Low maintenance breed?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by havenberryfarm, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    I am wondering what breed would be best for someone who is new to sheep. I have goats, so some of the care is familiar. Mostly I want some meat, but I also want to enjoy them, so docile and personable sheep are preferred. I am leaning toward shetlands or dorpers. Shetlands are not exactly a meat breed, but they are easy keepers, I am told. They are also available here in NW Ohio. Dorpers are bigger and meatier, but I don't know if they are easy keepers or not. Also, I don't know anyone who has any. We have a large Muslim population, so I know I could sell lambs for meat quite easily.

    Anyone know more about Dorpers?
    Any other suggestions?
    Any info about Shetland meat?

    Oh, I have 6 kids, so safety is a concern. One big reason why I am thinking Shetland (small ram). Also, my goats are on the small side and I may run the girls together. Shetlands would be closer in size to the goats.
     
  2. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    One of the breeds that we raise are extremely low maintainance.
    Lincoln Longwools are a great multi-purpose breed with a calm and gentle disposition.
    Our Lincolns are extremely easy keepers and most keep their condition very easily on pasture/hay.
    They are large in size, but are slower growers. The rams (who don't have horns) are gentle giants. But, like any breed, should always be watched and respected.
    They have wonderful maternal intincts, and produce lambs that are lean and have a well-muscled carcass for meat. Their wool is long & lustrous and come in color or white.
    When crossed with other breeds they are wonderful sheep too.

    Although we are located in Wisconsin, we could easily transport :)
     

  3. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

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    Dorpers are a wonderful choice for easy maintenance meat sheep. They have a fast rate of gain, no shearing required, good mothers, very docile disposition ~ even the rams. We have been raising them for about five years now and just love them. The meat is mild flavored compared to wool sheep.

    You can find a Dorper breeder near you by checking the membership directory at www.dorperamerica.org ~ there are quite a few breeders in Ohio.

    Katahdin and St. Croix breeds are other good choices as they are also a hair sheep although they do not grow nearly as fast as the Dorpers.
     
  4. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much! I had not really considered Lincolns because I thought their size would make them more difficult to handle. I may have to rethink them a bit.
    Thanks for the Dorper tip. I will have to see what we have in our area. I bet they would be awesome crossed too! :goodjob:
     
  5. elgordo

    elgordo Well-Known Member

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    We have Katahdins, a hair sheep breed. I've found the ewes to be gentle. The ram was another story! He would be friendly until he got that certain "look" in his eye! We used a ram blinder on him, and while he wore that he was fine. I would recommend a sight blinder for any ram, regardless of how gentle he seemed esp. around young children. You might consider a hair sheep breed if you don't want the wool. Ours are also parasite and foot rot resistant. We also run them with goats with no problems. Happy researching!
     
  6. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    Soay are smaller so easier to handle, dont require tail docking, shearing, I dont even do vaccinations. They haven't yet jumped over a cattle panel in the 5-6 years we've had them and taste more like elk than sheep
     
  7. adnilee

    adnilee Well-Known Member

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    There is a fellow by the name of Tim Hoober in Fountain City, IN (not too far from OH) who sells Dorpers and Dorper crosses. He is a great guy and most of our sheep came from him. He will give you an honest deal and you could visit his farm to see if you like the breed. The Dorper crosses our our most friendly (anoyingly at times) sheep we have. If you get the right genetics, you will not have to shear. Just watch for the wooly ones!
    PM me if you would like the contact information.
    Adrian
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Check out the Sheep Board Directory for both the breeds you're interested in. I beleive we had a good responce to both the breeds as "Breeds of the month" I like the look of Lincolns but I want a wool breed and meat but they will need shearing so be prepared! Mind the wool should be worth a decent price if its kept veg free.
     
  9. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    We have 2 bummer ram lambs that are mostly Katahadin/Dorper crosses. They are 3 months old. So far they are very low maintenance. We even put them on one of our Alpines to milk her. Saves me time and trouble. These ram lambs are very gentle so far. They eat the goat's leftovers and also oat hay we bought for bedding. Every night they go in the barn in their own stall with the goats. Good luck. Sheep are fun.
     
  10. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much for all your responses.
     
