The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: chrisgod on January 21, 2008, 12:06:30 pm

Title: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: chrisgod on January 21, 2008, 12:06:30 pm
I have just been offered the opportunity to have use of some land to enable myself and several fellow Francophiles to keep some sheep on! Now being used to looking after some goats and Sheep some 40 odd years ago! At school to be honest I am just a tad rusty? 

The land is around 2/3 acres in size and has previously had sheep on it several years ago. I plan to buy and keep around a Dozen sheep/Lambs. Is there anything SPECIFIC I should be aware of? The animals are to be kept solely for meat production, the idea being we will take the animals on as lambs and grow them on and slaughter them later in the year.

Questions which do arise for me is, What breeds should we be looking at for cost against meat production against others! Or should be we be looking with our lack of husbandry skills even at something more long term? I say this as we are weighing up the cost of keeping animals over winter and feed etc??

Your input would I suspect be invaluable.

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: pigsatlesrues on January 22, 2008, 09:24:03 am
Morning Chris - we have just aquired our first sheep with meat in mind. We have our Ouessants which are mainly for looking at for the people who visit us, but having eaten the meat from this breed because our friends have them, I have to say the meat is so sweet that we possibly will eat some of the offspring in the future.

We have friends both French and English with various types/breeds of sheep, some very large - the French ones, and others ranging quite significantly in size - Rouge L'Ouest, Jacobs and crosses. It is true that the tastes are slightly different between breeds, but in the end we went for size, for me a more manageable medium sized cross Avranche/Rouge L'Ouest with noticeably large chunky legs. We actually went to the lady at first because she was advertising lamb for the freezer on the hoof and atvery low price. We bought two males for meat, and then saw the two females she had left. We did actually have ewe from a friend in mind, but these two just looked a good size, the ewes were chunky and the ram was a really well proportioned and very handsome lad. We just had a good feeling for them and went for it. If their brothers meat is anything to go by then I don't think we will be dissapointed in the meat their lambs produce.

We are organising to import some Ryelands from UK during the next month - they are a choice because I just fancy how they look and for us they will be a new breed here so that is exciting to us. They are reported to be duel purpose and I am informed first hand that the meat is second to none - they also look georgeous which is a bonus for our visitors of course! 

I think as a novice like we are, you should go with something you fancy at first. Maybe get a two or three different types and try the meat from them and see if there is one you prefer. You may prefer the temperament of one type to another - their could be several factors once you have them to lean you towards one type rather than another.

If they are anything like pigs, you may find with a bit of experience that your taste may take you to a cross - you could experiment yourself.

Bottom line is I think what ever you get should just suit you. Before you buy ask your source for a sample of meat to try - we often do that with pork.

Not the best advice, I shall be watching this thread myself to glean info re raising sheep, but when it comes to choices, I have found over the last three years that if you choose what you fancy you never go too wrong, and your experience this year will put you on the right path for next year.

Good luck anyway!


Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: chickens on January 25, 2008, 11:30:59 pm
We have just collected dorset poll x's, we have a couple of sheep running wild on our land and have been doing so for several years but this time we have got the dorsets for meat production, they are slightly dearer than normal sheep but in the long run produce more meat (or so we hope), we have 9 of them plus a ram to keep them busy lol

Really good sheep book which you can buy second hand on amazon is:
Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep by Paula Simmons and Carol Ekarius - full of very useful information.

Best of luck with your sheep.

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosey on January 28, 2008, 06:55:57 pm
We have Ryeland cross lamb in the freezer and the flavour is excellent, even my brother who does not like lamb enjoys it.

I have just got my ryeland ewes and although I wanted three, Roy the farmer gave me five, they are very friendly gimmer shearlings (two year old ewes) and in their first lambing season.

I would consider Ryelands as they are small, easy to handle and seem to be more foot rot resistant.

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Pebbles on February 15, 2008, 01:45:38 pm
You forgot to mention they are soooooooo cute  :D
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosey on February 15, 2008, 05:59:13 pm
I agree pebbles, the ryelands are very cute and ours seem to have lovely personalities. Ivy, head ewe is soo funny she inisted on following me around while I was building the new chicken run and she likes to "help" by moving my tools while I work and yesterday I was not fast enough with the food so she climbed into my discovery!

