Your Breed & Why ????

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Slev, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. Slev

    Slev Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With sheep season approaching, I just wondered who is raising what breeds out there, and WHY you chose that particular breed??????

    We wound up with Border Leicesters after a few years with DorsetXXX.

    The main reason we went with them is my wife kept buying their fleeces when we went to fiber fairs. I like them because of their clean feet and face and their temperment..... PLUS: I have a few finer wooled ram lambs for sale if anyone is interested....
     
  2. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    We started out with Cheviots, due to their hardiness and ability to lamb and raise their lambs unassisted. We both had jobs off-farm that kept us awy for 12-15 hours a day.
    Then we started looking for a ram to increase the fram size and prolificacy of our flock without lowering their ability to finish on grass. The Bluefaced Leicester fit the bill - but where to find one? We finally located the only flock in the US, and later a couple flocks in Canada. After getting the ram, we fell in love with the breed, and were determined to keep in viable in the US. At that point, there were about 60 of them left. Now there are 30-40 breeders, numbers are climbing, and about a dozen rams have been collected in the UK and semen imported, so the breed is doing well and showing great improvement.
    BFL are very gentle and intelligent sheep that really enjoy human interaction. They are tall, long, elegant, graceful animals. They are excellent mothers with loads of milk to raise twins and triplets with excellent growth rates even on grass alone. They pass all these good characteristics on to their crossbred offspring.
    Their one drawback is that they have a lightweight fleece - around 3-4#, but the wool is so soft and silky and just plain beautiful that handspinners will pay high prices for it, so what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. And of course, no wool on head, neck, legs, belly, crutch area make for clean sheep that do not require crutching before breeding or lambing, and are simple to shear.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhilfarm.com
     

  3. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    I chose Dorper/Katadin crossbreeds because they dont need shearing, can tolerate heat, and have good natural parasite resistance. Wool is more of a specialty market but around here meat sheep sell as fast as you can breed them. They also have a milder flavor than the wool breeds
     
  4. redbudlane

    redbudlane Head Zookeeper

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    We chose Shetlands because of their small size, variety of color, beautiful fleece and wonderful personality. They are easy birthers, good moms and fun pets. In two years we have not had any medical issues at all. I've had to pull one twin so the other could get out (uterus was contracting in front of head) but other than that they have been great. We love them!
     
  5. Goatsandsheep

    Goatsandsheep Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Suffolk, hampshire and dorsets , My kids show and these are the only breeds that will place around here.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    East Friesians here. Had read that the Icelandics would milk, and they do, but I really wanted something more desirable from a commerical standpoint. Still have one little icelandic ram lamb left here, plus a romney (dd's), but otherwise nothing but EFs!
     
  7. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

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    Dorpers. They are fast growing, gain easily on poor forage (rocky Missouri Ozarks), no shearing, good parasite resistance, good maternal instincts, out of season breeders, good temperaments and the meat is mild and tender.
     
  8. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I have Barbados Blackbellies-- NOT American Blackbellies

    No shearing, no docking. Easily maintained on pasture only. Smaller adult size, aseasonal breeding.

    I had orginally thought Navajo Churro, and may stil get some. I am really into rare breed preservation and genetic diversity-- and the 'minor' breeds have a lot to offer that the commercial breeds do not.
    I belong to ALBC and finally found an in-state source for some US developed Chickens-- the Buckeye!!!Another rare breed! My whole farm is centrered arounf self sufficiency and sustainability-- something that is hard to achieve with mass produced anything---

    now, one would ask why choose a rare breed when the idea is to eat them? Because, by eating them, letting others taste what they taste like, creates a desire for more-- in other words, creates a market!!!
     
  9. MommaSasquatch

    MommaSasquatch Well-Known Member

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    I picked Icelandics because I really wanted a multi-purpose sheep that is hardy and easy-keeping. I have been very happy with them this past year and have no desire to try a different breed.

