Newbie - wants sheep for wool and dairy?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by sassy_mare, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. sassy_mare

    sassy_mare Well-Known Member

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    Am I asking too much?

    I'd like to learn how to handspin and I would like to raise sheep for fun and making my own yarns.

    I am also intrigued with the dairy side of sheep - but I know nothing about it - or about sheep in general!

    What types would be good to have in Northern Minnesota - just a half dozen or so - lots of land to graze on. I don't think I want to keep my own ram...

    Thanks all! I love this website!
    Sheri
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I've wondered if hair sheep wouldn't make better dairy animals as there is no lanolin to contend with. I have noen so I can't really say. I have milked several breeds, only one of those is considered a "real" dairy breed the Rideau Arcott. They seem to have a fine soft wool too but I'm new to wool expertise myself. I know we have a few wooly types through the board here and there are some threads if you search back too. Your not asking too much but do move slowly to get the sheep you want. It can be hard to get rid of a "starter" flock!
     

  3. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    From a google search on Dairy sheep:

    The East Friesian breed is the most common dairy breed of sheep. Just as a cow dairy would typically start with Holstein, Jersey, or another dairy breed of cows, a sheep dairy would be advised to begin with a dairy breed of sheep. With the importation of half-Friesian rams, along with semen, there is now percentage breeding stock available in the United States. If you already own a flock, the most economical way to begin a dairy may be to breed your ewes to an outstanding dairy ram, and keep back the best daughters to build a dairy flock.
     
  4. The East Freisian is a breed that would satisfy your needs. Very good milkers and the staple length is 4 to 5 inches and handspins beautifully, a very white fleece also. This breed is also probably the most docile. The also come in black.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Calvin are E.F.s hard to keep if you're not milking? I'd heard they they would out produce the twins or triplet lambs requirements and be prone to mastitis in a non-dairy flock. Rideau Arcotts have east freisan in their pedigree, and I would agree from the EF's I've seen that they are docile, and it would seem to be a dominant trait in the cross breeds. Can't say I like EF's for anything but milking although I'm encouraged to hear the wool is useful! How much would a fleece weigh? The ones I've seen had a sparce fleece compared to most wool breeds. There are other dairy breeds like the French Lacune, British Dairy Sheep and even Awasi but like the Rideau Arcott might be more difficult to find in some parts if at all. Any sheep breed can be milked with patience and training and have good results. The biggest difference will be in the length of lactation and volume at peak. If a breed has slow growing lambs the lactation will be longer if the lambs grow fast (Hampshire is a good example) you'll have a shorter lactation with more output. Except for being slow learners the Hamps were great milkers. Interestingly meat breed sheep will also have a higher cream content (and solids) in their milk compared to East Friesans at least. You can feed for cream and EF's should increase milk solids from what I've been told, just at the cost of volume. Can you tell component pricing wasn't in place?? :p Important if your making cheese as the solids and cream are what make the cheese, the rest is water! A few are not easily adapted to milking and the more primitive the breed I'd expect to be the hardest to train. My North County Cheviots were the worst and more than a few had to be pulled out after a couple of weeks of trying to machine milk them.
     
  6. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    Well, I would look into Polypays. They are very good mothers & milkers, and they are also known for their wonderful wool. It is a newer breed, but it was on a list of good "milking sheep" that I recently read about before we bought our milking goats. We bought 2 ewes & 1 ram recently down here in Colorado, and I also grew up raising some polypay. They usually have 2 or 3 lambs, milk great (of course, you have to breed for this too), are good for meat too, and I have heard many wool spinners in this area swear by their wool as the best. I have never milked a sheep, though, so I don't have any personal experience in that area, but I do know that their lambs grew really well (on the good ewes, of course), and they always had nice sized bags.
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    You don't have to read a lot of my posts to know I luv my Polypays too. One of the most versatile breeds out there. Mine were reasonablely good milkers. No meat breed is going to out produce a dairy type except for the occasional animal. Sheep's milk is primarily used to make cheese as it is naturally homoginized and might be hard to seperate for cream use. With close to twice the fat and solid content of goat or cow milk you'd want to need added fat in your diet drinking it!
     
  8. Rosarybeads

    Rosarybeads Well-Known Member

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    I had no idea that sheep's milk had twice the amount of fat. More butter? :p Does sheep milk taste good, compared to say, goat's milk? Or does it have a different taste? I may end up trying to milk my sheepies. :)
     
  9. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Sheeps milk is wonderful!! Almost to rich to drink as it is rather sweet. Makes outstanding cheese, Ice cream,, etc,, etc..
    Will not have that goat flavor you can get with Goats milk.

    If you are just wanting to do this for yourself. Any sheep breed will do. You must find one with a very gentle temperament,, bottle raised is best
    (only bottle raise ewes),, make sure it is handled all over when young.
    Find lines that have well put together udders, with teets big enough to milk.

    I had some Brecknock Cheviot ewes with some outstanding udders. (Milk was good too)

    Ross is right the EF,, can be a hard sheep to keep healthly and they can be very labor intensive.