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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sheep Vs Goats.

I have a question here.. and it make take a whole page to identify it. I hope some of you will be willing to wade through it and give me some advice. I will need to give a bit of background information and then some premises that I have formed ( if you found any of them invalid You are welcome to comment).

I grew up on a cattle farm and have lived on them half my life, raising almost everything but sheep or goats. We (my spouse and I) will be retiring in 3 to 6 years (if the economy doesn’t totally cave in first) and are saving to buy a piece of land with a dwelling. Whether or not the jobs last that long, if the economy continues to sour, we may need to raise moist of our food ourselves…perhaps with a minimum of commercial feed input. In investigating the ideal type of (larger) farm animals to raise, it seems sheep or goats would be the best all around choice. After studying the matter for several months we have come up with these premises:

1 The 5 to 10 acres of pasture land we have is best suited to sheep or goats.

2 We don’t spin or weave or make cheese so wool sheep and dairy
are out… we are to old to get involved in new things, and there will be plenty of work already to keep us active.

3 The cost of commercial feeds and medicines may get too excessive, so we would prefer an animal that (usually) calves OK
by itself, and does not require constant attendance at birthing.

4 Our first thought was Katahdin and/or Dorper sheep…but they seem to require constant attention at lambing.

5 We had initially stayed away from goats because they seemed to have to be wormed more often (and let’s face it. lambs are cute)

With all that being said, We were disappointed with the constant
attention that sheep needed at lambing, and the terrific amount of
worming that both breeds seem to need (not to mention the warnings
that parasites were becoming immune to most of the popular
wormers) We liked Boer goats, but the seem to need a lot of
worming too. Kiko goats it seemed, especially those raise to be
resistant to parasites, seem to be the best answer, and perhaps Boer
crosses.

It should be said here that we have raised farm and show animals and
always take good care of them. It is not that we are too lazy to worm
worm or help deliver lambs, we are just not sure that we will be able
(financially) to constantly medicate animals. Secondly, it sort of goes
against our principles to propagate animals that are not
environmentally capable of existing without so much medical
intervention, after all, we are not talking about some highly inbred
show animal here.

Hopefully some of you out there understand what we are saying, and
can make some suggestions as to which animals, breeds, or crosses
we should look for.
 

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Boers became weaker to the parasites because people where carelessly breeding them with little regards to the survival of the fitest rule of thumb, the same thing will happen with kikos, just as it did with any animal with sudden popularity, that one gets a bad rap, just like dalmations and saint bernards did.
It comes to finding a quality breeder thats just as interested in producing healthy as well as pretty.
I personally am scared to raise sheep since they have such sensitivity to too many things.

There is no room for lazyness in any aspect of raising animals, though I think that goats are pretty easy as long as you get the facts right.
 

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I've had both sheep and goats. I had wool/meat sheep though, but I work at a farm that has Katahdin/dorper crosses and they don't need constant attention at lambing they do perfectly fine, my boss has only had two with difficulty before. You do have to make sure that they don't get too much copper though. I currently have dairy goats, but have raised and worked with boer goats before and the ones I've been around only really need worming when it's been really moist.

And no matter what anyone says not all sheep are dumb! They are just more prone to going on their instincts. But there are dumb ones.
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Boers became weaker to the parasites because people where carelessly breeding them with little regards to the survival of the fitest rule of thumb, the same thing will happen with kikos, just as it did with any animal with sudden popularity, that one gets a bad rap, just like dalmations and saint bernards did.
It comes to finding a quality breeder thats just as interested in producing healthy as well as pretty.
I personally am scared to raise sheep since they have such sensitivity to too many things.

There is no room for lazyness in any aspect of raising animals, though I think that goats are pretty easy as long as you get the facts right.
Thanks for replying.

Should I take it that you are saying that I should pay the greatest attention to the breeder from which I buy the sheep....to make sure he does not coddle them medically?
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've had both sheep and goats. I had wool/meat sheep though, but I work at a farm that has Katahdin/dorper crosses and they don't need constant attention at lambing they do perfectly fine, my boss has only had two with difficulty before. You do have to make sure that they don't get too much copper though. I currently have dairy goats, but have raised and worked with boer goats before and the ones I've been around only really need worming when it's been really moist.

And no matter what anyone says not all sheep are dumb! They are just more prone to going on their instincts. But there are dumb ones.
I live in the midwest US. The summers here are hot and humid...the winters are cold and humid. It would seem that that would be conducive to both hoof problems and parasite problems. I have read of farmers Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, that supposedly cull any offspring that have any problem kidding or require frequent worming.... question is, can I beleive the claims they make that their animals are environmentaly sound?
 

