What breeds and how many?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Willowynd, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    I am seriously considering getting sheep for several reasons.
    1. my boys are growing up and 1st oldest will be gone soon, 2nd is already in military and 3rd is 15, so a few more yrs home--and that means the grass cutting will be put off on me which already takes a whole day with a garden tractor and a push mower for 2 people.
    2. Would love to have sheep for my rough and smooth collies to herd at home.
    3. for meat
    4. I enjoy watching lambs frollicking.

    I would want a breed that is easily handled (I am 5' 1"), have easy births, are great mom's, don't require a whole lot of upkeep with thier coat and are hardy enough for our winters. I prefer black faced sheep, but the qaulities I listed are more important than looks. I have 3 1/2 acres available for grazing, so not sure how many sheep that would support easily, with some supplemental feeding of course. I still want green grass left :) I have experience with horses so know how to trim hooves and the like, so not totally green--- just green around the edges :)
     
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have California Red Sheep (true breeding cross of Blackbelly Barbado and Tunis). They are all that you ask, plus the ability inherited from the Barbado to have more than one lambing per year. We figure 5 lambings in 3 years is about average, but thats 2 more than normal.

    See this link where we got our sheep from. http://www.nmredsheep.meridian1.net/

    We have lambs due in Mid to late July.
     

  3. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Here is a great link to research sheep. Its even divided into hair sheep and wool sheep. http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/ Now, it sounds like you are not going to be using their fleeces so have you thought about hair sheep? They have a very mild flavor compared to the regular wool sheep. Of course no shearing, they shed out completely in the spring. Katahdins are probably the best hair sheep IMHO. There are also Dorpers and Barbados. Katahdins and Barbardos are what I raise so I know more about those. They lamb twice a year and have mutliple births after their first lambing which is generally a single. Their tails do not have to be docked and they are not nearly as succeptible to worms as the woolies. Barbadoes are smaller, around 100 lbs for rams and 75 for ewes. Katahdins are larger, ewes weighing around 150 lbs and rams 200-250 lbs. As far as woolies go, I don't know too much about them. I raise Shetlands also but they are not really a meat sheep.
     
  4. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Oh and on 3.5 acres of good grass you should be able to run 14-20 sheep.
     
  5. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    I have 12 Finn/Dorset crosses. I live on the NY / Canadian border. They do well in the cold even when birthing at -30. I am getting 11 Jacobs soon, theses are coming from way Northern VT. You might like them. They do not have an all black face each one is different. The babies remind me of little Holstein cows. Do a search and see what you think.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Hair sheep is an excellent suggestion! Hiring someone else to do the shearing can be costly in some areas and hard to come by in others, unless you have the time to do it yourself.

    Not into herding myself (yet!), but a freind of mine keeps wethers for her dogs to work with. Never thought to ask her why...but could be she doesn't want them to be messing with the ewes.

    As for breeds, heck, there's lots of them! First decision will be wool or hair, then begin looking for size and temperment that will best suit your needs. Do you want a breed that is quiet and docile to work with? Do you want a buddy? (Bottle babies tend to be very social.) Look for a breed that's not going to be flighty if you want to be able to handle it easily. I've got one ewe who, although on the flighty side, is easily won over by the rattling of a grain can (she's grain greedy!)

    Are you going to want your own ram, or will you be leasing/borrowing one? A lot of folks will buy a ram lamb and use it for one or two breeding seasons, then put it in the freezer. Rams can be pretty determined when it comes to breeding, so you'll need to carefully consider fencing options so he doesn't breed a ewe that you may not want bred.

    You can eat any breed, you won't neccessarily need a big meat sheep for that. There are many smaller, easier to handle breeds that fall into a dual purpose category (Romney, for instance) that can give you a nice meal.

    There's a lot to consider, isn't there? My sheep are mutts for the most part. Romney crosses, one suffulk, a couple dorset. I'm thinking of making a switch to Icelandics, my daughter is keeping one Romney, the others have been sold. One nice thing about sheep, you can get a couple, see how you like them, then add some thing different next year. Good Luck!
     
