What's with all the minis?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by SusanB, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. SusanB

    SusanB Well-Known Member

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    I've really been researching to find what breed of sheep I want to raise (really fond of Cheviots), but everywhere I look all I find are minitures! Is this a fad or something? We have gone to miniture horses, cows and now sheep too? Of course the minitue sheep have probably been around a long time but this is the first time I've been looking for them and it's difficult to find a breeder of full sized! I live in NY and I thought Cheviots would do well here, but is there a resale market for minitures or is it like the Alpaca scam where everybody wants in and then there is no market?
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Some breeds of sheep are naturally "mini", they haven't been bred down to extra small. Black Welsh Mountain, Shetland, and others are naturally small and they are popular because they can be easier to handle, an important consideration if they live close to you. I have a spinning flock and size is less important than fleece, but I'm happy with smaller sheep. My sire ram is 200 pounds and when he is randy I stay away from him or keep the dog close by me. He isn't mean, but even a half hearted butt is a killer.

    Are you looking for meat or fleece?
     

  3. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why but many humans feel that something is more cute if it is small. I do not like minis of any kind to be honest. No offense to those of you who raise them, I just don't like them. They have major attitude and seem to disregard the social actions of their species, the also look deformed to me. I just don't think animals were made to be that small. It's like the giant cattle in the show ring, extreme is vauled over quality.
     
  4. seanmn

    seanmn Well-Known Member

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    Sprout....I couldn't agree with you more....While looking at some old pictures of my dad's when he used to raise and show sheep way back in the 50's most all breeds were short and stocky....consumers wanted larger leaner cuts of lamb so the sheep got bigger.....He used to raise columbians and back then the judges used to knock his sheep down for being a breed that is too tall
     
  5. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    Sprout and Seanm You both have it-- the extremes seem to "win" By miniatureizing or giant sizing our livestock, we actually do more harm than good. Skeletal changes happen MUCH more quickly than soft tissue changes, and that lack of "keeping pace" is what causes the health issues.Look at brachycephalic dogs and cats-- their skulls have been shortened-- to what good? the soft tissues are still there-- crammed into smaller spaces. There is no lomger room for dentition to grow properly, leading to oral health issues. I have seen Poms so small-- with toingues so big, the tongues cannot fit in their mouths...the mini doxies have so much hydrocpeohalism, it is a wonder more children are not torn up by them-- yeas-- "round" heads indicate hydrocephalism, which causes a LOT of headaches and bad tempers in many of the small breeds.
    Of what uise is a mini sheep? if sold as a pet-- it will never feed anyone. They eventually get old-- and really, are not as "cute" when old as when they are young.. nothing is--certainly, the meat to bone ratio is 'off' if the skeletal structure is correct--

    I have a friend that has and uses a couple Mini horses as Service Abnimals-- I think a standard donkey would have made for a better choice? Why-- because despite the longevity of a mini horse-- the donkey is stronger, easier to keep, and just as long lived-- if not longer. Also-- with th3e minis-- if a person wants to breed for the first time-- where do they go? back to the source-- can one say "inbreeding"? i despise the breeding programs that get centered around just one or two males-- and people who get the minis as pets, are into the "ribbons" in the pedigrees, rather than the quality in the animal--of course, the person they got their beloved "pet' from is "god" as far as breeding goes...

    Now, a couple years ago, I saw a 1 yo male Scottish Highland bull-- he was quite small, but I also saw his Momma-- who was SOOO tall-- the owner told me-- "these guys are NOT fast growers-- they take over 2 years to reach full size" Now Momma had not been bred after the last calf-- so that she could go to the fair--Not as tall as the Holsteins, she was intermediate in weight between Holstein and Angus- good flesh--I could "see" a nice sized, multipurpose animal in her-- and the owners were patient with the raising of their meat and milk!! peole that are into minis and giants don't appear, to me me, at least, to have the patience that one needs to do things well the first time around... I dunno, Miniatureizing and giansizing is a real pet peeve with me-- no matter WHAT the species...
     
