Stupid question of the day

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Burbsteader, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    507
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2002
    Location:
    Western WA
    I do not have sheep.
    I've always wanted a dwarf/mini sheep or goats for self-sufficiency reasons(if I had my way we'd be a petting zoo already) but we have just a small space. There would be about 1/2 acre total.

    I have a neighbor who has a smaller lot than I do yet keeps a single full sized sheep. It grazes their bit of lawn and then is cooped up with the chickens!
    I would not want one sheep but probably 2 mini.

    What is the minimum space that would work for mini (and they are happy and healthy?) These would essentially end up as pets that baaaa instead of bark.
     
  2. sunflower-n-ks

    sunflower-n-ks Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    I had 7 soay sheep on 1 acre for the summer and there was plenty of grass for them. Then when I added three more, they finished the grass, but that was also when the grass had almost stopped growing. 2 soays on 1/2 acre with good grass should be happy campers.

    The soays are small, about 24 inches and are very self sufficent. I like mine very much.
     

  3. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Depends on how much you want to feed it, I suppose. Seven sheep on two acres here and I ran out of pasture. Depends on the grass and growing conditions. I try not to feed May-Sept, but I'm not always successful.
     
  4. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    Messages:
    8,280
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Location:
    Now in Virginia
    At the old place I ran about 10 adult (small) BHC on average.. ..pasture all together was only about 2 acres. This does not include the yearly lambs, chickens, ducks, soay, mini horses or goats. I had it set up that I moved them around a bit, which helped with the grass. However, it would never feed them and they had to be feed hay. Which I did not mind.
    So for a half acre...depending on where you live and the quality of your soil...it might do for two very small sheep. But keep in mind more than likely you will have to feed hay.
     
  5. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

    Messages:
    3,717
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    near Edmonton AB
    And don't forget that most sheep prefer to be kept in a group of at least 3.

    Not all sheep, mind you, bottle babies in particular are apparently happier alone, but sheep have an instinct to flock together and if there's nobody to flock *with* it can be hard on them.

    Depends on the individual, though, but something to keep in mind.
     
  6. DocM

    DocM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,314
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    NW OR
    I shear for a woman who has some icelandic ewes, they aren't very big. She has three on about an acre. Easy to handle and a dream to shear. She does supplement their graze but they're also pretty spoiled.
     
  7. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    507
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2002
    Location:
    Western WA
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I had expected y'all to tell me that I was off my rocker. Now you had to go and give me hope that I can make it work! :p
    I would like to have a small breed that is okay for everything. Fleece, milk and meat in that order.
    Would any mini breed work? After looking over photos I really liked the Chevoit. But I know I would gladly spoil any breed.
     
  8. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

    Messages:
    5,398
    Joined:
    May 2, 2005
    Location:
    SW Missouri near Branson (Cape Fair)
    A bit off topic. Consider a Babydoll Southdown. Very versitile and oh so cute in an Ewok sort of way. I know I'll be getting some one day.

    donsgal
     
  9. sheepish

    sheepish Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,714
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario
    You mentioned milk. Don't expect sheep milk to be drinking milk. It has about 18% butterfat, which does not separate readily. The milk makes great cheese.

    If you want a sheep that you can milk, make sure to get one with long teats. The milk breeds have them, as well as some other breeds and individual animals within a breed.
     
  10. GrannyCarol

    GrannyCarol Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,477
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    Ok, I have to ask - you say its not good for drinking because its very high in butterfat and can't be easily separated? What would be the normal butterfat for a dairy cow - I know the Holsteins are a lot different from some of the other breeds there too. Also, what is the normal range for dairy goats? I am interested in drinking my sheep's milk, so I want to know if there is any good reason not to. Also, I want to know these percents before the milk is processed for the store - I don't consider store milk really milk. :)

    EDIT: I did some research - Cow's milk runs about 3.5% (Jerseys 4%), Goat's milk runs about 4% and Sheep's milk about 8%. That is definitely a consideration, but not as bad as 18%. Sheep's milk IS much higher in solids though.

    Does anyone know the %butterfat in half and half? Just a bunch of questions to throw out there.

    I was aware I'll need to look for dairy sheep, considering Icelandics at this time.
     
  11. sheepish

    sheepish Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,714
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Location:
    Ontario
    You are right, of course. I was spouting facts out of my addled brain, confusing the % I remembered for total solids with the butterfat. I still think that sheep milk has too much fat to be a reasonable beverage. There is no reason to hydrate yourself with a beverage containing 8% fat.

    Half and half is 10-18% butterfat, with 10-11% being the most common. Higher than 18% gets called table cream, over 30% is light whipping cream, over 36% is heavy cream.
     
  12. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    I know a lot of people who love the taste of sheep's milk for drinking...so I guess that's really a matter of personal opinion (mine tastes good in soap, that's all I know :rolleyes: )

    Burbsteader, I'm not sure you'll get much in the way of milk from a mini. If you're not going for a dairy type, then the meat sheep tend to do the most producing in terms of milk (suffolk, dorset and the lot.) I never got much from my romneys. Icelandics may be the way you want to go if you're wanting something a bit smaller but milkable. But they're not what I'd call a mini.
     
  13. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    507
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2002
    Location:
    Western WA
    When I looked at pics of Babydolls I thought Ewok too! lol

    Mini is more important to me than any particular attribute. Really small size is the only way that I could ever convince DH to let me get these. I figured that I could get at least 'some' fleece or milk or meat, but naturally that it would be proportional to the size of the sheep.
    I have also considered dwarf or pygmy goats, but I know that goats can be more difficult to contain and that they are more browsers than grazers. We have a lot of bushes and new young trees that we would have to work overtime to protect. But I would be happy to do it anyway.

    I blame the Path to Freedom site. I can definitely see me taking goats for a walk on a leash. But then I have an odd sense of humor.
     
  14. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,058
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Even on 1/2 acre you should consider pasture rotation. It should help extend the pastures bounty somewhat.
     
  15. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Oh, DD and I have done this with lambs plenty of times, lol! Her bottle lamb last year even had a sweater to wear.

    We've often taken lambs to pet stores and people just think we've got a poodle or something until the lamb speaks up! The girl at McDonalds offered us a dog treat once and I said "No thanks, it's a lamb." Her reply was, "No, it's a dog treat." DD and I laughed and as I was repeating that we had a lamb, the lamb spoke up, too. The poor girl nearly jumped out of her skin. Of course, packaging up happy meals came to a complete halt as the entire crew of workers came running to the window... :rolleyes:
     
  16. The_Shepherdess

    The_Shepherdess Alannaeowyn

    Messages:
    155
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Location:
    SE Nebraska
    Lol! We don't usually bother with a leash, since they follow us around really well and the only excursions into public are to the nearest nursing home, to visit the residents. Burbsteader, I read that 5 full-size sheep will do all right on one good acre, so two or three minis ought to be fine on half an acre. Good luck and have fun!
    I love my sheep. I gotta say, though, Schrodinger's cat has nothing on a pregnant ewe for uncertainty!
     
  17. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,981
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    You want to consider personality. I have Black Welsh Mountains, and they would seem to be what you want, but they are not people friendly. They aren't mean or anything, but they aren't in-your-lap type of sheep. And, yes, you would still need to rotate your pasture, and you would want three.