Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Any information or experience re sheep keeping small number of sheep please  (Read 7848 times)


  • Joined Oct 2013
I have three shetland ewes in my field and need lots of advices please as I am a total novice.

Has anyone got a ram with just three ewes?
Does the ram become bored and cause trouble if there are not enough ewes?
We love looking after the sheep so wouldn't mind getting some more but the trouble is we don't consume that many lambs so I need to sell them somehow.

Do you know how to go about selling the meat?

Thank you


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
    • Facebook
Hi there.

There is no reason why you can't have a ram with just three ewes. 

Some do get bored once they are done with a smaller number, some don't, so options could be a) get something you really like and hope it is not the former variety b) use a lamb, and replace him each year c) get something with known history d) share with someone else e) get some more ewes  ;D

There are different options for selling your meat, from marketing it yourself (most satisfying but also challenging) to sending to a mart to sending direct to slaughter.

Good luck and have fun with your sheep.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Devon
...or sell store lambs...
Carefully shearing small flocks throughout the South-West.


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Wiltshire
When i started out with my shetlands i had three ewes and a ram and they were just fine. He is now a mature well tempered gentleman.
Tucked away on the downs in wiltshire.


  • Joined Sep 2012
  • NW Highlands
    • Facebook
we also have a small flock, even smaller after today at the mart! we have 5 breeding ewes and will buy in a tup for them in 2 weeks, we don't share with the local shepherds as they use cheviots and ours are Boreray crosses so bringing in a boreray/soay cross tup so expecting some interesting lambs next spring  :fc: :fc:
we'll keep him for 2 years then move him on and bring in another, well thats the plan but you know what they say about best laid plans ........
keeper of goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys, dogs, cats, goldfish and children, just don't ask me which is the most work!


  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Kent
Hi Ya

Small flock no problem. We started out with 3 Ryeland ewes and a young tup, He didn't get bored and is still a pleasure to own. Lots of ways to market spare lambs - take directly to market, directly to abbatoir and sell half lambs to friends and family, directly to someone else to finish (store lambs) - or as lawnmowers.

Plenty of people will buy 2 or 3 young wethers for pasture improvement and pasture cleaning to follow on from horse grazing. (they clean up horse worms without being affected by the same ones themselves)

Keeper of Ryelands (learner) , Geese, Bantams, Chickens, Ducks , Horses & Cattle.  Animal Feed Merchant by day & BSc Agriculture graduate of yore :)


  • Joined Oct 2013
Thank you so very much for all the reply!
I didn't realise there were any response.
I thought there will be an email if anybody responded!

Such a positive stories too. I am very grateful!

I am sorry but could you tell me what a mart is?

I have phoned the abattoir which the local farmers use and they will butcher the meat but not interested in buying meat.
They also sounded reluctant to gain new customer as they have plenty of regulars...

I am feeling much for positive about gaining a ram for my girls.
I am sure I will be posting with more questions as I progress.
Thank you again  :wave:


  • Joined Jul 2008
Hi Emi :wave:

If you can loan a ram for your ewes this is probably an easier way to learn than buying your own for the first year.  Also if you choose to keep your first ewe lambs, you will not want to then run them with their sire.  When you have more experience, you will know what you want from your sheep and can buy accordingly. 
To give you an idea how much freezer space you need, I find that the Shetland joints take about 1 1/2 freezer drawers for 1/2 lamb.  You get back about 1/2 the weight of the live animal.  You can collect the bagged joints from the butcher at the abbatoir and take them in cool boxes directly to friends, neighbours etc.

They are lovely sheep ;D :sheep: , good luck with them.


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
I think you need to do a lot of learning fast before you think about breeding - even Shetlands that have agreat reputation for easy lambing and for being good mothers.

Start by reading the articles on the website and read through some of the previous posts on the forum.

If you can get yourself on a sheep keeping course I suggest you do that too or see if your vet can show you how to inject, drench and foot trim. He'll help you draw up a simple health plan too so that you know when / if to carry out routine health tasks - especially important if you are going to breed.

You don't have to breed - depends why you are keeping sheep. The ewes won't pine if they don't have lambs and if you want more to keep grass down, you can get more ewes or some wethers (castrated males).

You don't say how you acquired the animals or how long you have had them, but you've got them and you have made a start on here but you clearly have a bit of catching up to do.

That's not meant to be negative, just realistic and I wish you well with your sheep.


  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
It would be worth getting to know your farming neighbours too, the sooner the better. They will be able to give you experienced advice about any sheep problems you encounter and tell you about the local marts etc. Another thing which will be enormously helpful to you would be if you ask to help them at lambing time, be an extra pair of hands and be learning at the same time.

Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners


  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
It would be worth getting to know your farming neighbours too, the sooner the better. They will be able to give you experienced advice about any sheep problems you encounter and tell you about the local marts etc. Another thing which will be enormously helpful to you would be if you ask to help them at lambing time, be an extra pair of hands and be learning at the same time.
really good idea. when we started with 3 ewe lambs 4 1/2 years ago our neighbour farmer was fantastic to us. helped us out with a ram for the first year and would point us in the right direction with drenching, heptavac, fly-strike treatment, foot care etc. etc. getting meds for just 3 sheep is difficult/impossible as most things come in much bigger bottles. getting in with someone else is a vital source of info as well as a chance to share meds and reduce waste and cost. secondly, read (and read and read) and of course, prob best source of advice and support TAS


  • Joined Oct 2013
Thank you for your messages.

Yes I have been looking into courses but seems none around my area (Hertfordshire) and yes I have been reading & researching as much as I can but experience would be the best way to learn and I have a kind neighbor who has a small flock who has been very helpful.

I have also registered with a vet who was really helpful and understanding of my situation.
I will arrange a visit when its time for vaccination so I can learn from the vet.

Some of you must be wondering  'she doesn't know what a mart is!?'

I should have mentioned that I moved to this country few years ago and english isn't my native language!
My apologies ( I now know it is another type of word for market!) and hope you will be forgiving when my wording is a little off!

Also I used my courage to ask the local butcher if he would buy the meat from me and he said yes!
So now I can think about breeding for meat (cross with my kind neighbor's Hebridean!)

It has been my long dream to have a small flock of sheep and I very much appreciate all your responses as everyones experience and thought are different and it helps me to sort my thinking out too!

Thank you! :wave:

« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 07:26:48 pm by Emi »


  • Joined Jul 2008
Have you tried Oaklands College at St Albans (01727 737100)?  They have a flock of about 200 ewes and run many different courses.

I am sure your Shetlands will make a delightful cross with the Hebridean, and to get a butcher to take the meat is fantastic.  He may want you to keep them until about 16 months old to get a larger carcase - but one step at a time!   :thumbsup:


  • Joined Oct 2013
Thank you! I will try calling them because I was very lost looking into their web site...
Also I will keep in mind about the size of the carcass too. Thank you :excited:


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Good luck with your sheep enterprise and I hope you find it very rewarding. The sheep world has a language all of its own too, whihc makes it fun for all  ;D


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