Potential newbie with questions

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Hears The Water, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi, folks I need some advice. My children want to enter an essay contest sponsored by a local church group. The winners get a free lamb. This lamb will come around Easter. Our problem is $$$$. We realy do not have any kind of enclosure for one lamb let alone the potential of three. We do have an area that we can clean up for them but my husband is hedging on saying yes to letting the kids enter because it will cost money to make a pen and to feed them. Now I know that they will feed us when we have them butcherd and we can learn to use the wool. (I crochet allready and want to learn how to knit but spinning and carding is a whole nother thing.) But what I need is some idea of what it costs to feed a lamb that will become a sheep someday. Or do I butcher it before it becomes a sheep?? How much do they eat on a weekly average? Do y'all have any idea what is best to use for a pen? We do have an area we can put them in at night for shelter and during the rain, if they need that too. If we decide to enter this contest I would definatley start reading up on raising woolies but these are some questions I have so I can make as informed of a decision as I can as to wheater or not we even want to enteratain ideas of rasing these critters. I would appreceate any and all help.!!
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Your kids will be OK with butchering their prizes? It would be hard to cover every aspect of sheep raising in a bulletin board post, but to try an answer your questions: lamb is typically butchered at 100-125 pounds, anything more is really just fat (in most breeds) How long that will take depends on the feed they get. On such a small scale feed lotting them on bagged rations and square bales of hay will be too expensive. They would finish economically on pasture for you with minimal suppliment but in a pen they will require alot more. Grown quickly on an 18% ration and they'll hit a viable butcher weight (80 pounds plus) in 3 or 4 months (normally, but there are exceptions). Grown more slowly on pasture they could take quite a bit longer, anything under 18 mos is a lamb. What to use as a pen depends on the size of pen they'll get. Regular cattle fencing wire works well for sheep. They'll need about 6-8 pounds of decent hay per day and 1-2 pounds of 16-18% grain suppliment. So a bale of good hay will last about a week so you need 16 bales min, plus suppliment say 2 bags of 16% creep feed At $18/bag. That's $68 for feed (here) minimum assuming they grow out well, now add vacine, as a minimum vet cost (no idea, I buy in bulk and do it myself), you might not need to worm, and might not have any problems. The wool may or may not be worth the trouble, there isn't much on a 4 month old lamb. Now I have to ask, how old are these lambs when you'll get them? Are they weaned or on milk replacer? Replacer is brutally expensive. Personally I'd pass in your position, if anything happens it will get even more expensive. Unless you want to learn for future use or raise some tame breeding or wool stock, raising a couple of bottle lambs with profit in mind is pretty tricky.
     

  3. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ross, thank you for your honesty and the info. That is exactally what I am wanting. Yes, the kids are ok with eating their prizes. Or at least they say they are. We do have chickens so they are at least aquainted with death in the barnyard. I was wondering, is it possible or practicle to consider somehow steaking them out in the yard so they will eat grass with the side benifit of not having to mow as much? We live on just under an acre of land that we can use, and I was wondering if that is do-able? I found my copy of Encyclopedia of Country Living and I am reading up from there for at least a bit of info. Do most country processing plants do lambs? My hubby grew up with his father being the guy that all the neighbors brought their livestock to for processing, so he has seen this done and I think he could process them if he needed to. Again, thank you for your help Ross, and if anyone else has any ideas or input I welcome that too. I will call up the people giving the lambs away Mon. and ask them the age of the critters. I agree Ross, I do not want anyting younger than a weaned lamb. That was something I had not thought of. Thanks for the input.
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I've never tried staking out a lamb, we do use a small portable pen to move around the yards with a couple of recovering sick lambs. We have staked out pygmy goats with near fatal results, but lambs are not goats.
     
  5. tami

    tami Active Member

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    When I first got my ewe lambs I staked them out, but also had a small 16x16 encloser of cattle panels. I would only stake them when I was home, my worry was a stray dog... It worked pretty well for a few months, it is an extra chore. I put dog collars on them and staked them to a cement block. If memory serves, they out grew the cement block. Of course you also have the hassle of untangling them from the tree, clothesline pole....
    Good luck.