Which Breed?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by RockyRooster, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    I was going to originally get goats. Even though they may be beneficial, depending on what you are looking for, I have decided that is not for me.

    So, because I know what lamb tastes like (and I love it), and because I want to handspin wool, I have decided to with sheep. I am not really looking into the milk from sheep to drink, just as long as they are good milkers for their lambs. I also want a breed that is pretty docile and independent when it comes to their birthing. In other words relatively low maintenance. I am not trying to get out of work with this animal, I just don't want the work to be to the point where I will end up resenting it.

    Here are my picks so far:
    Acipayan
    Cheviot
    Cotswald
    Fonthill Merino
    North Country Cheviot
    Shetland
    South Devon

    My Question is: Which one would you pick, and if there is a breed I missed that meets all requirements above, can you let me know.

    Once I have decided on the breed, then I will go from there in doing the research on them, how to take care of them, how to house them, pasture them, etc. etc. Right now I just want to start with what breed.

    Thank you for you help in advance. Looking forward to hearing from you.
    RockyRooster
     
  2. backtotheland

    backtotheland Well-Known Member

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    I purchased three Icelandics which are a dual purpose sheep. They have wonderful fiber and are also used for milk and meat. They are very easy keepers and when my ewe had her lambs she did it all on her own. Mine are kind of flighty but they are not at my house yet, they are still on the farm where I bought them until the end of October or middle of November. They are seasonal breeders. The one little black whether I'm taking is very friendly because the Sisters have been handling him quite a bit. The other two are a bit more standoffish which people tell me will change when they come home to me and realize that I'm "the food and treat lady". From what the Sisters tell me they do not require much in the way of grain, as a matter of fact, the less the better. They do like fruit and vegetables though. Hope this helps.

    Donna
     

  3. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Hahahaha! If you want a breed that is docile and easy to work, you might want to rethink Cheviots. :rolleyes: They are very easy keepers, easy lambers, tasty meat, and hardy. however, docile - they are NOT. :) They will learn to trust you, but don't like to be caught, wormed, sheared, etc. They prefer to be left alone to lamb unassisted, too. They are tough little sheep.
    Also, their wool is nice for quilt batting, stuffing pillows, and maybe sock wool, but its not really an outstanding handspinning fleece, nor is it good for felting.

    Have you considered Bluefaced Leicesters? I've had them since 1995, and really like them. They are bigger, but docile, very friendly and people oriented sheep. The rams are usually gentle and easy going. They normally twin or triplet, have plenty of milk, and lamb easily. Very fast growth rate, too. And exceptional wool!!!! If you want to shear yourself, they are a nice choice, since with no belly wool, leg, neck or head, they are a breeze to shear standing up.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  4. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Donna, thank you for info on the Icelandics. Will look into.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    Have you considered Bluefaced Leicesters?
    Thank you Lisa will look into those too.

    Well let both of you know which way I decided. This is so exciting to me.
     
  5. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    By the way Cheviots are out of picks. I want good wool, not batting wool. LOL.
    Just marked off list.
     
  6. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    has anyone ever seen a BFL and Cotswold cross?
     
  7. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Donna, just read that they are not very docile. Let me know when you get yours home what experience you go through with that. Not looking to get til spring so have some time. Otherwise good meat and wool.
     
  8. MommaSasquatch

    MommaSasquatch Well-Known Member

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    I have a few Icelandics and while I haven't got a lot of experience with them (or sheep in general for that matter), I will say that they have been very, very easy thus far. I'm going on a year with sheep now. My ewes are FAT on just pasture, I couldn't imagine giving them anything more until maybe late pregnancy. We haven't had a lambing yet, so we'll see how that goes in the spring. My ewes I acquired when they were already a couple years old and they aren't always easy to work with, but they're not crazy wild either. They just don't like to be caught. Once restrained they're pretty good. On the other hand I also have a ram lamb and a wether lamb of about four months age. They are very docile. The little ram is so well-behaved I can do anything with him. I just sheared him today (a little early for fall shearing, but I wanted him to have a couple extra weeks to regrow his wool before the cold hits.). I shear with them standing and I had a halter on him with him tied on the end of a three foot rope. Since I use hand shears and am not very experienced it took a good twenty minutes. He stood perfectly still the whole time and was a perfect angel. My ewes will stand still and cooperate for me if adequately bribed.

    Frankly I've grown to absolutely love the breed. They are gorgeous and intelligent and grow such lovely wool! I find their care to be very simple and not at all time-consuming. I added a couple goats a few months back and they are ten times the trouble the sheep are, but I don't know how much is the breed or just that sheep in general are easier than goats.
     
