Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Feeding primitive sheep  (Read 5486 times)

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Feeding primitive sheep
« on: January 24, 2017, 10:22:24 am »
Hello

We will take delivery of 3 ouessant ewes next month, which we're getting very excited about now  :) We are new to sheep keeping and total novices, so I hope you don't mind if I ask some pretty basic questions on here?

My main question is about feeding and what I should get in in preparation for their arrival. My understanding is that the ouessants will do very well on poor grass/not much food and I don't want to over feed them, but also want to make sure they are getting what they need. They will be grazing our 1 acre paddock.

I am anticipating needing to give them some hay at this time of the year as there's not a great deal of grass and it's all frozen a lot of the time the past few weeks, though that might change by the time they arrive. How many bales of hay would you buy for 3 small primitive ewes to see them through til the grass starts coming?

They are mainly going to be pet sheep - something to keep the grass down and for us to have fun with as a family (we have 2 small children). We have gone for the ouessants as they are supposed to be "friendly" and easy to tame (apparently!) and the breeder says these ewes will come to a bucket. I want to keep them tame and keep them used to coming to a bucket, but don't want to over feed them. What type of food would you give them for this purpose? What is going to be tasty and make them want to come, but not too fattening! A sheep course mix? Vegetables? - which kind? How much would you feed them for this and how regularly do you think you'd need to bucket feed them to keep them tame?

Two of the ewes we are getting are in lamb. Presumably they will need some additional feed a couple of months before they are due? Do they need to have ewe nuts, or would whatever course mix etc I end up buying for the "bucket taming" exercise be adequate? How much do these small primitive ewes need when in lamb?

Sorry I know it's a lot of questions! I've done a lot of reading up, but most of the advice in books and online seems to be geared towards the larger breeds and raising for meat, so I want to make sure we are getting it right for these small sheep that are not supposed to need too much feeding.

Many thanks.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2017, 10:28:45 am »
Lots and lots of questions and there are people on here who keep primitives so I will leave it to them to give you specific answers.


But did you not discuss all these things with the breeder?


I would want to know if I was selling in lamb sheep to someone that they knew what they were doing. Did the breeder not ask you any questions?

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2017, 10:42:03 am »
Have you anyone nearby that can help/oversee? I know everyone has to start somewhere but buying in lamb sheep when you have no idea is quite a risk!  Do you know the basic signs of imminent lambing? Know roughly when and how to step in? Know about basic care of a new born lamb? Signs of illness? Can you tell by feel if a ewe is to fat/thin? Etc etc

It's great that your asking questions and keen to do it right but I would strongly advise not having the in lamb ewes this year and having a few you can learn with first.

Have you an output for the lambs? You shouldn't breed any animal unless you have a clear plan of what you will do with offspring.

Get the number of a good sheep vet and speak to the person your having them off about their feed routine.

We will all help as much as possible but really all this should have been researched before you took the plunge!

Good luck  :)

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2017, 10:46:01 am »
welcome to the world of Ouessants. Feeding advice for commercial breeds of sheep for meat production is not helpful for Ouessants. They  cope well on rough grass supplemented with good hay; during the winter and a salt lick ( not one that is a feed in itself as they really don't need the extra).
Ewes rarely lamb twins ( my last pair were in  2007 )  so do not overfeed in the run up to lambing as you will contribute to lambing difficulties. Typically the breed lambs easily and unassisted ( you won't get much if any room to manoeuver a lamb so this is important to take into consideration. )
do you know when the ram was with the ewes? Or over what period you should expect lambs?
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

Dans

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Spalding
    • Six Oaks
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2017, 10:50:00 am »
I am very much a novice (less than a year keeping sheep) but I have 6 natuve breed sheep on just over an acre so our set up might be helpful. We bought 6 ewes born the previous year so we could get some experience with them before we hired a tup to get them in lamb.

We have used coarse mix, ewe nuts and digestive biscuits to tame them up (ours weren't bucket trained). 1 or 2 scoop fulls or half a biscuit each every couple of weeks (generally when we had guests).

This winter we bought 2 small bales per sheep but as they are on limited grazing they ate right through it so we've bought another 2 bales per sheep and I think that should see us through.

We have also split our field into 3 sections so that we can rotate around which may be a good idea for you too.

It's my first lambing so I'll be reading for thexample feeding ideas others have.

Dans
9 sheep, 24 chickens, 3 cats, a toddler and a baby on the way

www.sixoaks.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pg/sixoakssmallholding

www.goodlife.sixoaks.co.uk

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2017, 10:53:21 am »
Native UK breeds are not Ouessants. Ouessants  have evolved to survive on very marginal grazing ( this does not mean feeding them little but feeding them less than optimum quality feed) ie commercial supplements  are treats to bring them into to you and as such a small handful per sheep is adequate.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 10:54:55 am by kanisha »
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2017, 11:40:15 am »
Sorry it is difficult to give a full picture of our situation in one post.

I know I am a novice, but have some support. I have a friend with a "hobby flock" of 150 Polled Dorsets down the road, who has been invaluable in giving me information about lambing and what to look for and I am going to join them for lambing this year to see lambing and its problems in action. They are also happy to be on hand should we have any problems and they are literally less than 5 minutes away. I have done quite a lot of research on breeds and one of the reasons I went a for the Ouessants was their reputation for unassisted lambing and low complication rates. The two in-lamb ewes we are getting have limbed twice before - single lambs, unassisted, outdoors.  But I realise that with animals nothing is guaranteed and will register with a vet in case we need veterinary assistance - just need to get some recommendations for a good sheep vet in our area. As beginners, we realise that we will have to rely on "buying in" expertise (i.e.  having a lower threshold for calling the vet than an experienced sheep keeper) and that is something we have budgeted for before we got the sheep.

