn! What did I miss? I'm no expert on breeds so what would be the hardiest ones to have in that area?

    -Sarah
     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sheep graze a little better than goats, goats eat brush far better. If you can use the wool or sell it locally it might help pay the meds bill, if its totally useless look at the hair sheep. Goats jump over, crawl under, teleport through fences, sheep will go under high fence or will push on a weak point but are far easier to keep in. Mixing the two is a bit tricky as sheep can not have copper in the mineral mix. If all you want is lawn mowers your choices are pretty open. Some sheep need more hoof care, than others. Dorsets are great but need those feet trimmed often. Suffolks are pretty hardy have good feet but can be a little pushy. Consider what else you might want with these animals.
     
  4. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    Ross is referring to wool sheep. Hair and primitive sheep browse more than graze but do both, and do not require shearing if you are not into that, and tend to be more resistant to parasites, hoof rot etc.

     
  5. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you don't like or want sheep or goats, don't get them. If you visit with them every day and bring them treats, you will be able to see if there are any problems, and bringing them to the shearer will be much easier. If you ignore them, they could be dead before you notice a problem, and you will have comedic adventures trying to herd them where you want them to go.

    My sheep get their hooves trimmed once a year when they are shorn. The shearer said he noticed white hooves seem to need more trimming than black hooves, so maybe this is why.

    An alternative for you may be to buy weanlings when your acreage is growing well, grow the lambs through the good growth season, then butcher them when everything dies. You would not need to deal with breeding, delivery, or feeding them when the "pasture" is dried out.

    BTW, sheep do need copper, but much less than cattle or equines. You will, of course give them a mineral supplement (salt).
     
  6. I have two Suffolk sheep (actually they think they are dogs!!) and they are great pets who earn their keep. We origionally got them as little bitty lambs for a 4H project but at that point we didn't realize they were "meat" sheep so now they are pets - yes I am a pathetic sucker - but they have the cutest eyelashes!! Any way, as for mowing they are awesome - they move over the whole yard area (where the nice grass is) and then move off to the pasture/field areas. However, they LOVE fruit trees (and their bark) and roses!! So these will need to be protected. They also LLLLOOOOVVVEEE decks. I have had to threaten leg of lamb for dinner many times!! We have 37 unfenced acres and the sheep never go out of our yard or into the street. They are protected from the coyotes by their two best friends - our heeler mixes. The dogs are always with them and they play so cute. (You should see a two hundred pound sheep bounding around sideways in a "Bad Attack") Our sheep are very affectionate and spoiled as they have been my "puppies" since they were 8 weeks old. I shear them myself - it takes two hours for me to do one, but it's kindof fun. I also trim their hooves and clean them up a bit - just once a year in late spring. I feed them a leaf of alfalfa twice a day and ~8 qts of three way grain once a day. I give them wormer and they have a mineral salt lick. They are well fed and fluffy and they do their job in return!! good luck in what ever your choice turns out to be!! Kimmer
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Maura all living animals need copper but sheep can not void copper well so as a general rule you avoid giving it in a mineral mix. You wouldn't notice a problem until it is too late, under stress or illness the copper which has accumulated in the liver is released in fatal doses. There is copper in most feed, in fact hay or pasture from land heaviy fertilized in hog manure can build up too much copper in the plant growth, making it unsuitable for feeding to sheep. That said if you feed a molasas feed you are feeding a high copper feed, but it is usually safe for sheep as a feedstuff. I knew a very well run sheep farm that avoided copper like the plauge and did run into a deficency problem for copper but its pretty rare in most parts. Without doing some lab work on adult sheep livers you can't really know how much is too much in your ration and mineral suppliment. I wouldn't recomend feeding anything but a sheep formulated no copper added mineral to sheep without the vet work to back up the need for extra copper.
     
  8. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    8 quarts of grain a day for two sheep? That sounds like a lot to me, is it?
     
  9. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Yeah...I was feeding my ewe on a *pregnancy* ration at about *2* quarts per day and cut that back slowly after the lambs were born until we completely cut it out when they went to pasture. Is that what Kimmer meant? 8 *cups*?? 8 quarts seems awfully high...I'd think they'd start to get fat...

    -Sarah
    (nowhere near an expert here so I could be wrong!)
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I'm not sure what 3 way grain is but if its corn oats and bran, and heavy on the bran then I could see the volume. Lots of opinions on feeding thats for sure. I use the term hay knowing I mean a mixed grasses and legume hay running 12%. Others could mean 2nd cut pure alfalfa, running 18-21% protein! Still others may think wild reed canary is "hay" and would be feeding a poor quality high alcyloid (near toxic) forage! There are palatable canary grasses too.
     
  11. kimmee

    kimmee New Member

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    OOps!! :eek: This is me "unregistered" only I have a name now!! Yes, I meant 8 CUPS not quarts - Sorry, it's a blonde thing....
     
  12. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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  13. Saying sheep need copper, for the more primitive breeds is like saying people need arsenic. Arsenic is an essential mineral for people in a few metabolic pathways, but we get more than an adequate amount in our diet, such that nobody should be taking supplements. Same goes for certain breeds of sheep who get adequate copper in their grazing, and cant metabolically get rid of excess. Check with your particular breeders and local Ag extention officer prior to giving copper to sheep
     
  14. Good grief, if you are really feeding two sheep 8 quarts of grain a day, you are going to make them so fat they won't be able to move! With the pasture and alfalfa, 8 cups would be more like it..
     
  15. pittstx

    pittstx New Member

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    Thanks for all the information .
    I'll have to find out if anybody around here buys wool and if not I'll have to try a couple of hair sheep ,that is if I can find where to buy them. There is a farm store not far from here where they should know who as sheep.
    What does a sheep consider to be a treat ? I want to be able to get close to them without them running from me.
    Are those teleporting goats the ones that make the crop circles ?
     
  16. sistertwo

    sistertwo New Member

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    I have one pet sheep - he really needs a friend! As for treats... attention is a treat for him he loves grazing around me as I work in the yard. He loves the leaves on the pecan tree and he loves popcorn! ( I am sure I should not feed him that...). When I bought him I bought some lamb/goat feed. I fed him a handful when I went to see him several times a day. That serves as a treat for him as well. My guy is a sheep dog. He acts just like the dogs greeting visitors, chasing the cats (they love it!). He generally stays around the yard - however he has developed an affection for my neighbors soybean field - he likes the bean plants - but eats as many or more weeds. He keeps the area around the fence clean and does not give the dandelions a chance.
    I have been well pleased with him- as I said he needs a friend, they are herd animals and should have a buddy.
    Good Luck!
     
  17. 8 cups is still too much (ok depending on your breed) I only give about a half a cup grain per sheep and all the pasture / hay they want
     
  18. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    If you ignore the goats and sheep, they will definitely get into trouble. We don't have any cows, but that would be the way to go. When we bought our land a local farmer grazed cows with nothing more than rebar and a strand of wire. The cattle knew better than to try to get out. Our goats will find a way out of the fencing if there is one available. Sheep are timid creatures who don't stand a chance against coyotes or dogs.