How much land...

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by jessepona, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

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    I'm currently looking at buying a house (yay!) and it looks like DH and I will be able to afford 5-10 acres. I would LOVE to keep a few Icelandic sheep so my question is this: how much land do you need to keep Icelandics and sheep in general? I'm sure it depends on how many sheep you want to keep... which leads to a second question, can you keep only a few (4-8) Icelandics or would they get way to lonely?


    Also, can you keep sheep and other ungulates together... like goats or a small Jersey? Sorry for my ignorance and thanks in advance for the help!
     
  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    How many you can keep will depend totally on your pastures and how much supplemental feed you give them. I kept 9 Dorpers on a little over an acre the first year I had them but had to give them hay and grain. Ive heard sheep and goats dont always do well together but I think it depends on the breeds. Many people DO run sheep with cattle in rotation since they can help control each others parasites. I dont think they will "get lonely" As long as there are at least 2 they seem to do fine
     

  3. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    The old rule of thumb is 5 sheep to the acre in our part of the country.(I am a neighbor in Ohio) :)
    This will depend on pasture quality, and if you set stock, or can do intensive grazing.
    Besides temperament issues with sheep and goats, another thing to consider is what the goats are eating. If goats can browse, they are better off. Forcing them to eat grass causes them to be much more susceptible to worms, which in turn exposes your sheep to a heavier worm load - sheep and goat do share intestinal worms. So you'll have to be more vigilant in checking for worm loads & deworming.
    Cattle and sheep do not share intestinal worms. I'm not certain if things like coccidia - does anyone else know?

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  4. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Another thing to think about is that sheep and goats have different mineral requirements. Especially where copper is concerned. I've had Icelandics and goats together, and have trouble getting the copper to the goats without letting the sheep have it. It's easy for a milk goat who eats on the stand every day...not so easy for the rest. Personality wise, they work it out, although they both seem confused at first. A goat will rear, then come down to head-butt, either when playing or when serious. A sheep doesn't mess around wasting time rearing...they charge! I had a few goats knocked off their feet when they were reared up and a sheep hit them. Could have cost some broken legs but it didn't for me.

    I'm in the process of selling all my goats, to increase the sheep. In fact, I'm making a trip to Indiana later this month to pick up a new ram! Long drive for me!

    Oh, yeah...one more thing. Icelandics are highly addictive. Plan for at least twice as many as you think you want, so you don't have to rebuild shelters later on! :p

    Meg
     
  5. MommaSasquatch

    MommaSasquatch Well-Known Member

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    I have four Icelandics and two goats. Feeding has been interesting because the goats need a bit more fussiness with their feeding. I have managed the different needs by having only horned sheep and giving the goats free-choice alfalfa pellets in a location where the sheep can't reach because of their big ol' horns. I put copper sulfate on their pellets once a week. Having only sheep would be easier but this is workable too.

    I haven't had any real conflicts with the different animals. Mostly the sheep ignore the goats, though the goats would like the sheep to play with them.

    Meg Z, where in IN are you headed? I'm in the NW corner of the state and the nearest other Icelandics I've been able to find are a good hour away from me. Always keeping my ear open for other folks nearby.
     
  6. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

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    I'm in northern Indiana and there are some people that keep icelandics in the same town as me. I need to get in contact with them and find out if they'll have any to sell next year.

    Thanks for all the advice! I'm dead set on keeping icelandics if I can, I have a pic of a little lamb on my bulliten board to remind me someday I'll be able to keep them. I love their wool, I really want to learn how to spin it so I can use it in crochet and knitting projects. I'm thinking if its possible I'd love to keep a small jersey or gurnsey with them though it seems so far people have mostly tried goats with them. I think it would be possible to alternate pasture between them so the sheep can eat the forbs the cow won't.

    Can I ask how much the lambs typically go for? I have an idea from my research on the net but I'm curious to see what other people paid or are charging.

    THanks!
     
  7. MommaSasquatch

    MommaSasquatch Well-Known Member

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    I just paid $500 for a nice registered ram lamb and $100 for a wether. Since you're nearby I'll tell you where I got them - the Lavender Fleece located in Michigan. Laurie was so nice to work with. I may have some lambs for sale next year too depending on what spring brings us. We're short on space and can't increase our numbers by much.
     
  8. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

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    Wow, thats really reasonable! I'm glad to know that icelandics aren't quite as rare as I thought. When I first got interested in keeping them I was afraid I'd have to drive half-way across the country for one LOL

    Thanks for the info!
     
  9. jlo

    jlo Active Member

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    We run our Jersey heifer with our sheep because our beef cattle push her around and out of the feed more than the sheep do. She even eats the sheep mineral and we just have our vet give her the once over any time their out to see if the lower copper is affecting her and so far no problems.

