NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Welsh Mountain Blacks  (Read 451 times)

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Welsh Mountain Blacks
« on: January 16, 2020, 10:55:38 pm »
Evening all

We've been on our small holding for about a year now. Most of that time has been spent clearing rubbish and doing grounds ground maintenance.

We have decided that we want to get some sheep, partly for the upkeep of the land and potentially in a years time breed some lambs for meat.

We have been suggested Welsh Mountain Blacks to start with as they are quite hardy.

My question is what are your thoughts on these for first time sheep keepers? And also, what rough price would you expect to pay? We are probably looking at 8 to start off with, we do have a decent amount of land for grazing so this can increase as time goes on if this is successful.

Thanks

Kiran
Voss Electric Fence

Black Sheep

  • Joined Sep 2015
  • Briercliffe
    • Monk Hall Farm
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2020, 06:15:46 am »
No specific experience of Welsh Mountains but there are lots of hardy breeds to choose from. They all have a range of other characteristics that may suit your patch or system. Also have a look at what is kept around you - may be a clue as to what will do well, plus what you might be able to get advice about as you start out.

Good luck and expect the numbers to grow  :)

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2020, 09:13:00 am »
Thanks, the recommendation came from someone local who keeps these and other breeds so that sounds possitive. Would you happen to know what a reasonable price to to pay would be?


twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2020, 09:43:13 am »
Most of the traditional native British breeds are hardy, so your criteria needn’t be limited to this. How quickly you want to finish lambs is another thing to keep in mind, quality of grass. I keep Lleyns, another welsh breed, very hardy, good mothers and prolific. My lambs finish before winter so the only sheep I keep over winter are breeding stock and ewe lambs being retained.

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2020, 10:15:55 am »
You are in a great position with no specific breed in mind , so please look at sheep breeds on websites , in the flesh  even at your local livestock market  . It is a  common post on the forum that some one has bought a breed especially a hill breed that is cute to look at but they have big problems handling /catching /moving /jumping fences  gates etc ( they are bred to look after themselves ) . So take your time buy a breed you like to look at , that size wise you can physically handle and IS BUCKET OR BAG TRAINED , comes to you not runs to the far end of the field  as soon as you appear . Pedigree or not is up to you , do not expect to sell more at higher prices just because they are pedigree , it takes a long time/money to build up  a name /reputation , any x bred sheep is still cute and will produce a lamb to eat just the same .  Have fun and enjoy

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2020, 10:52:19 am »
Lots of good advice here, and the salutary warnings of not being too quick to jump into hill / primitive sheep! 

Much will depend on your attitude to sheep and sheep-keeping.  And how you will gather your sheep and bring them in for inspections and treatments.  If you have no dog and not many people, sheep that will follow a bucket even when they think you might be up to something are pretty much essential. 

Now most sheep can become bucket-followers, but some breeds have a much higher propensity to value freedom over food, and are prone to breaking away and making a bolt for it if they think they are about to be captured.

As a generalisation, hill / mountain and primitive breeds are more likely to be of the latter type.  Downs types and highly commercialised breeds are more likely to let greed silence their inner prey animal.

Whichever breed or type you settle on, make sure you buy socialised animals.  Lambs learn from their mothers; how sheep expect to be treated by the humans that care for them will have a big effect on their behaviour around humans ;) 

And of course you also need sheep which suit your situation, and, if you want to breed pure, of which you can source tups from time to time.

You may also need to think about what you plan to do with excess lambs.  If you can finish everything and sell as meat, then any breed will do.  If you need to be able to sell store lambs, for others to finish, then they need to be lambs you can sell locally.

Also, think about what approach to lambing will suit you.  Indoor or out?  Hands-on on hands-off?  Many hill and primitive types are better suited to a later (probably late April where you are) outdoor lambing, and being left to get on with the job.  (Check them with binoculars and only approach if there is clearly a problem.)  But if you want to lamb earlier, or for other reasons prefer a more hands-on, involved approach, then a less independent breed would suit you better.

You are clearly in Wales as Black Welsh Mountain is your local type, and we can probably assume hilly and wet too?  In which case, some of the tamer breeds may not suit the environment - greedy sheep and poor feet often go together, and wet land needs sheep with good feet...

I've no personal experience of BWM (Black Welsh Mountain) sheep, but think it highly likely that, like most hill breeds, they will be independent-minded sheep with a highly-developed prey instinct.  Very suited to your conditions but possibly not so easy to manage as a smallholder.  So if you did decide to go for them, I would say try to buy from another smallholder, one who can demonstrate that his/her sheep will follow a bucket into a pen - and allow the gate to be shut behind them. ;) 


Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2020, 12:30:00 pm »
I would also add a word of caution about hill/mountain sheep. They are very clever and unless reared with lots of human contact they can be quite lively/wild and not always suitable for a first time keeper.

Most sheep are pretty hardy, as a very general guide I would avoid any of the 'longwool' types as some can need more looking after in bad weather.

People seem to like Ryland as a starter breed. I would look in your local feed stores, or online at sites like Preloved and see what people are selling. If you see any that peak your interest go and see them and see what the seller says about them, you really can't beat face to face interaction with the seller.

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Welsh Mountain Blacks
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2020, 11:09:21 pm »
As first timers we chose Badger Face sheep as they were suited to our land and conditions, smaller in size, and are allegedly good mothers. However I wouldn’t recommend them unless you can view them being handled and preferably following a bucket. They have been extremely hard work - as others have said they are more primitive and have a higher survival instinct. We’ve had escapees, they love to jump over and through fences, so generally pretty flighty. We bought ours pretty much off the hill - another mistake! For all that almost a year on and they are slowly getting better but it involves putting a lot of time in.

On the flip side we also got a small flock of Hill Radnors which I would recommend. Also a native breed but larger and more docile and food orientated which helps! These came from another smallholder which made all the difference as they were used to people and being handled. When we got them it really showed how mad those mountain sheep are  :roflanim:

 

 

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