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Hhmm, no humidity is not a friend to the goats and sheep. I live in Oklahoma so I don't know if they do it there, wish you could come buy some from my boss this spring as I know hers are really good sheep, not a whole lot of problems with them that I've seen. (been working there for 2 1/2 years)

I think it's great that your doing you research before you get into it though!
 

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I have no experience with sheep and only about 4 yrs with Boer goats. There's alot out there that say they are disease/worm prone.
I believe this has to do with underdosing of wormers and/or general managment.
You can start out with the best stock available, but if they are eating off the ground etc you are going to have problems. But you probably know that already.
We live in the Pacific NW where it is wet most of the year. We have to trim feet far more often than those who live in dry rocky places.
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hhmm, no humidity is not a friend to the goats and sheep. I live in Oklahoma so I don't know if they do it there, wish you could come buy some from my boss this spring as I know hers are really good sheep, not a whole lot of problems with them that I've seen. (been working there for 2 1/2 years)

I think it's great that your doing you research before you get into it though!
Yep, I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I know I will end up making some poor choices, but I hope to not make any more than necessary:eek: I have learned that experience is worth so much more than simple book knowledge.

Oklahoma (at least the eastern part) is not all that far away. But I am hoping that I can find somone close, who has animals already adapted completely to the same environment. It is great that you can work for someone that you have such confidence in. :)

Btw, everyone, I hope you won't let your politeness outweigh you speaking your mind. I would much rather hear hard truths than end up making big mistakes
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have no experience with sheep and only about 4 yrs with Boer goats. There's alot out there that say they are disease/worm prone.
I believe this has to do with underdosing of wormers and/or general managment.
You can start out with the best stock available, but if they are eating off the ground etc you are going to have problems. But you probably know that already.
We live in the Pacific NW where it is wet most of the year. We have to trim feet far more often than those who live in dry rocky places.
Thanks for the tip! We have dry weather here in the late summer, but it seems it is always humid. The PNW is an awesome place... I had the opportunity to live around the Buckley area for a couple of years.. loved the area, but land prices were out of sight :~.... and that was many years ago.
 

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I have heard that the sheep breeders are beginning to breed their sheep to be naturally worm resistant. The person I heard it from is very reliable and I trust what they say to be true. She told me that she also has begun to breed her animals for parasite resistance because of the lack of control of internal parasites due to worms becoming resistant to medications.

If it was me picking I would look at the pasture I would be providing to the animals. An older unused pasture with alot of brushy browse then I say start with goats. If you have lots of grass then choose sheep. Both animals will provide land control and some income at the market for their meat production.

I am a dairy man myself.......sheep milk uggghh!
 

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winding down
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I've kept both, and they each have their own sets of problems. Both can have parasite issues and both can have birthing issues, and they'll vary with breed and location. For example, I've had many more problems with parasites with my wool breed sheep than I ever did with dairy goats, and had far more kidding problems than lambing problems. I had to pull kids every single year I had goats. I've had sheep for several years now, and have had to assist exactly one ewe.

I'd suggest you choose a species based on what you want out of it. (Meat, milk, hides, breeding stock sales?) Once that's done, then look at breed characteristics as far as parasite resistance, birthing issues and other factors of consideration, and which ones do best in your area. Then look for a breeder that can supply you with well-bred individuals of that breed.

Good luck,
Meg
 

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we have both sheep and goats. I like them both - probably the sheep are easier, maybe 20% easier.

This last year we had a total of 6 goats (2 does, 4 kids) and 8 sheep (1 ram, 3 does, 4 lambs). The goats are handled/milked daily - and it is much easier, because of the familiarity, to monitor them for problems. Much easier to move them, to trim hooves, etc, because they are used to being handled. We used herbal wormers successfully with the goats, needed to worm 4x over the course fo the year.

The sheep were not handled (as in hands on) much - and we lost one lamb to bottle jaw/acute worm overload that came on very quickly with sudden rain/heat combo. Much much harder to worm the sheep at all because they are not used to being handled!

strategy for coming year: culled back to 3 sheep (2 ewes & the ram) to start with the hardiest, most parasite resistant with decent lamb growth. These three are in the barn/barn corral and being handled daily. Hoping to halter train them and milk stand train the 2 ewes.

Sold the cae+ goat doe, kept the better doe, sold all the kids, bought one great dairy doeling & buying another new registered bred doeling. Hoping to keep the new doelings and sell the older doe in milk come spring, should kidding/breeding go well.