  7. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    OK- looked at the breeds and really like the looks of the suffolk. I am able to shear a sheep, can't be any harder than a poodle or a persian cat (they have VERY thin skin so takes skill) which I have done for people. Besides, wouldn't selling raw wool bring in enough to cover the grain cost or at least close to that amount? Or would it need more preparation? Crosses sound like they have less birthing problems from my reading or is that not true. Since I have no plans to show them crosses are fine, and would probably be much cheaper to buy. I do want ones that are easily handled. I do have a question about lambing though. I assumed that sheep could lamb themselves in the pasture and raise thier lambs- is this not the case? I see that people usually separate them from the flock and raise them away from the flock in a barn. I only want to keep maybe 10 sheep---just enough that my dogs can get some herding experience- would that be enough to keep the grass cut? The more reading I do see they require lots more care than I originally thought- diet changes at certain times, worming and vaccs, etc. I realized hoofs would need cared for and worming maybe once a yr as horses, but is the diet changes and all neccessary? It makes sense to have to add hay in the fall/ winter as grass would be under snow, but don't understand why they can't be either grained year round or not at all. I did plan on having one ram that would be replaced with a ram lamb from the flock every 2 yrs. I was planning on just keeping him with the ewes at all times- or is there a reason that can't/shouldn't be done? Thanks for everyones answers to my silly questions :)
     
  8. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Just a word of Warning as my Dad and many friends raised Suffolk sheep for going on 40 years.
    Many lines can and are very high maintance. They get foot root and fly strike easily even with the best of care. They are one of the least smart sheep I have been around. Many can't count at lambing season, and have problems lambing.
    Many are very big, and are hard to handle due to their size. They are very hard on the fencing.
    Never trust a Suffolk Ram, as least the lines I have dealt with. They are quite aggressive, so running him with the ewes can be a problem.
    Best thing to do, is use a yearling as a breeder then butcher him. Use another yearling next year. They are not quite as aggressive.

    I do not want to scare you off the Suffolks, but be aware how high maintance they are compaired with many other breeds of sheep.
    Try looking for more mid sized within the breed.

    Unless you have a lot of pasture and can rotate fields, worming once a year is not going to be enough.
    At the old Farm I had to worm every 8 weeks. Also made sure to take samples in to the Vet to see about the worm load.

    At the same time, their feet were checked to. Some needed to be trimmed every couple of months, and others only every 6 months.
    Depends a lot on the type of ground and genetics of your sheep to how many times a year their feet need to be trimmed.
    Also did a good look over on my sheep to make sure there was no other problems.
     
  9. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I actually really like my one suffolk ewe. She's smarter than your average sheep, as she's great at figuring out how to unwrap herself if she's tied to a tree for grazing (unlike most animals, who just circle one direction and get stuck!) And, fortunately for me, she's on the smaller side for a suffolk. But like Bergere stated, they're usually a large sheep and can be hard to handle.

    A friend of mine just checked into selling to the wool pool here and found they were paying just 20 cents lb. Not enough to make it worthwhile. If you plan to clean it up, color it, spin it...then you can certainly pay for your feed with it. You may be able to find handspinners who will give premium prices per pound if it's a good quality fleece. As for it being no harder than a poodle... :haha: ....well, let's just say my goldens were a ton easier than a sheep! Mostly because a sheep isn't quite so agreeable when it comes to shearing.

    Personally, I'd recommend starting with much fewer sheep than 10, mostly because you'll want to make certain your fences will keep them in (I've got one climber and another who sneaks out on her belly from underneath), and secondly because once the lambs begin showing up you'll want to keep them, too!
     
  10. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, I was planning to start with maybe 4. Just thinking max I would want to keep is 10. I guess I will do some more research on breeds---never know there were so many breeds of sheep! Thanks everyone for your help---I am sure I will have more questions, but would rather ask them before I get them than after I run into trouble :)
     
  11. seymojo536

    seymojo536 Well-Known Member

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    Shetlands, Shetlands, Shetlands for all the desired traits you want and; no tail docking, great personalities, wool commands a premium price ( $10/lb.)
     
  12. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    We have a 100 head of Suffolk, Hampshire, Corriedale, Columbia, and Rambouillet, and I agree with Bergere, our Suffolk, while very lovely to look at, at very hard on fencing and the hardest to handle, stubborn and huge!
    The only sheep I know of that can handle being herded or chased by dogs would be Barbedos. Mild flavor meat and they self shear and are very inexpensive.
    I wish wool would pay for feed! Most people give it to the shearer, I even hear some people bury it ( wont burn, wont compost, landfill charges for it to go into dangerous materials area because it wont deteriorate. ) so unless you have wool breeds and cover their fleeces, like we do, the price is pituful.
     