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosemary on February 16, 2008, 11:10:21 am
Our Ryelands have real personalities too - don´t know if it is the breed or the way they are raised - probably a combination of the two. Ours are soooo nosey and have no concept of running from dogs (or people). Our dogs like the sheep mix and you will find all 5 (3 sheep, 2 dogs) feeding out of the trough.

Jura is the least friendly - she stamps her foot at the dogs. I suspect she´ll be a proper madam when she´s got lambs!
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: woollyval on February 22, 2008, 08:02:15 pm

Hope you don't mind me putting a bit in here!

I have had sheep for about 25 years...too long ::) ;D I actually love 'em and make my living from them! I now only have 10 Ouessants and 3 Dorset x wensleydales having sold my pedigree and commercial flocks before Xmas to concentrate on wool processing!

I would reccommend as a beginner to try an 'easy' breed and ryelands certainly fit that bill! They are docile, easy to handle, taste nice and have good wool.

Many people try and start with something difficult such as soay who run like the wind and jump like stags ot Suffolks and Texels who are very prone to lambing problems............Now there are always exceptions and someone is bound to have some tame soays......but they really are the exception ::)

Try and find out as much as you can about sheep management BEFORE getting them and get on a course or spend a lot of time with a friendly farmer so that you are not forever chasing problems!

I spend a lot of time helping prople with problems/disasters on both sides of Le Manche and forward thinking and preparation can help avoid heartache and suffering to man and beast.
If there is any help I can give please ask!

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Blinkers on February 22, 2008, 08:54:27 pm
SOAYS !!!   What those little devils that I bought 6 years ago and have never been able to lay a finger on since  >:( :( ::)   The only time I've ever get my hands on any of them is when its been ill .....and then promptly died.   Nightmare.   I then went for 3 Cheviots !!  OK, but still a bit scatty....but at least they are reasonably 'normal' sheep and have thrown me some good lambs (X SUFFOLK).   WoollyShepherd - do you have any photos of your lovely Ryelands?   ;D
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: kanisha on February 23, 2008, 12:22:55 pm
lambs have arrived  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: woollyval on February 23, 2008, 12:43:21 pm
Hi Blinkers I don't have Ryelands.....and have just sold my pedigree Dorset Down flock to Eggerdon Rare breeds centre near Dorchester.
DD s are very similar in charecter to Ryelands, nice and easy ;) AND they taste fantastic and hace superb wool!

Congrats Kanisha ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosalie on March 01, 2008, 09:15:44 pm
Hope someone can help me with this.  We are hoping to get lambs shortly, however I need to know if they can be kept on land were we have an adopted pony, can they live side by side or will we have to move the pony elsewhere.

Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosemary on March 02, 2008, 10:42:59 am
Hi Rosalie

In many cases horses and sheep are a good combination for managing grazing. Sheep graze different grasses and in a different way to horses, so they complement each other. Cross grazing can also reduce worm burdens on land since worms are species specific ie sheep can ingest horse worms and destroy them without injury to themselves and vice versa.

Some horses don't like sheep - I have heard of horses killing lambs by picking them up and shaking them but I have never witnessed this. I have seen the horses across the field chasing sheep, but without real aggression. I'd keep an eye on them when you first turn them out, just to be sure all is OK.

Hope this is helpful. I'm sure other folk on the forum will also contribute.
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Rosalie on March 02, 2008, 09:39:12 pm
Hi Rosemary

Thanks for your reply will keep an eye on them, any advice will be helpful never had sheep before
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: Blinkers on March 02, 2008, 10:36:15 pm
Have been studying the Dorset Down Society website.....they look like rather nice sheep, good meat and wool just as WoolyShepherd said.   Anyone out there got any at the moment?   ;D
Title: Re: Starting out with SHEEP??
Post by: woollyval on March 03, 2008, 06:20:11 pm
I knowsomeone in Devon with some for sale! PM me and I will give you the contacts.........ok to move them so long as you are within the blue tongue surveillance zone........which is most of England ::)