  9. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Shetlands. Low maitenance, hardy, easy lambers, good mothers, fantastic handspinning fleece. Most micron in the 20's. And lots of variety in fleece colors!
     
  10. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    I've had BFLxRomney, BFLxBorder Leicester, and BFLxLincoln. The BFL tends to make the wool finer, the locks smaller and more defined, without decreasing the total fleece weight or staple length. I'd think it would do the same for Cotswold wool. For fleece production, I actually prefer the 3/4BFL crosses to the purebreds, since you get more wool from them. My Border Cheviot crosses (called mules) had a slightly heavier fleece weight than the parent breeds, and very long staple.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  11. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    With the icelandics it really depends on the animal. Some are more skittish than others. I've got a ewe here who'll come running to see if you've got treats...actually, for treats they all come running. Just some are shy if there's no food while others hang out. My friend has a flock where they're all pretty docile, some will let you milk while they're standing in the field (certainly not flighty.) But there are probably other breeds easier to work with. Icelandic yarn is really a specialty yarn and you need to market it as such, IMO. It's not soft like some breeds, but makes an excellent sweater (lopi, of course!) Lambs wool is super soft, though, and brings a premium price. It all felts beautifully, which is what I use it for.

    If you can get to a yarn shop where handspun is offered, see what you can find from different breeds to determine what you like. The gal at one of our local yarn shops doesn't like icelandic, and in fact told a friend that spinners don't like icelandic fleeces...but I've sold sheep to handspinners so I guess that's just her opinion :rolleyes:

    Shetlands are nice, too. Wouldn't want a cheviot.
     
  12. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Learning from everyone. Please keep posting. This is very interesting.
    So far still on need to learn more list:
    Icelandics, Shetlands, and Bluefaced Leicesters.

    Along with these:
    Acipayan
    Cotswald
    Fonthill Merino
    Shetland
    South Devon
     
  13. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Before I got sheep, I'd only kept poultry, so I had no experience with livestock. My Shetlands have thrived despite my inexperience. They survive on pasture in good weather and hay alone during the winter with only a semi-enclosed shelter, which they hardly ever use. They've lambed without any help from me, though I did end up bottle-feeding one twin lamb out of a very opinionated first-time mother. I wouldn't necessarily call mine docile, though. Some are very friendly - even pushy, if you've got treats. I'm not big, so I'm glad they're small enough that I can tackle them for hoof trimming, worming, etc withough too much trouble. The wool is lovely, too, though it does vary from animal to animal and, in the case of the lambs, in color over time.
     
  14. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

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    Now I know every one has there own opinion but Cheviots do have good wool, we have Cheviots and other breeds and the Cheviots have the best wool of them all, we have Suffolks, Oxfords, Hampshire and Crosses among them all.

    Just to let you know.

    Melissa

    Check this link on Wool Breeds and Statistic Numbers.
    http://www.textilelinks.com/author/rb/971111.html
     
  15. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Melissa couldn't get to link, might be my ISP. Will try later.
     
  16. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Melissa, I wouldn't be surprised if Cheviots had the best wool out of all those breeds -- none of them are known for being wool sheep. They are all primarily meat breeds. Now, if you compared the Cheviot wool to wool from a wool breed, or even from a dual-purpose breed, I think you'd find that the Cheviot might not stack up quite as well. It does have uses -- all wool does. But you have to decide what you want to use your wool for, then find out what kind of wool is best suited for that use.

    Kathleen, who likes Shetlands, and will probably get them if I ever get sheep again
     
  17. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Okay, I broke news to Dh that I was considering sheep instead of goats. Well, he was happy about no goats, but said that sheep will consume grass all the way down to the root and kill it. That we would need acres of pasture for sheep. I said I am not saying I want a herd of sheep. Just a ram and ewe. Let them do their thing, keep a couple of lambs for wool, let others be dinner.

    With this new education is Dh right?
     
  18. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Not so! I think that's a big fallicy, as my dh had heard that as well. But we've never not had grass grow back, and if you manage your pastures well, you'll always have grass growing. Just be sure to rotate. Ideally, you wouldn't get below 2-4 inches, as that's parasite level. But even when Dolly has made crop circles (I used to stake her out before the pasture was complete), the grass always grew back. Plus, they're better lawn mowers than goats, who are browsers more than grazers.
     
  19. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    Thank you kesoaps.

    Going back to researching. Keep posts coming please. Still have not picked breed.
     
  20. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    I like my border cheviots and bfl's. The bfl's are much more docile to the point of being friendly . Their first instinct seems to be to check things out where he cheviots would be more likely to run. You might check out mules too, which is a cross between a bfl and another breed. There are some members on there you could ask about what they think.
    mulesheep.com