Dorset sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Quiver0f10, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    We have been given the opportunity to get some of these sheep and I'd like to know if these would be good for meat. We don't really plan to do anything with wool so we only wanted a meat breed, but if we did get a breed that is both, thats fine too.

    We didn't plan on getting any animals until spring but since this came up now we are comptemplating getting them now. We have a big barn so that isn't an issue but fencing would be. What kind of fencing and pen area would I need for 2 sheep? I am thinking something temporary for now and a more permanent one come spring. We have 11.5 acres and the area near the barn is 4-5 acres of grass, but I only want to pen off what I absolutely need too right now.

    We live in Northern Maine so I am not sure about winter housing. Would I need to heat their barn area? Also, since we get lots of snow, I am assuming I will need both grain and hay for food over the winter.

    Any other advice or tips will sure be appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Dorsets are a meat breed primarily. The wool can be useful, but is a coarse wool good for felting or as batts. I'm sure its spun for weaving etc too. They don't need heat they do need to be in good shape to tackle winter. I feed a little grain all winter and up the amount if especially cold weather is moving in. As long as they can be dry and out of the wind they'll put the feed to good use staying warm. If you plan to feed 5-7 pounds of a good mix hay and feed 1/2 -1 1/2 pounds of grains (12-14% cp) they should be fine. They'd put an acre of pasture to good use through Oct. and might even graze into December with an acre more and with some grain and free choice hay available. Kinda depends when you get snow and the weather in general. If Dorsets have a failing its their feet, they do need more attention to trimming and a good dry lot to stay in. Otherwise they're my number one beginner sheep, every vet in the world has heard of Dorsets, and 90% of sheep books are talking about Dorsets or sheep just like them in terms of care.
     

  3. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Sounds almost doable if I can just figure a way to fence the area without going broke. I am going to head to the feed store tomorrow and see what I can work out.
     
  4. Farmboy

    Farmboy Well-Known Member

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    When I was a real little we had a few polled Dorsets. One ewe had triplets consistantly. I've heard they're supposed to be good mothers. Seems true considering she raised all three of them without help. Just some comments from the peanut gallery. :)
     
  5. jimahall

    jimahall jimahall

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    Try electric fencing. The posts are about $2 +/- each. Wire is reasonable. I put my pasture dividers in for about $100. easy to "drive" the post in with just your foot. You can start small and enlarge as needed. Check with your feed store or county extension office about overseeding something for winter grazing. Not sure about Maine but in Oklahoma we plant annual ryegrass for a full winter of grazing. Hope this helps.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Jim, I'm impressed that you can get your fence posts for that price, it's about double here.

    I've got two dorsets, I'd sell them both to you, but it's a bit of a drive :) They're in and electric fence, no troubles at all. I bought them from a woman who's raised the breed for many years. Some of them have better fleeces than others, but it's pretty decent over all. Certainly an easy breed to start with.
     
  7. Philip

    Philip Philip

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    Dorsets are a good meat sheep (like all the 'Downs' varieties). We've found them to be good mothers, multiple births the norm, with the only difficulty being flystrike, but maybe thats in comparasion to our Wiltshires, which avoid the fly by shedding.
    Electric fencing - seems to work ok for those used to it, but keep their wool short or they'll push through it
     
  8. kirsten

    kirsten Well-Known Member

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    I want some dorsets too. Anybody by sioux falls? I only want ewes or ewe lambs and definietly polled!
     
  9. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Is Washington close enough? I've got a purebred 11 month ewe lamb available.