The goats are more useful on a daily basis - for milk and milk for cheesemaking. The sheep produce incredibly delicious lamb for the table. For us, both animals are the answer. (I give the wool away to friends)
 

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I raised sheep for 7 years. I liked the sheep and they did well for me. The getting and keeping them dry to shear before early spring lambing got to be a chore. have hem in the barn..they woudl be dry and then they would get hot and be damp to shear. It ended up the shearer bought the wool and then I paid him additonal $ for shearing//a lossing proposition. I sold the sheep. I had dairy goats too. One afternoon in early Spring I got home from work..and all 4 does had kidded...everyone OK.
I have had Registered Boer goats for 5 years. I like the goats better. They are friendlier, easy to manage and healthier than the sheep. Here in Minnesota we get humid summers too. My wife lived in Missouri growing up she can attest it gets a bit hotter in Missouri but its get hot and humid here too. I worm at kidding, before pasture, one time during pasture and in the fall when I start feeding hay and breeding starts.

Goat kids are cuter than lambs and stronger too.
I suggest you surf the internet and find Boer goat owners near you and visit their farms.
Most every goat owner likes to talk about their goats.
If you wish check out my Boers at www.fletcherthreeoaks.com
Every goat we have has a picture posted.

Jerry
 

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O& itw

in responce to your #2, you really are never too old to learn something new. An advantage you would have over say, someone still working is you would have more time to invest quickly on a new task. I have had hair sheep, crap wool sheep, quality wool sheep and dairy goats. I currently am NOT riding the meat goat wave, known as Boers. (I mean, I know they truly are the hip thing to be breeding/selling right now, I'm just not into them.) If a person has wool sheep and they are losing money on it, then you might try a better quality of wool breed. Same holds true for a meat breed. St Croix sheep are small and don't offer much meat, but easy to handle.

It's good that you mention your location as that would be a key factor as to what may or may not work for you. In your area, not too far is where in 1935 the Montadale sheep breed was developed, so you know that can survive our Mid-west climate issues & plus the registered Montadales bring a good price, and I know some people out there like their wool. (We went with Border Leicesters in the end as my wife kept buying the fleeces at shows.) I liked the Montadales, but the BL's fit many of my wants in a sheep, ..clean face & feet, nice size for meat and wool. And hey, even if it's not a hobby that you or your spouce want to take up, you can always sell a quality wool for more than you pay someone to shear. I personally seem to have trouble with keeping dairy goats alive, (I know it should be the other way around but it's not) The other problem with goats IMO, is they will try your fence hourly, if they can. My sheep would stand for days looking at a large hole in the fence and ponder the thought.

And about the best reason to pick sheep over goats is: There are few things on the planet that compare to standing at one end of a field and casting out your Border Collie to fetch the entire flock to bring them to your feet, or other desired location. It is a grand thing to watch and even better to be the person that dog calls master. (And you can be a might bit older than you think to train and work a dog. And in return, your dog will save you hours of work per day.)
 

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1 The 5 to 10 acres of pasture land we have is best suited to sheep or goats.
Could it be improved? I'm thinking you might be happier with a small breed of cattle as it is what you are most familiar with. Assuming premise #2 is accurate.

2 We don’t spin or weave or make cheese so wool sheep and dairy
are out… we are to old to get involved in new things, and there will be plenty of work already to keep us active.
Don't get me wrong I like the sheep far better than the cattle we had (and have again) but both sheep and goats require more hands on effort at times than the cattle. Certainly I'd be thinking of a hair breed sheep in your situation, so shearing is off the to do list and they seem a little hardier than the wool breeds. Or at least the Katahadins did a neighbor had. That said I'd look at the Dorpers too.

3 The cost of commercial feeds and medicines may get too excessive, so we would prefer an animal that (usually) calves OK
by itself, and does not require constant attendance at birthing.
The only sheep breed we had that seemed to have lambing problems were the Suffolks I guess it was just the ram not suiting the ewes and they're a big breed. Some breeds are far easier birthing than others. My Rideau Arcotts (much like a Finn) are probably the easiest.
4 Our first thought was Katahdin and/or Dorper sheep…but they seem to require constant attention at lambing.
I'm not familiar with that statement as it relates to hair sheep. Certainly the Kats my friend had did not get nor need extra attention. Basic care seemed to work fine.