    When we did have the sheep and cattle all together, we made sure the cattle mineral was a block and we mounted it up high, out of sheep reach (usually on a fence post or the side of the barn) and put the sheep mineral underneath the hay rack/trough where it was not worth the trouble for the cows to try and get it but the sheep could reach it easily. It seemed to work out fine. Personally, I prefer to keep them separate and graze them in rotation because I like being in the field around my sheep, but the cows are all so much bigger that I prefer to mostly feed them, etc. from outside the fence. They've never given us trouble, but I'm just still getting used to them. Compared to our sheep, and even our Jersey, they seem HUGE. :)
     
  10. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Hey MommaS...here is where I'm heading...to pick up the little moorit solid ram lamb marked SOLD on the for sale page!

    http://schachtfleecefarm.com/

    And you can tell Mandy I sent you, too! She's a sweetie!

    Too bad you aren't on the side closer to me! We could have met!

    Meg
     
  11. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    In my county, they recommend 3 sheep per acre - or one cow, or cow/calf pair, or one horse ... but it depends on the pasture quality as everyone says. As for loneliness, I think they like to be at least 3, so they feel "like a flock", but even 2 is usually do-able.

    I have 2 purebred icelandic ewes (apparently I got one heckuva deal - I paid $50 each!), two suffolk cross offspring of theirs (a wether and a ewe, the ewe is polled, the wether has horns), one senior suffolk cross of indeterminate breed (she is retiring at our farm :D), one babydoll southdown ram (who is hopefully going to knock up the girls and give us some lambs come spring - we'll see what that particular mix gives us for babies, I've no idea how that'll work out - this year is the experiment, and depending how it goes we'll re-evaluate!), oh, and two mutt sheep of some sort or other, both ewes.

    Everyone gets along, although the Icelandics are very 'clannish' and stick together, also they are flightier than the others. They are getting the hang of it though, and taming a bit now that they are getting used to us. I do love how they look, and hope to have a small flock of just icelandics at some point - I'll invest in a ram maybe next year or the year after and try to get some purebreds going.

    Anyway, I do think 8 sheep on 5-10 acres should be no problem. You may want to consider a guardian dog, too, for your peace of mind! I've got two ... and they work hard almost every night chasing coyotes, which lets me sleep. (After awhile you sleep through the barking and wake only if it is quiet, wondering "what are the dogs doing??")

    Some pics and such are on the blog ... applejackcreek.com/blog
     
  12. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

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    Wow, that is a DEAL! I'll feel lucky if I get them for under 500$

    Thanks for the info, and again... wow lucky!

    I'm thinking of having ~6 sheep and a Jersey cow and letting them alternate pastures. This seems like the best of both world senarios. Still, it all depends on what kind of place we get... I can't wait to really start looking!
     
  13. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

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    As an aside - I'm also really interested in adding non-toxic native grasses and forbs to the pasture and creating a kind of a praire mix for them. My DH works in a native plant nursery so I'd have no trouble getting seed and plugs (yay!). It seems like a neat experiment but I would want to make sure I didn't get to many rich plants and give the sheep bloat. Has anyone else made a native prairie style pasture for their sheep?
     
  14. Sherri C

    Sherri C Plays with yarn

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    The latest issue of the free magazine they give out at the Tractor Supply Company store has an article on Icelandics.
     
  15. jlo

    jlo Active Member

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    I don't know about native prairie mix grass, but we're going native as much as we can and it's working out well, especially for warm season grasses. Our summer pastures are all crabgrass and switchgrass. The neighbors think we're crazy but the sheep love it and our pastures are bright green all summer without any irrigation in site. No need to fertilize or anything and no trouble so far with bloat, although we do watch closely at the very beginning of the growing season as they're coming off hay for the winter.
     
  16. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Hi!
    Would you be able to extend your grazing season by also planting cool season grasses?
    In SE Ohio, our unimproved pastures are a mix of tall fescue (endophyte infected) orchard grass, bluegrass, brome, and red clover. (plus a healthy dose of chichory, iron weed and queen anne's lace. :) ) By stockpiling the fescue in the fall, we can graze our sheep all year round.
    At this point, we just don't need the extra summer grass, but I've considered grazing maze to hepl us through the summer slump should we have the need as our flock numbers expand.
    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  17. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Ive seen hundreds of sheep on an acre ya just have to feed them every bite. Im betting thats not what you are looking for. I think what would be best for you is to buy a few and raise the lambs till the pasture looks right to you with the flock on it.
     
  18. jlo

    jlo Active Member

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    We haven't had as much luck actually finding native cool season grasses that will grow well perennially. We've got one pasture we are trying prennial ryegrass/clover mixture under/in with our crabgrass and have had some luck and we're trying a few cool season annuals--but we don't keep that much planting equipment right now and have to borrow for reseeding every year. Fescue does fine for cool season, but we have high die-off rates after the summer unless we irrigate. Our soil is too sandy for orchard grass or timothy to do very well long term either. Any suggestions?
     
  19. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Yeh - ask your extension agent. :rolleyes:
    Not knowing what part of the country you're in makes it hard - and from the sounds of it, I'm probably out of my league if fescue won't survive where you are! Around here, we can't kill it out - believe me, a lot of graziers have tried. Now we just look for the silver lining, which is that it becomes palatable after it freezes, and it holds its nutritional quality long into the winter .

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  20. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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