Shetland Questions

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. I'm considering Shetland sheep, but I have a few questions. When I say sheep I just plan on one to supply my wool crafts (it will have other livestock for company) so probably a wether. Is it ok to keep an ewe without ever having her bred or will that cause problems?
    I like Shetland wool a lot, but it really seems go through drastic color changes as they age. I get the idea from local Shetland owners, and maybe this is wrong, that you can't buy a white Shetland and expect to have white wool for years to come. One year it will be grey, then brown maybe, then white again with spots of black, etc.
    Many of the Shetlands I've been around also have been timid to the point of imbecility, which in addition to the ever varying wool makes me hesitant about the breed. I know sheep aren't brilliant, but when they run and hide in terror every time their owners enter the pen to feed them, it's a bit much.
    So any enlightenment or wisdom on the breed would sure be great. Thanks.
  2. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 15, 2003
    Yes, you can keep one ewe and you don't need to breed her. I've never had that wild a color change in mine. Usually, the colored ones tend to lighten over time. If you get a young sheep, you can raise it for a pet. Left alone in a flock, they do become a bit flighty.

  3. Mystic Meadows

    Mystic Meadows Member

    Sep 4, 2003
    "When I say sheep I just plan on one"
    Do you have other animals? If not I would recommend you get 2 so they have some companionship.

    "I like Shetland wool a lot, but it really seems go through drastic color changes as they age. "
    I also have not seen this wide variance of colour with age. Some colours may lighten with age. On the other hand I've had some of my greys darken. Many may go through a bit of a change in their first year but after that their fleeces seem to even out.

    "Many of the Shetlands I've been around also have been timid to the point of imbecility..."
    This is NOT at all true of many of the Shetlands I know. I was actually drawn to the breed because they are so much MORE docile than other breeds. That being said, if they've never been handled they are as wild as March hares. If you get Shetlands find out how much the breeder has handled them before you buy. They are easy to halter train and many like to become lap sheep.

    Good luck in deciding on sheep. I will say that I totally love the Shetlands for their size, temper, range of fleece colours, etc.

    Take care,
  4. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

    Dec 9, 2002
    I'd go for 2 sheep, just so they keep each other unbred ewe is no problem, but in general, wethers tend to be cheaper to buy. I've found Shetlands to be a nice, handy size, with beautiful fleeces. As for temperament - depends on the sheep, if you spend time with them, they all mellow out a bit; some sheep just elect themselves as "velcro sheep" & will insist on trying to climb on you, nibble your clothes, jump in the wheelbarrow - if you ask the breeder for tame ones, & specify what you want, they should be able to help you. You can see for yourself too, as the super social sheep want to check everyone out for potential goodies & neck scratches :) My whites are not *always* born white - but I've never had whites turn any other color, either. Sheep in the black/grey or moorit/fawn tend to be the most changeable. Here's a pic of a rather promising white ewe lamb, who's definitely a "pick pocket", always looking for treats. [​IMG]
  5. LeahN

    LeahN Well-Known Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    I don't know much about shetlands (we just have dorsets and lincolns) but I agree with others that sheep do better when they have other sheep with them. If you can, definitely get 2. If you don't want to breed, its probably easiest and cheapest for you to get wethers (and its possible they'd be more docile than ewes...I've noticed some of my dorset ewes tend to be a little highstrung until they lamb for the first time. The Lincolns are pretty laid back as a whole, even the rams).
  6. Saw your post and thought I'd add my two cents too...

    Shetlands are a wonderful breed...and I do agree two would be best. Since you do not have any desire to breed your animals, wethers would also be best, and cheapest.

    Color changes:

    I also agree here...that the white lambs I have had have always stayed white. The solid, darker colors seem to vary a bit. Not going too deep into the genetics of Shetlands, Ag sheep will fade generally to "cream" or "white". Since it sounds like you are intersted in dying your wool, these sheep would be fine for your purposes. The breeder will know which of their lines are Ag, and you should be able to get Ag wethers cheap...if not white wethers cheap.

    My best advice would be to visit as many farms as you can, or at the very least visit the farms you are considering making your purchase from before money exchanges hands...then you can see how the sheep react to you in person. I have several sheep who most definately consider themselves "pocket sheep". I have found that when they come from smaller flocks, they tend to be handled more and are therefore generally "tamer".

    Good luck in your search. If you are in Wisconsin, you are more than welcome to come and hang with my sheep if you'd like.:)

    Crestwood Farm, Watertown, WI.
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Guys I'm going to merge this post with this month's breed of the month nearer to January if no one objects! Thanks for bumping it to the top Kate!