Sheep or goats?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by PlayingInDirt, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. DragonFlyFarm

    DragonFlyFarm Well-Known Member

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    I have heard that people use junk fleece as mulch or compost it. It takes forever to break down, so I don't think I would use it anywhere you may be weed whacking in the future...what tangled mess that could be :) Lots of stickers are pretty awful to deal with, even when you are shearing them. Once your field improves, there are lots of people that are thrilled with a cheap/free fleece (around here at least) if you are not planning on using them yourself. Best of luck to you!
     
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  2. danil54grl

    danil54grl Well-Known Member

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    I have never gotten the chance to play with sheep but I do love my goats!! So much personality. I don't have many problems with predators except for bobcats and coyotes. I leave the horns on for just in case things happening. I have had a couple dogs find weak spots in the fence and the adult goats were able to put some fear in those dogs. Goats are tough and can survive in most climates and terrains. Milk taste good too and can be used in making cheese and soap. Sheep's milk does make some good cheese too though. . . Manchego aged 6 mo if a favorite. Havent had a chance to actually taste sheep's milk. Sheep just don't do well in south TX. My uncle in CO did say that it was hard for him to keep sheep. He had to be out when the babe dropped or it would die. This was coming from mom so didn't get to question him on the why's. We had 13 goats born this season. All moms did fine except one. Her babe got stuck half way so got pulled the rest f the way. We have a small farm.
     

  3. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    Tethering usually ends poorly. That has been my experience. Possible outcomes can include, tangled on the tiniest weed stem, wrapped around legs, broken legs, hanged animals, and predator meal on a rope. Anchoring so that it doesn't come loose or tangle up and so that they can reach water is always a challenge. Sheep and goats are both herd animals, so they like each others company, try tying two out and having one pull up his stake if you want to see a real tangle.

    As far as fencing, if it has overhanging trees or brush, goats can be hard on it, they will stand up on it and eventually ride it down. Sheep aren't as bad for that, but will reach through it. They can end up pulling steeples out, and eventually breaking wire here and there and popping through it like water going through a sieve. Sheep and goats with horns, as well as wool sheep can get stuck in woven wire, possibly dying there.

    Electric fence can be a good option, electro net is easily portable for unlimited grazing configurations. Electric can be less effective on sheep with heavy wool. Some goats can jump. Nigerians and any of the swiss breeds particularly. There are goats out there that can stay in three strands of electric wire.

    Male sheep or goats can be aggressive. In my experience sheep a little more so. Rams generally back up and ram, bucks will rear up and hit down. They both indicate their intentions with posturing if you are cued in, but a sheep is more likely to get a cheap shot below your field of vision. Horns can be dangerous on either, but most rams curl tightly with blunt ends, goat horns can be like daggers and sweep out. With proper handling not really an issue with the aggressive males, but something to think about. Many breeds of sheep don't have horns, the majority of goats will need to be dehorned if you don't want horns. Male sheep smell a little more funky,all sheep tend to have some odor. Male goats in rut usually smell horrible, female goats tend to not smell much at all.

    With grazers versus browsers, you are likely to start with good goat pasture and end up with good sheep pasture. If you ever decide to do both, remember that they can impregnate each other but these pregnancies don't advance to full term, usually not lasting anywhere near long enough to even stimulate lactation. Such pregnancies with their associated abortions can cause infection.

    Goats can have a tiny bit more "personality", they tend to be a little more independent and interact a little more with humans, while sheep tend to be more herd oriented and single faceted, with less individuality. Generally. Either one can be wild and crazy or in your pocket tame depending on handling.

    Neither is particularly resilient when managed improperly, some people tend to think that goats are "tougher" but that is not really the case. Sheep with wool can take cold wet weather without shelter, but would need shade and shearing in hot weather. Goats don't like rain at all and will seek and use shade in hot weather.

    It is probably easier to find good goat hay in most places than good sheep hay, sheep will waste a lot of stems, but while goats love hay with some stemmy weeds, neither is particularly fond of the real strawlike grass you will find in first cutting hay. Second or third cutting is better for both, but is usually snatched up at highly inflated prices by horse owners, whose animals absolutely don't need it if they aren't being bred or worked hard.

    At one time, finding a vet that knew the subtle differences between sheep and goats was hard, they had plenty of information on sheep, but little on goats. This has changed with the increased popularity of the boers in 4-h show circuits. Before that, goat owners were either very savvy dairy oriented people that did their own vetting, or they didn't view their goats as worth giving veterinary attention. If there is much commercial sheep production in your area, it might still be a tiny bit easier to find a capable vet should you need one, and there has been a ton of study done on sheep compared to goats in this country, historically, so even a vet that is not into large animals as much might be of more help if you have sheep.
     
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  4. dyrne

    dyrne Well-Known Member

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    Goats definitely edge out sheep when it comes to pet quality personality and friendliness during milking. I don't think you could begin to compare goat milk to sheep for cheese making. Sheep wins. I'm about as far from an expert on dairy sheep as you can get but I've often lamented the lack of a solid dairy hair sheep breed around here. It would be pretty interesting to find some katahdin or st croix with good udders and give it a go. You could always do a one-time introduction of some friesian into their line.
     
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  5. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    Excellent advice, thank you very much!

