Breed recommendations: heritage sheep, small size, 6 acres

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by frazzlehead, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    I live in Northern Alberta : warm summers, cold winters, lots of hay available.

    I'd like to have a small flock of one of the 'heritage breeds' - the older, unimproved breeds just feel like a better fit with my space and management style (such as it is - meaning I'd like them to be reasonably good at looking after themselves, although of course I'm not saying I'd ignore them!).

    Wool or dual purpose, not just meat. Not hair.

    Anyone got suggestions?

    I'm partial to the Black Welsh Mountain, and the Icelandic at the moment. Maybe Shetland.

    Anyone got stories to tell? :)
     
  2. backtotheland

    backtotheland Well-Known Member

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    I'm partial to Icelandics. They are used for their wool (which I love), meat and milk. I purchased mine from a Monastery in Otego, New York. I started out with three and before I picked them up I had five, one was pregnant. I did leave them there, actually they are still there waiting for me to get fence up if it ever stops raining in NYS, waiting for the babies as I have never had to deal with helping a ewe deliver. The Sister called me the day after the little ones were born and told me that she could tell Fauna was about ready and she went back to the house to get her "ewe doctor bag" and when she came back about five minutes later she said one was already on the ground being cleaned. A few minutes later Fauna shook her hips back and fourth a couple of times and there came the next one. These sheep are very, very self-sufficient. I asked her about grain and she said she feeds them maybe a handful as a treat. I can't wait to get them home and start working with them and spoiling them rotten.

    A friend has Shetlands, which is what I was going for but couldn't find any, and she loves them. They are smallish and pretty sel-sufficient also.

    Another friend has Finns but they are a little larger but very, very personable. When I help feeding them if they are out all I do is yell, Come on, and I have them all following right along. They are not quite as self-sufficient I don't think.

    Those are the only breed I have personal knowledge about. Hope it helps.

    Donna
     

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    I had Black Welsh Mountain in the past. Nice sheep but badly inbreed at the time.
    There now is new blood out there which has improved the breed.

    Shetlands, Icelandic's would do better in super cold weather I think. The Black Welsh Mountain might need some kind of barn.

    Is there any breeders near you? That way you can go check the breeds you are interested in, in person.

    Jacob sheep are also hardy and neatly colored.

    Personally my all time favorite and I bred for years is the American Brecknock Hill Cheviots. Hardy, easy to care for, and not flightly like their larger cousins can be.
     
  4. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    I adore my finns...

    They are friendly, intelligent, the rams are very gentle, no horns,
    very nice fleece, good mothers, ez lambings, great foragers...

    and they're milky, iffin you want to steal some for cheese...
     
  5. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    Thanks all! Good info!

    I am going to the 4H fair this weekend, I am sure there will be a variety of sheep there to look at and admire.

    I have found someone not too terribly far away who is selling Scottish Blackface and Icelandics, and some crosses of the two (which came out looking very neat!) and am talking with her a bit about them as well.

    I'll keep you updated!

    Thanks!
     
  6. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have three BWM ewes (which, btw, are for sale). Their coats are coarse and I don't like that. I would breed them AI from British stock if I was interested in purebred registerable lambs. It took over a year to get them to the point they would come up to me freely. They were not abused in their former home, but they are more primitive and more cautious than modern breeds. They do not bunch up like merinos, but my dog can still herd them. If you put off shearing for some reason, they will shed out. One of the three is all shed out by May, but the other two take much longer, and get the clippers. The ewes are very nice, but the rams are little monsters. We had one- he would have killed me if he was big.

    If they are bred the first year, they will have a single. After that, twins. That said, our little ram bred the girls one year (2- 2yr olds, 1- 1 yr old) and they all had singles the following winter/spring. I believe it is because he was very inbred, and possibly because he was very young. Since then, the girls have all had twins. They are excellent mothers.
     
  7. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Wow, Maura, your BWM Shed out?
    One of mine I let go for two years to get long enough fleece, he did not shed out at all. Hum.......

    You are right, the older lines have more corse fleece. But it is easily blended,,, by using half super soft llama and the BWM.

    You know,, they are just started to be bred in this country.
    But Gotlands are wonderful Sheep, super sweet and their fleece is to die for.
    Super strong, slight luster, nice spring, easy to spin. And unlike most strong fleece,, it is reallyy soft!
    Spun up some Yarn from Pure Gotland sheep.... if they had these sheep when I was breeding, I would of raised then!

    Next is the Blue Faced leicester for softness and strenght.
     
  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, Bergere, shed out, which is pretty scarey the first time it happens (hard to get a shearer in these parts) Mange? Worms? Just shedding, and the new stuff is so beautifuly coal black.

    I have bred them with my Corriedale ram and the offspring have dense black wool that is nearly as soft as the ram's. They have a good personality and even the ram lambs are docile. I'm cutting back this year to four ewes and a real nice spinning flock.
     
  9. wooly1s

    wooly1s Well-Known Member

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    I'm tickled with my little flock of Soays...they don't get very big, shed out completely, are very weather hardy (even the lambs!) and independent...and they can run as a "wild flock" and still be registered!

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