    When I'm being totally honest I have to admit that aesthetics was a deciding factor too. Icelandics are just so darn cool looking! It makes keeping sheep that much more of a pleasure when you have gorgeous animals to look at.
     
  10. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    I started out with corriedale and although these are very pretty sheep with heavy fleeces, this was just not the fiber or the kind of animal I was after.

    We went with finns for their small size, pet-like personalities, lovely and diverse wool types, ease of care (no horns, short tails- no docking, ez to hand shear) and plain old availability. (We 3 miles as the crow flies from a highly respected finn breeder. )

    I still would like to add a few EF ewes.
    I'm thinking of crossing a few soays with the finns to bring back the rooing
    gene, and decrease the number of lambs per litter - but I want polled lines and those are hard to find.
    I was looking hard at Gotlands but they are still too "new" and I have yet to get a wool sample to play with, so that's on hold for now.

    I have also decided to get a cotswold just because I love the way they look and I know I won't be content until I have one. I'm on the lookout for a ewe on the smallish side - again, a hard trait to find because breeders are so hell-bent on bigger-is-better.

    I just have to face the fact that I'm not a one breed shepherd... :)
     
  11. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

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    North Country Cheviots-Very Hardy, handle Ontario weather very well, the -30 to the +30. They hare good at raising lambs on pasture with no supplemented grain. Good finishing lamb. GREAT MOTHERS, The best in my opinion, I like my NCC!! Great terminal Sire.

    Suffolks- We only have ewes, They cross well with the NCC and produce nice lambs with faster weight gains. Some can be friendly and easy to work with.(Sorry thats about all I can say about them) I'll be honest, they donn't have great feet, don't tolerate the cold very well.

    Oxford-Wonderful temperment, Great Mothers, Very Friendly, and calm, Good weight Gain, Lambs do well on Pasture, Great Terminal Sire.

    Melissa
     
  12. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Don't feel bad. I refer to myself as a "sheep snob". :) I too like beautiful sheep - first the brilliant white Cheviots with their upright ears and black eyes and nose, and now the BFL - who fairly float across the pasture, they are so graceful.
    I want a sheep that when I look into its eyes, an individual is looking back at me - not just an empty head.
    I think Icelandics are cool looking, too. :) I love the way their wool drapes down nearly to the ground.

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  13. glidergurl03

    glidergurl03 Well-Known Member

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    I looooove my Shetlands. Cute little fluke tails, soft wool you just wanna play with, wonderful, loving perosnalities...And WOW the colors! What's there not to love about this wonderful, tail-wagging breed? :) Oh yeah, and I have a babydoll Southdown thrown in the mix too...HEHEHE.
     
  14. blue8ewe

    blue8ewe Well-Known Member

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    We have only helped with the families sheep.

    We are looking for a place.
    But our breed choice's are Black Welsh Mountain sheep. They stay true black through life. They can handle harsh, and sparse environments. They are an ancient unmolested breed. Not known for foot issues. Self lamb. Can and do protect them selves.
    Not that we intend to not do our jobs as flock master but the more they can do themselves the better. Seems more healthy to us.

    We would actually like to have a few Southdowns as well. Just because we like the way they look. Want the experience. :eek:
     
  15. CrownPoint

    CrownPoint Well-Known Member

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    We have DorsetXFinn sheep at the farm. Our reasoning is simple we specialize in a HIGH end meat market to NYC and rely on a Ewe to provide out of season breeding with multiple lambs and be able to milk them ALL herself and be a great mother as well. Cornell University has become very successful in producing sheep that will do what I mentioned above. In fact our flocks ancestors are from the University and are breeding on the average every 8 months with great success.