  11. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    I was just reading about Finn sheep. Does anyone have any? I was wondering about getting one or two to join the flock. A cross would produce more young for the meat market, but are they high maintenance? Do the tails need docking, higher grain rations, more meds etc.? Anyone know? Do they cross well with Dorpers or other meat breeds? Soay? I've got to quit getting so distracted when I check out your suggestions. Sorry. :shrug:
     
  12. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Whoever said shetland rams were small?? My registered ram is well over 250 lbs. No way is he small. His horns make him dangerous as well. I would NEVER recommend a horned ram around children. Rams are dangerous enough polled, the horns make them deadly. I would highly recommend the Katahdin. The rams and ewes are very gentle and easy keepers. My shetlands have to be wormed every two months, my Katahdins once or twice a year. They are slightly smaller than the dorper making them easier to handle. The dorpers have to have their tails docked whereas the katahdins and shetlands do not.
     
  13. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    I just bought my first Finns, and I love them.
    They're low maintenance, like the Shetlands, but have a more laid-back temperament. They're very friendly, not skittish at all. The ram lambs lay down and relax by me every time I'm near. Or they'll rest next to the angora bunnies when they're out. Too funny to describe!
    Short tails, can go almost entirely on forage.
    I know there is a breeder in PA who specializes in Finn/Dorper crosses...
     
  14. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Some shetland breeders are selectively breeding the shetland larger in size for the meat market. Anyone interested in getting into shetlands should shop around and make sure the person they are buying from has similar flock goals. I saw a few shetland rams at Michigan Fiber Festival last week that were darn near Icelandic size. Since the breed standard does not limit height or weight except to exclude undersized animals, this is acceptable although it is raising a few eyebrows in the shetland world. I don't personally like it, nor do I want super sized shetlands in my flock. To me, part of the novelty is the small size.
    Most breeders choose a more moderately sized shetland, not weedy or runty, but still small. To be honest, if I wanted strictly meat sheep, I'd have chosen another breed than the shetland.
    I'm working on a polled strain of shetlands. I currently have two naturally polled registered shetland rams, by the end of the year I'll have 3. Someday I hope to offer polled shetland rams to potential shetland owners who don't want to deal with horned stock.

    Juliann
     
  15. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I wasn't aware of how large they actually got. I didn't know until I had driven four hours to pick him up. I will be selling him later this fall so I can buy a polled Shetland ram, found one about three hours away. Apparently they are becoming more common. I have a Katahdin ram that is in the same pen as my Shetland and I just don't like it. One horned and one polled is just asking for trouble.
     
  16. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    QK, can you share the registered name of the polled ram you are getting? I'm researching the pedigrees on known polled shetlands on the Nassa database, looking for common anscestors and donors of the polled gene.
    Thanks in advance,

    Juliann
     
  17. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    No way! Do you have any info about this breeder? PA isn't too far from here at all.
    The more I consider it, the better Finns look to me. Funny. I started this thinking about shetlands and now I like Finns. No tail docking, easy lambers, high lambing rate, and LOTS of milk to grow those babies. Katahadins have good milk rates too, but I am not sure about the lambing rate and meat production. Finns and Katahadins are both nice, but I am leaning toward Finns. I like Dorpers for meat too, but I am having a hard time finding details about them. I just don't want to get stuck with a breed like Suffolks which need constant worming, hoof care, docking, etc. and are less hardy. Losses are not nice when you have children who have helped raise them : :grit: ( no offense if you raise Suffolks.)
     
  18. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Where did you get your Finns, Minnikin1? Are they horned or polled?
     
  19. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Wow! That is a HUGE Shetland! I didn't know they came that big. Mine run about 65-85 lbs for ewes, 100-120 lbs for rams (they're all small enough I can pick them up & put them on a shearing stand); seems pretty typical of most west coast stock that I've seen. A friend butchers some of hers, & I've tried it, & they're quite tasty, even older adult animals are very mild. I worm mine 2X/year, have had them for going on 9 years w/no problems. No docking, good mothers, easy lambers, shear annually w/lovely fleeces (I shear them myself). I wouldn't *trust* any ram around kids, but some are more aggressive than others (like roosters); I prefer rams that are pretty wary around people, so stay a long way away from me, but many of my ewes & wethers are real friendly. My long-term keeper rams are those that respect even light flimsy fences, & are good with new lambs (I generally run rams year round with their group). I haven't found horns to be a big deal for me. My friend & I often run Angora goats w/our Shetlands. Here's one of my friend's does w/some of her Shetlands in the background (Apache Trails Shetlands & Angoras):
    [​IMG]

    And here's a goat of mine w/a couple of Shetland ewes:
    [​IMG]
     
  20. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Mine are polled.
    Here is the the breeder directory where I found the breeder in PA I was talking about, but I apologize because I mispoke- The cross was Dorset, not Dorper - a true duh moment...

    http://www.finnsheep.org/directory.htm

    I bought mine from Stillmeadow.