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suggestions for good all-purpose breeds for newbie?

830 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  hoofinitnorth
IF I were to get some sheep for meat, milk, and wool, what would be good breed that would be easy to handle, feed, and care for in a cold, northern climate?

Locally I know I can get icelandics and shetlands but I don't know much about them except that shetlands are not a great meat breed (small carcass).

Would be feeding family and pets with the meat and hopefully using the milk for same. Wool could be sold or I may learn ANOTHER hobby! :baby04:
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Hoofinit, I'd go with icelandics up there where you are. They'll do quite well in your climate. If you want milk, be sure to search out people who've been milking their flock, as you'll get a lot of breeders who claim milkiness but haven't a clue because they've never done it. I learned that first hand the hard way :rolleyes:
I would definitely check to see what your copper is like in your region before adding additional. Most often, there is enough in the hay/pasture for sheep to live a healthy life. It's just the added copper in salt/minerals or grains that can be a problem.

I think there are a couple of breeders in AK; not sure if they're milking. You may not find the ewes in milk this time of year; lactation isn't as long on icelandics as it is on dairy sheep, so many of them will be drying up. Don't let people tell you that the rate of gain of their lambs is a good indicator; some ewes give freely to their lambs but refuse to be milked. Also, a large udder isn't a good indicator, either. Ask if they've milked, ask how long after weaning (and how old the lambs were when they weaned), and ask for their daily records. Not saying you may not get lucky and get a couple of ewes that will let you milk, but go into it as educated as you can be :) And remember that you can always cross a couple of breeds to get the desired sheep that fits your needs.
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