    I'm hoping we're able to get some fencing done next spring and summer. We'll see, I'm still mulling it over. Wanted to get started next spring but we've had a lot of stuff come up, as expected.
     
  6. cfuhrer

    cfuhrer Wood Nymph / Toxophilite

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    If you've never milked before I suggest finding a sheep breeder and a goat breeder that will let you come and milk their animals.

    I don't have much experience with dairy sheep but I have had to milk sheep for feeding babies and there is a world of difference between the udder quality and the "on-stand" temperament of goats and sheep.

    Because you are wanting to dairy I would put an emphasis on the animals that will dairy to your liking.
     
  7. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    I'm planning on getting 2 pregnant ewes who have already been milked so they know the drill. It'll be more expensive but I'm thinking more time efficient also.

    I'm also considering getting my feet wet with a couple spring lambs for meat. I'm not sure if that's cost smart rather than birthing my own. But I have no idea how much it will cost to winter two sheep.
     
  8. Bearfootfarm

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

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    Full grown Rams can easily kill you.
    If you want milk though, you need to stick with goats.
     
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  9. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    Please
    Could you please explain why? Because it seems by my research that sheep would be a good option. We want it for cheese and soap making. I'm certainly willing to try both though and see what we like better once we get our fencing up.

    We're not getting a male animal either way. I'm even going to eat my rooster.
     
  10. Bearfootfarm

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

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    There is only one breed of "dairy" sheep that you're likely to find.
    (It's also a wool breed)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep_milk



    There are multiple breeds of dairy goat.
    The goats have larger teats and will typically produce far more milk.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat#Milk.2C_butter_and_cheese
     
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  11. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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  12. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    Don't feel trapped by the whole dairy "breed" thing. My grandmother made a lot of butter with hereford cow milk. Do commercial dairies use herefords? No, of course not, but that doesn't mean that beef breeds don't have milk. Even if you stick with "dairy breeds" of goats, you will find plenty that don't milk as much as advertised. Especially figuring that they now have dairy breeds that were formerly bred to be food for large captive felines. In the end it is about finding the right animal for your needs. A lot of times, an extremely dairy animal is a little more than most people are prepared to take care of. They can literally milk themselves to death. Very high caloric needs that call for a specialized diet. A less productive animal can tend to be "hardier". If you wanted to milk sheep, because you wanted sheep more than goats, I wouldn't get hung up too much on the lack of dairy breeds. Any group of ewes is likely to have an individual that is milkier than the rest, that could be used to pinch a little milk for dairy projects. Understand that sheep milk is typically used for cheese and similar products, a big cold glass of it is definitely an acquired taste, in terms of fluid milk. So for just pinching a little milk here and there for a batch of cheese, you could easily get away with a non-dairy breed. And if you go with something like a finn, you might find out that they are pretty darned milky, regardless of what wikipedia says about it. You will find more data on milk goats, than sheep, in terms of milk test records, which is about the only way you can quantify things. Sheep tend to be flash in the pan milkers. They hit hard and heavy, and then dry off. Some lines of dairy goat are like that. If you want a long lactation, you are more likely to be happy with the right goat. Even with goats, a guaranteed yield is going to take quite a bit of homework and selection beyond just making sure it's the right breed. There be a lot of breeders breeding these "breeds" and most of them are breeding for different things.
     
  13. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    I think the main reason I'm leaning towards sheep is because of the meat factor. I don't enjoy eating goat as much as I enjoy eating lamb. When I first got my property, I was set on milk goats, family is gonna drink goat milk, done deal. But now I'm like, lamb is so expensive, meat is so expensive, why not breed for meat AND milk. I don't see my family drinking sheep milk exclusively but looks like, in general, it's higher in fat content and better for cheese which is my primary purpose. And its just me doing the animal care for the most part.
     
  14. dyrne

    dyrne Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested in dairy sheep and I like the idea of people getting into it but if you have room you might also consider a guernsey or jersey cow. A decent producer and you'd end up with enough milk that you could make a ton of cheese and also at the same time could support several calves. Bottle calves can be had for like 50-100 bucks. Just depends on how much room you have.
     
  15. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking we don't have room or terrain for a cow. It's pretty slopy.
     
  16. jaybone

    jaybone New Member

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    We raise hair sheep (katahdin/dorper/barb cross) and have been very happy with them. They mostly shed in the spring, so no shearing. Parasite resistance has been very good, they are easy lambers and good moms, prefer weeds to grass and apart from the breedin ram are very docile. I use only electric fence and have had no problems keeping them in. Meat is excellent quality too. I think hair sheep combine all the good traits of sheep and goats, and are great as long as wool is not a goal
     
  17. Mike CHS

    Mike CHS Well-Known Member

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    That sounds like an ad for the Katahdin Association but I agree with every word. :)
     
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  18. Bearfootfarm

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

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    It's hard to beat a Dorper/Katahdin cross for good lambs.
    2006 Lambs 006_edited.jpg
    These are a week old and in about 3 months will look more like:
    Buford 004.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  19. Mike CHS

    Mike CHS Well-Known Member

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    I like the colors and especially that black and white one.
     
  20. hiddensprings

    hiddensprings Well-Known Member

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    We did both. I had a lot more goats since I preferred them. But we also like lamb chops so I had two ewes and a ram.