5 We had initially stayed away from goats because they seemed to have to be wormed more often (and let’s face it. lambs are cute)
Normally I'd say the opposite, thay goats needed less but another neighbor lost 8 goats and no sheep this year to worms. The required worm management as a preventative measure is the same so its likely fair to scratch that. Lambs are cuter than kids yes absolutely!! :)
 

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I've had both sheep and goats. I preferred the sheep and kept them.
If you do decide to go with sheep, choose a primative (unimproved) breed, grill the seller on their parasite program.
All livestock have parasites. Many of us are doing "smart drenching" instead of blanket deworming, and culling unthrifty animals to breed in naturally strong, resistant sheep.
Any any individual sheep or goat can have troubles with birthing, and you should be able to lend a hand if needed.
You could look into Shetlands, Icelandics, Clun Forest. There is a whiteface breed called the Tamarack that is advertised as being extremely low maintenance, you could try googling them.
Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide to do.
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow!...
I got a lot of great replies overnight. Thanks everyone.

Perhaps, there is some crucial information I did not include. All the land we at which we are currently looking, is remote, has a spring of some kind, and is mostly wooded.

We are hoping to get around 40 acres, but may end up with 15 or so. After taking room for a large garden that may only leave us with 3 or 4 acres of pasture/ browse. If I chose to divide that area into small paddocks, for rotational purposes, that doesn't really give me room for more than a steer or two. We obviously wouldn’t be raising grain of any consequence. The primary reason that we are looking for sheep instead of cattle, is that these animals are primarily for our own consumption. A steer would be too much meat at one time for us (also, if one were to lose a steer, for some reason, it would be a tremendous loss percentage wise)

Actually, the most ideally suited animal would be hogs, they will eat almost anything and aren’t quite the temptation to predators. That isn’t going to happen. We don’t like the destruction they do to the land, we don’t think their meat is that healthy, and we just don’t like the animals in general. (Sorry, all you porcine lovers out there)

We think we could handle about 5 does/ewes and their offspring. We are unsure that we will be keeping a ram/billy. Since, unlike many, we like mutton, it would seem we could keep the offspring and butcher an animal when we needed the meat, one at a time, starting with any that had chronic hoof/parasite problems (and maybe chronic fence jumpers). This would allow for replacement animals and if we had a few to sell, fine.

There may well be huge holes in our plan…. which is why we are hoping to get input from all of you here.
 

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There's very few paddocks that you can't fit a cow and a handful of sheep on. You can almost always squeeze 2-3 sheep into the mix. A single goat in the same pasture will provide optimum grazing, as all three will eat different things. Cattle eat mostly coarse grasses, sheep eat the younger tender shoots, and goats prefer the taller items such as weeds. My goats take the tops right off of thistles when they're fresh ... it's their favorite meal, and after 3 years of grazing you'll see a very productive pasture.

If you're looking at mostly woods, then goats may be the better option for you. Cattle and sheep need pasture, not forest, whereas goats can deal with either. In fact, goats will (to a certain degree) turn forest INTO pasture by eating and killing the smaller trees. They'll certainly thin out the area for you.

Predators are going to be a huge problem in the wooded areas as well, especially if there are fencelines full of cover leading off into larger wooded area. Coyotes and other predators travel those wooded fencelines from place to place as they prefer not to cross open land.
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
There's very few paddocks that you can't fit a cow and a handful of sheep on. You can almost always squeeze 2-3 sheep into the mix. A single goat in the same pasture will provide optimum grazing, as all three will eat different things. Cattle eat mostly coarse grasses, sheep eat the younger tender shoots, and goats prefer the taller items such as weeds. My goats take the tops right off of thistles when they're fresh ... it's their favorite meal, and after 3 years of grazing you'll see a very productive pasture.

If you're looking at mostly woods, then goats may be the better option for you. Cattle and sheep need pasture, not forest, whereas goats can deal with either. In fact, goats will (to a certain degree) turn forest INTO pasture by eating and killing the smaller trees. They'll certainly thin out the area for you.

Predators are going to be a huge problem in the wooded areas as well, especially if there are fencelines full of cover leading off into larger wooded area. Coyotes and other predators travel those wooded fencelines from place to place as they prefer not to cross open land.
Yep....predators are one of my largest worries. Looks like my budget is going to have to include food for a guard dog or two. I Hope to have a woven wire boundry fence (around the pastures) with an electric wire. After reading some, I don't have much confidence in Llamas..the seem to rely on bluff. and I'm not sure a donkey would work that well either, but if would sure be nice to have something that ate grass instead of dog food.
 
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