  13. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    I raise Shetlands and they are not what I would consider a meat breed. Their wool does bring a higher price usually around $4-6 lb and their fleece weighs 2-4 lbs. Even at the $10 lb that wouldn't pay their feed bill. To process the wool you must have a carder and spinning wheel. Both of these are spendy, around $500 for used if your lucky. Or you can hand card which is a major pain and time consuming.
     
  14. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    We have a 100 head of Suffolk, Hampshire, Corriedale, Columbia, and Rambouillet, and I agree with Bergere, our Suffolk, while very lovely to look at, at very hard on fencing and the hardest to handle, stubborn and huge!


    Tell me about Hampshire---I would rather have a black faced sheep. If I can't find one that fits what I am looking for though, guess I will look at the Katahdin or Royal White.

    What do you mean the only sheep that can handle being herded are Barbedos? Isn't it pretty come for most sheep raisers to have a herding dog to help gather the sheep?

    BTW went out to pick up some chicks today and the lady had a Suffolk ewe (pregnant) and a young Rambouillet ram. He was nice to me, but must have seen my teenage son as competition because he butted him into the wall. My son is fine- just took him by surprise---when I get a ram, it will be a lamb and bottle fed.
     
  15. animal_kingdom

    animal_kingdom Well-Known Member

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    I would never become friends with a ram. We keep our ram lambs at a distance. We've only rubbed our hands on their sides to check the hair(Katahdins) We don't want to sell someone a problem and the one we keep for the freezer, we want him to stay back.

    Problem is..as you try to train them to do what you want, they actually think THEY are training YOU to do what they want! They become very pushy with what they want. Eventually they are menaces and then potentially dangerous.

    The ewe lambs we give attention to. I want to be able to inspect them more closely, etc.

    Also I don't know if this applies with sheep or not, but with goats the males get a bit protective of their females. They get that way with human females also. That could be why he did that to your son. Maybe your son was competition in the rams mind...
     
  16. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might want to start out by buying four weanling wethers or rams. Just run them in your pasture for the summer and butcher them in the fall. This way, you have no feed bills, no testosterone problems, and no lambing problems the following spring.

    If you wish to practice herding with your dogs, fine, but they need to learn how to herd with dog broke sheep. This means that your dogs have to first be very obedient, and have excellent recall. You then have to find someone who will help you train your first dog. This person will have dog broke sheep to work with. Some sheep are hard to herd. The more gregarious they are (stick to each other), the easier they are to herd.
     
  17. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    DO NOT bottle feed a ram that you intend to keep as a breeding ram. They will become highly aggressive and dangerous. Once their fear of humans is lost they will have no qualms about attacking you. This has happened so many times on this board. Get one that has been raised with an older ram. That way it will not be dominant and will be much more submissive. My Katahdin ram was raised like this and I really like him. I never handle him unless its shot time. The barbado ram I just sold became very aggressive because I was constantly petting on him when he was younger. I thought it would make him tamer. My ewes are constantly handled and a few are trained to milk.
     
  18. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    Oh Goodness No, please don't keep a bottle fed ram lamb as a stud ram....
    potentially very dangerous.

    The Hampshire would be the same as the Suffolk.

    Its just my opinion but I dont think sheep should be herded by dogs, they don't think they are being herded, just chased. Unless of course you are driving them in off the mountain, but otherwise I think it is just entertaining to the herding dogs at the expense of your flock. They can become panicked and run into fencing, overheated, abort their pregnancies, etc...
    but its just my opinion, plenty of people run their sheep, im sure.
     
  19. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Ditto on the bottle fed ram! Not a good idea. In fact, my neighbor had a ewe bottle lamb that became downright dangerous last year!

    If you like black faces, but something smaller, natural colored Romneys will turn light as they age. I'v got one that was born black and as a three year old is now a lovely shade of silver with a black face, ears and legs. Good size, too. Easy to handle, pick up for shearing, plus nice fleece that people seem to enjoy.
     
  20. rev

    rev Member

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    I'd suggest looking at the Southdown sheep at the Oklahoma State Univerity site- they are reputed to be THE Premier eating mutton breed; and they are small and cute! They have deep grey faces too...

    Kirby