Too many breeds: which one?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by canine14, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. canine14

    canine14 Well-Known Member

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    Hi there,

    I am a new hobby farmer and am seriously interested in getting sheep. I primarily want the sheep for wool, but I would possibly also like to milk them. I am confused as to which breed would be best. I am looking for a docile, easy first-time-shepherd breed that is hardy because the climate here in Ontario, CAN can be harsh in the winters.

    I have read all of the breed profiles but am still confused. For example, East Friesians are good for dairy but not as great for wool and Shetlands are good for wool but are not really milkers.

    Any reccomendations? Again, I am mostly interested right now in wool and fun, friendly sheep (until I am a bit more experienced).

    Also, does it matter if the sheep are registered or not?

    Thanks.
     
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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  3. Suemo

    Suemo Well-Known Member

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    Essentially, you can milk ANY sheep you put your hand to... I have seen too many "milk" type sheep that milk less than the Suffolks I have! I would suggest that you pick a breed you are happy with for fleece... It depends on what you enjoy spinning... Whether longwools like Leicester, medium wools like Cheviot or Columbia, or a finewool like Rambouillett or Merino. Most any breed will thrive in cold climate. Mud and extreme tempurature changes happen to be a sheep's worst enemy.
    Once you pick out the breed you want, then pick out a few mature ewes that have weaned out heavy twins or triplets. I bet they'll milk better than most East Fresians that you find!
    Autumn
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    A Rideau Arcott may be what you're looking for. They have Rideau and Fin in thier back ground (and more) were developed at the experimental fam on Ottawa, (ARCOTT Animal Research Centre OTTawa) Friendly, a medium lenth wool with a nice crimp to it, and it both felts and spins well. They are used as Dairy animals, throw lots of triplets plus, which may not be as desirable for you if you don't want meat. Lots of breeders around Ottawa, I've bought from Dwayne Acres in Osgoode and Philip Jones in Perth, both have excellent stock. Registered stock means you can sell breeders more easily, unregistered will be cheaper. I can get you phone numbers for them if you want but they're not here at the computer.
     
  5. woolyfluff

    woolyfluff Well-Known Member

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    There is a lady in Canada that raises Icelandic they are NOT just white BUT comes in quite different patterns Great two different typ3es of wool G reat lambers Great for milk and gfast growers for meat check www. isbona .com for some one near you there in Canada AND one important is that all you have to feed them is grass and during the winters Its is best to let them stay outside all the time Remember they are from Iceland just a few yearago they STIIL havew all the old trate
     
  6. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Woolyfluff, curious about the Icelandic fleece comment. They have two types of wool now? I was under the impression they were all double coated with long staple lengths...have single coated strains been developed?
     
  7. canine14

    canine14 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you everyone.

    Although hardy, according to the breed profile, Icelandics are not docile and they do not have a great herding instinct. I did inquire about some though from some shepherds close to me.

    Ross: Rideau Arcotts versus polled Dorsets? I have sent an email to Dwayne Acre's daughter regarding polled Dorsets. I am under the impression that they function the same for milk and wool but that the polled Dorsets are more docile. Am I wrong?

    Thanks.
     
  8. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

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    If you want something easy to handle and easy to find, polled Dorsets are good. With a little work the ewes will follow you around and eat from your hand. The rams are usually easy-going, too. A good all-around sheep, and good productive mothers, too.
    Personally, I also like Cheviots, but they are more high-strung than the Dorsets. If you don't care about having purebred sheep, we have had very good success with crossing a Cheviot ram onto Dorset ewes. It produces smaller birth-size lambs which makes for very easy lambing, a nice looking, blocky-type sheep that isn't too big, and Cheviot rams are smaller and easier to handle. The Cheviot also has a harder, black hoof, while Dorsets have a softer, white hoof, if you live in an area which is prone to be muddy. Also, the high-strungness comes out in the cross, they are calm like Dorsets.
     
  9. Petsguy

    Petsguy Well-Known Member

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    Just my 2 cents on the icelandics. This was my first year lambing with them. They did well for me. Not really any problems compared to some of the other breeds I have. As for temperament, mine are not agressive at all. The little ones that I had this year were quite friendly and curious. My adults will come to me and feed from my hand. Even my ram will come to me and eat out of a bucket. They do tend to be somewhat independant, but will flock on occasion. I run my ewes with my shetland ewes and they tend to be ok together. I actually saw one of my icelandic ewes allow a shetland lamb to nurse on her. Thought that was interesting. I was going to give milking a shot this year, but just didn't get around to it. I have to say that my experiences with the icelandics have all been good.

    Take Care,
    Jeff Port
    Smallville Miniatures and Exotics
    Peoria, IL
     
  10. Clare Q

    Clare Q Member

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    Just want to chime in on the Icelandics...This is my first year with them too. When I was young, my dad ran a large flock of commercial ewes, so have been around sheep. I have been really pleased. They lamb easily, are up and going so fast without help, they ewes are really good mothers. My ram can be ornery, but that is just a ram. He is a kittycat when confined away from his girls. They come when called with a shake of the bucket. One ewe is such a fierce protector, I can not imagine a coyote or anything taking her lamb, but yet will let us handle her and the lamb OK. I have enjoyed working with the fleeces, (spinning and felting) and have found a ready market for my excess. I want more!!!!!!!!!!! please!!! :)
     
  11. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Bluefaced Leicesters have marvelous wool, flock well, and are very friendly and docile. They milk very well, too.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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  13. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I'm going to chime in on the Icelandics, too. It's my first year with them, as well, and I can walk out in the pasture and put my hands on any sheep I want. In fact, it's almost impossible to walk out there, without tripping over sheep that insist on being scratched and petted! They have obviously never read the books!

    I hesitated on the Icelandics, because I had also read that they were on the wild side, and hard to handle. I like the temperament, I like the smaller size, I love the fleece. I've had a steep learning curve, but I love these sheep!

    Meg
     
  14. rileyjo

    rileyjo Well-Known Member

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    I kept polled Dorsets while living in Central Ontario and was very happy with them. Can't think of any issues regarding weather...very pleasant animals to share my life with.
    Rideau Arcotts would be very high on my list.
    A Finnish friend of mine has been looking for Icelandics for years. We haven't come across many here in N. Ontario.