    We also have some Tunis crosses at the house and we are trying to get the Tunis to breed out of season, no luck so far.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Ron & Jennifer Siver
    Good Shepherd Farm
    http://www.goodshepherdfarm.com
     
  16. GrannyCarol

    GrannyCarol Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Still waiting for the right time and resources to get my first sheep. So far I am sold on the Icelandics - blame Kesoaps! I wanted an all purpose sheep and I think they are very nice to look at too. Of course all she has now is one lil ram baby, that's no help! :)

    At this rate, as the weather is getting cold and nasty, I think I'll stay with the ducks for the winter and get sheepsies in the spring, when it's nice enough to set up a pen and to enjoy them. I had hoped to get to know a couple of eyes this fall so we'd be ready for the milking adventure in the spring, but you do what you have to do... :)

    ~ Carol
     
  17. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Icelandics here as well, for pretty much the same reason... they are so bloody forgiving when you do something stupid (like miss a worming... or accidentally breed out of season).

    When we first got into this breed someone in the "industry" of Icelandic farmers was making the joke that yea.. he owns obstetrics equipment... and then he'd hold up a pair of binoculars. Well, after several years of this my obstetrics equipment consists of.. a pair of binoculars. And sneakers with good treads. If you can't run down those twins while they are still wet and check them for sex, forget it... by the time they are dry they can do wind sprints and you'll never get your hands on them unless momma comes in for grain.

    Bombproof breed. My sheds have flooded AGAIN (stupid, stupid design) and my poor sheep are floating on a bed of hay above muck. Doesn't bother them in the least. No foot problems, no infections, no nuttin' except the accidental August lamb who came down with liquid poops and is clearing up nicely.

    Oh... and Icelandics have a homing instinct as well. Someone lost a couple of sheep on another thread. Mine have gotten out and split as well. They go visit the neighbors, eat their maple leaves, wander down and sample the apples at the cottage below us... when I get home I've got frantic messages on the answering machine consisting of "what do we do?!?" because if you try and push them, they scatter. They're a pull breed, not a push.

    I also have a whole flock hanging out in the driveway looking grumpy because they got out, but they can't figure out how to get back in.

    There is a story from Maine about a flock put out on an island for the summer to graze and fatten up in predator and presumably escape free safety. The apparently swam to shore and, over several months, traveled cross country until they arrived home, safe, sound, with wrecked fleeces, at their home farm.
     
  18. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    We have Hampshire sheep. My hubby wanted to raise cattle, but lack of land forced us to something smaller, so the next thing down seemed to be a big sheep and we like the looks of the Hamp and they do have some fast growing lambs. I love the black face and they have clean faces and legs.
    Their drawback is they are kind of high maintenance sheep. If you want them to gain fast they need the extra protein in grain to do that. It's hard to keep weight on them on grass alone. That and they don't twin very often. But, if you want to place at the fairs, these and Suffolk are your best bet around here.
     
  19. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    Shetlands!
    We only have 10 acres, so wanted a smaller breed for a higher stocking rate. The Shetland is small, smaller even than the babydoll southdown (we used to raise both.) Easy to handle, easy and light to tip for hoof trimming.
    Shetlands are beautiful, and I love the exciting colors and patterns. They are naturally short tailed so no docking, and are excellent mothers with strong lambs eager to thrive.
    I won't go broke feeding them or medicating them, and shetland sheep people are just the most wonderful, friendly bunch.
    Horned or polled stock are out there, in both sexes. Great fleece variety in staple lengths and fineness, so a fleece for every purpose. Shetlands have personality and intelligence.
    I am in my fifth year with Shetlands. I have NEVER had a lamb or adult sheep die here, with the exception to the occasional stillborn lamb.
    Regional organizations are sprouting up complete with shows and sheep parties, plus a on-line database for researching pedigrees.
    Shetlands rock!
     
  20. seanmn

    seanmn Well-Known Member

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    Dorpers....Because of their easier going temperments, more non-selective graziers, fast growth, mild tasting meat, no shearing, and they do well in both hot and cold climates
    Im also interested in maybe trying some Finnsheep as well