  6. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Well, I'm not sure what miniature breeds you are talking about, could you be specific?
    Is someone actually breeding a sheep breed down in size? I'm unaware of this so naturally I'm curious.
    IF you are talking about BWM, shetlands, original cheviots (currently marketed as Brecknock hill), and babydoll southdowns, they are not miniatures. They have NOT been bred down in size to make "toys".
    The cheviot and babydoll are the original of their breeds before they were bred up in size. And shetlands are like the shetland pony and shetland goose. They are naturally small.
     
  7. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Susan B, Sprout, Sean MN, Terry W, would you please name by breed these miniatures you are talking about? I'm sure if someone here is raising one of these miniature breeds, they would love to comment. But they would have to know the breed being discussed first....
     
  8. Sprout

    Sprout Well-Known Member

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    We were not condeming breeds that are naturaly small and have evolved that way, we were talking about the "mini craze" where people are just taking any breed and making a toy out of it when it really shouldn't be a toy. Shetlands are naturally small as are southdowns and icelandics and those breeds are antient. Don't raise your hackles no one is challanging them.
     
  9. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Good! I was trying to clarify the matter before my hackles did indeed stand on end and I let loose with both barrels. Didn't want to "assume", we all know what happens then...lol :p

    So what's the scoop? Are people actually trying to breed down big whites? Why on earth would someone do that? Why not just buy a more moderately sized breed?
    This is one reason I got out of miniature donkeys. They were being bred smaller and smaller. An associate of mine had to have the vet remove a foal in pieces because the mother was too small to give birth. What a shame.
     
  10. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    not sure on the sheep aspect-- but that "cut up delivery" is exactly why Idislike people miniatureizing any animal-- or even giant sizing them--- mini horses are so funny looking-- and how long has it taken to get them to LOOK like horses rather than misshapen poinies? Soft tissues and hard tissues DO NOT change at the same genetic rate--
     
  11. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Small sheep are not a fad, they have been around a long long time.
    They are original sizes,, and not super sized like some breeds of sheep have been.

    Having raised miniature sheep for years, had no problem selling them.
    I mostly focused on breeding stock with good quality fleece, easy to handle sheep with good mothering ability...oh and add Hardy in there.

    My Dad raised the giant suffolks and I wanted nothing to do with them. That is why I got into the smaller sheep.

    My Favorite small sheep was the Brecknock Hill, though I raised others too.
    Had really good handspinning fleece, mine had great temperaments, even the Rams, hardy, a nice all around animal.

    Small animals cost less to feed, tend to be more hardy, easier to handle when one gets older, they never challenged my fencing...just a lot of nice things about them.

    What is so neat, is there are many different breeds of sheep out there, from tall to small and inbetween. That way, people can get the type they would like to deal with.
     
  12. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Terry,

    Many miniature horses are just Original Shetland ponys marketed as Miniature horses. I know my mini's pedigree goes all the way back to Dell Tera and when he brought over Shetland ponies from the Islands.
    They were originally small.

    I happen to love my miniature horses, my Traditional size Jenny, non supered sized(that's original sized) Icelandic's and Fjord.
    Oh, and add my original small sized d'Uccle chickens. There are no larger counter part for those BTW.

    As I have said, to each their own. But I do not dis other people for liking something different.. like giant sized animals.
     
  13. SusanB

    SusanB Well-Known Member

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    Well this was more response than I expected, thank you! You asked about breeds I was talking about. I'll admit that some of the discussion here has clarified for me what breeds are small, but breeders still list them as mini. Here's a link to one that even refers to his Cheviots as toys:

    http://www.toledotel.com/~smokeyvly/S005.htm

    This is a link for miniture Cheviots,

    http://www.minicheviot.com/

    are they saying because they are a smaller breed of sheep they are miniture? To me miniture means you've taken a full size breed, no matter how big it is, and breed it to be smaller than it was intended. The miniture cattle for sale in Countryside mag are a perfect example, there is not a natural or original breed of cattle that was that small, they have definately minitureized a standard cow. Which by the way I find disgusting! Sorry to any miniture cattle breeders, it's just my opinion.

