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Author Topic: soay sheep  (Read 5501 times)

widget

  • Joined Feb 2013
soay sheep
« on: March 01, 2013, 08:39:51 am »
hi
whats peoples experiences with soay sheep? good, bad what you need to know etc?

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2013, 12:05:39 pm »
We keep Soay.  :wave:


Our first ever sheep and they have been really easy so far. We have kept them for about 3 years now ..... no problems with feet, no shearing, no flystrike


Lambed for the first time last year and no problems.


No escaping or jumping.


Bucket trained within a couple of weeks despite coming from a flock that had barely seen a human.


In our opinion, they are brill!!!! You read a lot of negatives but we can only speak from experience and say they have been great.  Some of our ewes jump up and will have a cuddle  .... they are not wild !!!!


Last years lambs are still here yet and are very tame. They would make great lawn mowers.  ;D

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2013, 12:24:36 pm »
We have kept a few Soay in with our other breeds for the past 13 years.  They have a bad reputation for escaping but ours never have.  They have a bad reputation for being impossible to tame, but ours are so friendly they unzip our pockets looking for treats.   They do always lead the 'breakaway' during a round-up, but if we get the sheep psychology right then that doesn't happen.   They have a reputation for being unworkable with a dog as they scatter rather than flock - we found if you send the dog out then call it back, the Soay will follow it in  ::)   Doesn't always work but it does sometimes and is good for a laugh.
Being small and hardy they do well on rough grazing with a bit of browsing, but we do give ours a bit of concentrate coming up to lambing - nothing like as much as commercial breeds, just a handful really.
 
They tend to have trouble-free lambings, but we did have one with a problem and they are so tiny you need a shepherdess with tiny hands to go in (mine are not that tiny and the ewe and I were both bruised, but the lamb was fine).
 
They shed their fleece but you can roo or shear them if you prefer.  The fleece is lovely and soft for spinning, but needs the guard hairs removed if you have shorn - if you roo the guard hairs stay on the animal and fall out later.
 
They taste delicious.  The gigot isn't as small as you might expect, easily feeding 4, and the meat is close-grained and fat free.  They need to go for slaughter at 16 or even 28 months, so males will need to be castrated.  It is often impossible to use a ring within the recommended 7 days as their bits are so tiny and just slip out of the ring, which to me is a welfare problem.  I think that the Soay shepherd is justified in leaving ring castration until the lamb is 3 weeks old.  Check with your local abattoir that they can accommodate the smaller size of the Soay.
 
Tups/rams are aggressive little b****s and will pick a fight with other tups twice their size, but that is their natural behaviour.  On St Kilda they live a bit like deer, with an annual rut and the males fighting for the right to mate; they bring that tendency with them.  We try to have a head-bashing post in every field, and definitely never leave a vehicle where a Soay (male or female) can get to it - beating up your reflection is great fun  :o
 
Overall, they are wonderful, characterful and beautiful little sheep, but live by slightly different rules to the big commercials.  If you are prepared to go with that then they are an amazing breed to keep.
 
Modified after seeing ITH's reply.  They can get fly strike like any other sheep, and are a bit prone to dung balls on the tiny tail, so need to be watched or treated with Crovect.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Fowlman

  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Wiltshire
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2013, 01:44:44 pm »
I have been considering them too widget but not found any local to me yet. I wonder what they would be like crossed with my shetlands.  :innocent:

Tucked away on the downs in wiltshire.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2013, 01:50:04 pm »
They cross well with Shetlands - ours looked pretty much like Shetlands, but with poorer fleece and a funny face  :D  just about the same size as Shetlands too.  Some people use a large commercial sire, but I can't help but think it's asking for trouble.  Best to breed pure in the first year.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2013, 01:59:25 pm »
FW - mine are treated with Crovect, feet checked and Heptovac - of course this all needs doing as with other sheep . Sorry if I made it seem they were "no care" sheep. Obviously not.


The first tup we used was a "character". Quite aggressive to humans and pushy with the ewes. It must vary quite a lot though because this years tup was the complete opposite. He was a pleasure to have here. As docile as the ewes and never once even looked as though he could be trouble.   :sheep:  No other tups here though.  ;D

kumquat

  • Joined May 2012
  • Ruthin, North Wales
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 02:24:14 pm »
We've got Soays as well.


They are a cracking little breed, very friendly. I tend to announce myself as i walk in the fields and there's usually a stampede towards me. if you creep up on them or catch them off guard they do scatter and are very fast on their little feet.


We've had no issues at all with them and fingers crossed that continues. We feed them in a corrale and that makes catching them easier to do any preventative stuff.


I'd heartily recommend them.


FW - did you eat any of the soay x shetland crosses. i'm keeping a couple of shetlands back for just that purpose...thanks
Proud member of the Soay Sheep Society :thumbsup:

Fowlman

  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Wiltshire
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2013, 04:54:20 pm »
Thanks Fleecewife for the information. Something to ponder on.
Tucked away on the downs in wiltshire.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2013, 05:21:55 pm »
[quote author=kumquat link=topic=31659.msg318260#msg318260 date=136


<<< FW - did you eat any of the soay x shetland crosses. i'm keeping a couple of shetlands back for just that purpose...thanks >>>

 
No we didn't eat them but it would be interesting to know how you find them.  I would imagine they would be tasty  :hungry:   We might repeat the cross if I can't find a black Soay tup for the two black ewes I want to breed next year.
 
Sorry in the hills  :wave:  - it is all too easy to give the impression to a new owner that they don't need the same care as more common sheep, but as you know they do - although we find their feet hardly ever need trimming, even compared with our Hebs.  I didn't mean to jump at you  :bfly:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

rikkib

  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2013, 06:39:27 pm »
Will not have a word said about them they are great! Prior to these looked after mules Scottish black face. No character at all.  Soay are great I spend hours just watching them and we must not forget they are nearly wild and must be kept like that to preserve the sheep and its characteristics. No trying to turn them into cats or dogs  the reason they are low maintenance is because of their lack of human interruption  this is how sheep were before we turned them into great big lumps of meat that need constant care.


Richard Underwood

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Carmarthenshire
    • Cathilas Farm Soay - Hogget & Prime Mutton
Re: soay sheep
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 10:18:48 pm »
We have Soay and I second Fleecewife's comments with just two comments.

Regarding flystrike I would say thay are hardy but not immune. We use a pour-on each year and so far have had only one case of flystrike in 9 years with a flock now of ~60 sheep.

For castration we use a Burdizzo clamp rather than rubber rings as this is legal up to 3 months of age. You need to get a vet or someone with experience to show you how to use it but once you know what you are doing it is straightforward. Waiting also has the advantage that you can see which ram lambs look most promising as breeding stock.

 

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