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Author Topic: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?  (Read 6527 times)

Raine

  • Joined May 2011
  • Lincoln
Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« on: October 03, 2012, 09:09:02 pm »
Hi there  :wave:


This is my first post (prob of many in the coming months).


My husband and I are a few weeks away from moving into a 2 acre smallholding in Lincolnshire. The owners currently have 4 lincolnshire longwool ewe's, but are passing them on to an enthusiast.


I have found some lovely looking Balwen sheep nearby, and have taken a shine to them.


Are they a good choice for the complete sheep novice?


Thank you  :excited:




humphreymctush

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • orkney
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 06:03:32 pm »
yes, they will be easy to look after and easy to lamb, particularly if you breed them pure.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 06:11:15 pm »
I think they are lovely looking sheep. There is a small flock near here and they look grand.


A farmer told me you only see them as blobs on the horizon ...... flighty. But you read the same about a lot of the primitives and I think many on here would disagree with that.


Good luck with your sheep keeping and holding.  :thumbsup:   ;D

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2012, 06:14:00 pm »
I would have thought they'd make a good starter sheep. They'll be healthy and lamb well plus they're bonny  :thumbsup:

I have Shetlands which I have largely trained to a bucket now and half of them eat out of my hand. The training is well worth doing, it makes life easier and it's nice to have them come to you  :)

Daisy-at-the-dairy

  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 08:14:17 am »
I've not kept them myself but I looked at them too and was told by those I asked that they are flighty and difficult so the "blobs on the horizon" theory could be the right one and no good having pretty sheep if you never see them! One person whom HAD kept them said "there's a reason why they're rare." nuff said.


Have you considered Black Welsh Mountains? Again, not kept them myself YET but have been researching them this year with a view to purchase next season and I'm not hearing the bad stuff I heard about the balwens. Yes, they are bred for the hills but they are pretty much universally quoted as being the easiest to handle of the welsh breeds


If you want easy and can do without black wool, think about llanwenogs which have a reputation for being calm and easy to handle. I bought 4 ewes this summer to add to my mixed flock and they seem friendly so far, we'll see how breeding goes.  Alternatively, think about the many downland breeds - at least they have shorter legs so can't run so fast!


Good luck with whatever you choose!

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 08:42:18 am »
Shetlands are supposedly flighty too, which is why I gave the example of having been able to train them to food. Sorry didn't explain well enough. I think many primitive breeds have the tendency to flightiness - but it seems it can be overcome in many too.

The way to begin would be to buy lambs and keep them for a while in close quarters, til they got to know you and learned you were the source of all cake  :D I had my Shetlands in my goat paddock for a fortnight to begin with and that helped too.

Or, as suggested, you could have a calmer breed.

My Dad is just buying Ryelands, which I'm housing for him at present. Great soppy, fluffy things  :D They'd be easy to handle on a day to day basis for sure but I gather you have to be careful of getting them too fat (they want to get fat) or else lambing can have problems - don't have any experience of that yet. My Shetlands lambed beautifully this year, despite all being first-timers.

The other thought for starting with sheep is to get whatever is the local breed. That way they'll be easy to buy, the local farmers will know about them and will be able to give you advice, and you'll be able to sell locally too. I started out like that, kept Rough Fells, very local to here, for 5 years and learned about sheep in that way. 

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 09:56:10 am »
I think some of the breeds with a reputation of being flighty may just need handling in a slightly different way to the calmer breeds. On a small scale people tend to do that anyway eg. they don't have a sheepdog so rely on bucket training. There is a thread on here about keeping Soay ..... known for their flightiness ..... maybe good to read.


Think they have their own breed society so maybe good to speak to them.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
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Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2012, 07:54:18 pm »
I think you will find most hill and mountain breeds are flightly .... wouldn't last long on the mountain otherwise.  However reared to a bucket most sheep will be reasonable to handle.      I'm planning Balwins.

Linda
Linda

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ChaseView

  • Joined Mar 2012
    • Chase View Farm
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 03:30:17 pm »
Hi
We bought a ready made starter Balwen flock (6 ewes of various ages)  and were complete sheep novices at the time. I have to say ours were **really** flighty and therefore very challenging to care for! They weren't bucket trained at all and despite long hours in the field they remain pretty much wild. They are still absolutely terrified of us which made lambing traumatic for everyone. Plus we used a pedigree Balwen ram and didn't have an easy time of it (only 2 from 6 got pregnant and 1 ewe was very premature with a stillborn twin). In comparison our Dartmoors and Jacobs are so tame and easy to handle.....(haven't lambed them yet)

It would probably be different if the Balwen were already bucket trained or you were starting with lambs but maybe be wary of buying untrained ewes. I really wish we hadn't!

Hope this helps  :)


onnyview

  • Joined Dec 2009
    • onnyview free range produce
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 07:33:18 pm »
Agree with Lahill. We kept Balwens for nine years and there wasn't a better day than when I waved them goodbye, especially the crabby old tup.

On the positive side they are very good mothers, small enough to turn over to do their feet and look pretty.

On the negative side they are flightly, a pain in the butt to get in, in fact we had one you we christened Physco and we had her as a ewe lamb and after 7 years she was still a miserable old  :innocent: .

If you get them young, bucket train them and don't keep them alongside another more docile breed you'll love them.  :eyelashes:

Onnyview free range produce- Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Hill Radnor and Llanwenog sheep.

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Backinwellies

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Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2012, 12:40:39 pm »
so has anyone a positive view of Balwins?  I'm not a sheep novice but getting older so can't run about Like I used to.
L
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
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Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2012, 01:28:17 pm »
so has anyone a positive view of Balwins?
They are the prettiest of the welsh mountain sheep :).  (imho)


I would just go and see some flocks on farm, and see what they are like.  I have heard of some being really wild, and yet I've seen some that aren't, so it will depend on how they are brought up.  Find a seller who has calm ones, and get them to prove it to you before you buy :).  And getting youngsters will help too.

Raine

  • Joined May 2011
  • Lincoln
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2012, 05:02:54 pm »
Thanks for all the comments.


We did go and pick them up, but I have to agree, they are a bit wild!  :innocent:  One threw itself over the wall into our stream  :roflanim: (it just looked shocked that there was water there rather than grass and legged it up the other side).


I am hoping, once we have moved in, that getting them into a more confined area and feeding them there daily will begin to calm them down  :fc: . They hadn't liked the pony who had invaded their field at the previous holders farm


I'm sure they will be fine and at least they will look pretty (our fields aren't that huge)  ::)

Chris63red

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 09:02:49 pm »
Well done , good luck very flighty from what I hear & have seen - we considered Balwen but opted for Badger face Torddu.


They are a very nice Welsh sheep breed and as your confidence grows I am sure you will enjoy them.


Chris
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princesspiggy

  • Guest
Re: Balwen Sheep as a Starter Flock?
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2012, 03:18:29 pm »
we had 2 ewes once and i loved them, if i could have got a bigger flock, i would have, i just couldnt find anymore up here.
one was fine and the other was batty  :D :D

 

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