    Susan
     
  14. Petsguy

    Petsguy Well-Known Member

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    Ahh, sorry, but there are small naturally occuring breeds of cattle, the Dexter being one. I also believe that the Zebu is another. I am sure there are a few others out there as well.

    As said earlier, I believe people are using the term Mini for some of the smaller breeds of sheep, ie. shetlands to aid in their selling of them. Some people like the idea of having a "mini" something. I have shetlands, icelandics, and babydolls. Some of my shetlands are larger in size than the others. I was also told that my icelandics are minis, as they are about the size of my shetlands. Having not seen any other icelandics in person, I wasn't aware that mine were minis, I just thought they were on the smaller end of the spectrum. Anyone have any thoughts on that? My babydolls are small in stature, but are a big boned and heavy sheep. Not as easy to pick up and move around as are my shetlands and icelandics, but they are still a small. Regardless, I like my small sheep.

    Take Care,
    Jeff Port
    Smallville Miniatures and Exotics
    Peoria, IL
     
  15. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Susan,
    It is a marketing tactic.

    Ie ... what would sell better and get more money... calling the same animal....
    A.) a Shetland pony....
    or
    B.) an rare mini horse.

    I don't personally like it but that has been around awhile.

    BTW becareful when dealing with the Smokey Valley Farm. Have dealt with them off and on for years and not all is as it seems. She will do or say anything to sell animals at an overly high cost.

    Lets just say not all farms are the same. Just because one calls everything miniature or toy(which to me is just wrong,, no animal is a "Toy"...doesn't mean all do.
    Many Farms call their small traditional sheep, "Heritage breeds" and that is what they are.

    IE..
    Original sized Southdowns
    Soay
    Shetlands
    Brecknock Hill Cheviots
    Black Welsh Mountains
    Icelandics
    Dexters
    Highlands
    Kerry
    And many, many other hardy original sized Traditional Heritage breeds.

    Many are much smaller than the livestock Men have made taller and bigger.
     
  16. SusanB

    SusanB Well-Known Member

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    You've cleared up alot for me. Thanks folks. Now all I have to do is find a nice little starter flock of Cheviots and I'm ready to go. Anyone know of some for sale? Also, if I find some for sale out of my area (Western NY), is there a way to transport them other than going to pick them up myself? I can't see them doing to well in the belly of a 747!!
     
  17. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Glad I could be of help. :dance:

    Annie Cramer up in Tonasket WA has some of her best ewes for sale. But that is not any where near you. She is getting out of breeding because she is getting older and hubby can't help like he used to. She has some of the Best BHC's in the Country.
    You can contact her at..
    acramer@televar.com

    Or Eddie Miller at
    eddieannmiller@hotmail.com

    Either one should be able to get you in touch with some good breeders.
     
  18. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

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    Susan -

    We have a pure Cheviot ram we put to a mixed group of ewes, most with some Dorset in them. So now we have mostly 1/2 Cheviots. We really like them! They remind me of little horses, with their upright ears and alertness. They lamb easy and are good mothers, very cute lambs. Some of them do tend to be small, which in my opinion makes them easier to handle. We had an "ooops" breeding one year, I think it was a bit of inbreeding, and got a little girl who looks pure Cheviot, but tiny, so I guess she could be considered a "mini". Hope you find some Cheviots - you will enjoy them!
     
  19. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    Check out the Border Cheviot website, or North Country Cheviots. I found a breeder that way in my area with some excellent cheviots for sale. They weren't small, or overly large. You can call and ask for a breeders listing and more info on the breed.