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We are thinking about adding sheep to the place.

I am looking for a breed or cross that will do the best.

We are in the middle of the mitten (mid-Michigan). We are going to have 1.5 acres (max) to fence off, and it will not be cleared/grass. There will be alot of rough/browse to (hopefully) be consumed.

Zone 5A, meat and milk are priority.

note: we are leaning towards sheep, as goats climb more ;)
 

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Callie, if I was set up for them, I would have gotten your Finns from you (and let you have the ones you wanted back) :thumb:

It's going to be more browse than graze.
 

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I’m in Kingston, where are you? I can ask around.
 
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Don't want to disappoint you, but if dairy animal doesn't have good grazing, the milk probably won't be a good flavor. Browse is OK for keeping the animals going, but not really "that" nutritious for adding meat or producing good milk.

Can you name the plant types growing on your ground? Some kinds may not even be edible, though they are green and leafy.

Any chance of improving the grazing? Even just running a brush hog mower over it a few times during the growing season, can help reduce weeds, promote grassy, edible growing plants to be more productive fairly quickly.

Even going with goats who do eat almost everything, if they don't have nice food in grasses or hay, the milk is not of good quality. Kind of like my Gramma's story about having to bring in the cow in the Spring, keep her off the pasture so cow didn't eat wild onions growing. Onions she ate made the milk undrinkable, even the pigs wouldn't drink it.
 

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Don't want to disappoint you, but if dairy animal doesn't have good grazing, the milk probably won't be a good flavor. Browse is OK for keeping the animals going, but not really "that" nutritious for adding meat or producing good milk.

Can you name the plant types growing on your ground? Some kinds may not even be edible, though they are green and leafy.

Any chance of improving the grazing? Even just running a brush hog mower over it a few times during the growing season, can help reduce weeds, promote grassy, edible growing plants to be more productive fairly quickly.

Even going with goats who do eat almost everything, if they don't have nice food in grasses or hay, the milk is not of good quality. Kind of like my Gramma's story about having to bring in the cow in the Spring, keep her off the pasture so cow didn't eat wild onions growing. Onions she ate made the milk undrinkable, even the pigs wouldn't drink it.
Grew up on a dairy farm ;)

I am planning on having good quality hay to supplement the natural eating.

Brush-hogging is near close to impossible, as it is wooded with hardwoods. If I am able to get another 3-5 acres, then I'll have some good grazing land.
 

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Thanks for clearing that "browse" issue up, was not clear from the first post. Folks can be very disappointed in animal production, but not know about species or production details to aid the animals to do better for owner.

You might get the dairy ewes, cross them on meat rams, for growthy lambs. Traveling thu the woods and brush would not harm fleeces with trash they pick up, you will be just shearing them off and tossing the wool anyway. Not the good fiber wool for spinning off the dairy sheep.

Not sure of what size the ewes of dairy breeds run, don't want to use too big of a ram for big lamb sizes that could be hard for ewes to deliver without help.

We let our lambs graze (have great pasture though) until late in the season, so they got as big as possible before processing. Our lambs were meat breeds, no dairy, so of course those kind of lambs are all about growth and putting on size. Even on very little grain, just keeping them friendly, the good grass packed on size. Ours were for 4-H projects. Processing had lambs weighing in at 130 to 160 pounds live, netting buyer about 90-100 pounds of meat to buyer. Bigger lambs return bigger meat bags than small lambs, so cost of meat is less on the bigger lambs, especially if they are grass-fed. You can advertise lambs that way, might get folks coming you would miss otherwise.

When I worked in Alma (years ago), Roger Eldred was a name in the local 4-H sheep, he might be helpful if he is still around. Back then I was not much into sheep, so not sure what kind he had then. Even checking with the County Extension could help with ideas for some commercial ideas in sheep raising, so you ACTUALLY make some money on them!
 

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You’re not really in the thumb. Just the same, the soil is probably fine for sheep. I don’t know anyone over there. But, one of the owners of the knitting shop in Caro raises sheep. Back Alley Fibers. If she doesn’t have the type of sheep you want (I don’t think she has dairy sheep) she probably knows someone who does.
 

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You might get the dairy ewes, cross them on meat rams, for growthy lambs. Traveling thu the woods and brush would not harm fleeces with trash they pick up, you will be just shearing them off and tossing the wool anyway. Not the good fiber wool for spinning off the dairy sheep.
I don't quite understand what you are trying to say here but if its what I think you are saying my experience is quite the opposite. Woods do mess up fleeces some. And you can get a nice fleece out of a cross. I've crossed to a more traditional breed than a modern meat but the fleeces are amazing. My dairy X jacob lambs are pretty huge. even weirder, the dairy X shetland ram is 200 lbs out of a ramt hat was maybe 80 lbs and dam that was 130.
 

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I don't think sheep who wander thru a hardwood area, among the brush and weeds, will have nice fleeces to use when they get sheared. Even if ewes are nice fleeces, the seeds and sticks will probably make such a mess of the wool, it won't be worth cleaning to use. OP said his woods are not cleaned out, though sheep will be improving it over the next year of being kept in there, hoping they get the brush "lowered" or eaten up! Fleeces next season should be in better shape, with less vegtable matter in them to clean if wool is of a desirable type.

Guess I am kind of picky, wool of sheep from "other use" breeds, has not been nearly as soft, long, crimpy, as wool from sheep bred for their wool (who tend to be small animals). Other use breeds, meat, dairy, can have wool be coarse, short, so not worth working with to keep, not sellable. Always exceptions to that statement, especially with cross-bred animals and the wool types they carry.

OP wants meat lambs though, so wool type is not part of his market plan. Thus it doesn't matter now, if ewe fleeces hold lots of vegetation in the wool.
 

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Icelandics will browse as well as goats do. They also can be milked (Star Thrower Farm in MN is a huge Icelandic dairy, and Dancing Lamb Farm in NY has scaled back but used to milk almost exclusively Icelandics), and have very tasty meat.
 
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