The breeder will buy back any ram lambs from us and if we get ewes we plan to keep them until we have reached a level that is keeping on top of our spring grass.

My friend with the Dorset sheep obviously doesn't have experience of ouessants so I was looking for feeding advice from people who do know this breed as, as I said, all the stuff I have read appears to apply to commercial breeds and not the very different needs of these small primitive sheep. I have had good advice from the breeder re their feeding, but just wanted to check this against other knowledge on this forum as feel as a beginner it is good to tap into as many experienced people as I can! But do appreciated and will follow the advice of the breeder, which very much tallies with Kanisha's advice here too.

Kanisha - thank you so much - you sound like you have a lot of experience with this breed. So is what you're saying that I shouldn't feed any supplementary feed at all in a bucket? If that is the case, what do I give them in a bucket to keep them tame? And how oftenwould you give them something in a bucket if it is purely to keep them tame? I realise it's important not to over feed the in-lamb ewes - does this mean not feeding them any concentrate feed or just giving them very small amounts? If "small amounts" how much are we talking about?

The breeder has told me pretty much what you have said Kanisha in terms of "we don't really give them anything extra", but did say they give them some sugars beet in a bucket to keep them tame. So I was just wondering what food to get in before they come (have heard not good things about sugar beet so was thinking a course mix) and whether the in-lamb ewes need anything over and above this. I will of course, check this with the breeder, who of course is a brilliant source of advice and information, but am just doing some further research myself too.

Sbom

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 11:50:27 am »
As you say, it's difficult to get a full picture from one post.

Sounds like you've got most things covered though and having someone experienced on hand is brilliant.

Enjoy your first sheep  :) although be warned....they are extremely addictive!!



kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2017, 11:53:43 am »
re feeding to keep them tame.

A bucket with a few rattley treats in will work wonders for moving sheep from one area to another and penning if necessary; I live in france and can't get coarse mix but use a  50/50 mix of ewe nuts and alfalfa ( luzerne) pellets they don't need 100% ewe nuts and it is far too rich for them;
Currently the ground is fozen solid so they are getting fed but as a general rule a small amount to ensure they know to follow the bucket with it as a reward at the end is more than enough; For keeping them hand tame i feed dried apricots..... yes I know  ::) but it brings them in to my hand and I can give one or a half to each sheep; this to me is taming them.

The sheep will get used to you and search your pockets for treats they don't need anything more. Depending on when they are due to lamb and according to the weather ie if the grass is late to come in ( and I usually start lambing from the beg of april)I am obviosuly south of UK so a slightly more temperate climate)  then i may consider a small amount of supplementation but rarely otherwise.
Older ewes or ewes whose teeth are loose or gappy may need some extra and generally I can draw them aside and feed  the other side of a fence before letting them back with everyone.  Ouessants do have in general poor longevity due to their teeth so its important to check their dentition anytime you are doing anything with them to keep an eye on things;
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 12:26:24 pm »
Good to read your second post. This is a very useful forum and I am sure you will find some really good advice.


Good luck and don't forget to let us know how you get on  :) :)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2017, 12:28:28 pm »
Just to add to kanishas comments, here in the UK the 'keeping them tame' feed we use is Carr's Champion Tup.  It has a lower protein content than ewe pencils, and is small and varied for them as treats.  The main advantage though is that it is designed for tups, so does not lead to urinary tract stones.  If any of your lambs are male, they mustn't eat ewe feed, and as you will not be using much, you can get the ewes used to the feed before they lamb and not need to buy another sack after lambing.  You really don't need much, just enough for the bucket to make a nice rattle - we would use just a sprinkle for lots more than 3 (we keep Hebrideans which are larger than Ouessants but have similar needs).
@kanisha do Ouessants enjoy willow leaves and bark?  We find that is an excellent vitamin and forage supplement, especially over the winter.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

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

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2017, 12:40:03 pm »
Many many thanks - such helpful advice kanisha and thank you fleecewife for the tip re food.

For keeping them tame, how frequently would you "feed" them - every day? I had envisaged "treating" them whenever I am out working in the paddock, which is normally 3-4 times per week, but could take them a bucket every morning if this is what is needed. I'm used to horses, who tend to have a more structured feeding routine, but I'm guessing primitive sheep don't need quite so much of a routine? The paddock is right by our house so they will obviously be checked everyday in terms of are they ok, any problems etc.

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2017, 01:21:57 pm »
).
@kanisha do Ouessants enjoy willow leaves and bark?  We find that is an excellent vitamin and forage supplement, especially over the winter.

Yep Just about anything you can get from the hedgerow. I plant browse along field boundries for them to help themselves to. They work their way through kilos of windfal apples every winter not to mention plums cherries pears and blackberries ( careful as they get stuck in brambles very easily)  Will cut goat willow and also ivy in the winter ( I avoid feeding ivy with berries on). 
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2017, 01:24:56 pm »
If you feed them everytime wannabe then you will have noisy sheep ..... they will stand and bleat at you until you feed them or drive yourself nuts wondering if they are really hungry;  A more relaxed approach is better.

 I also don't feed my ewes at all once they have lambed, they go onto growing pasture with only one lamb they don't need any supplement.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: Feeding primitive sheep
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2017, 01:29:04 pm »
Many many thanks - such helpful advice kanisha and thank you fleecewife for the tip re food.

For keeping them tame, how frequently would you "feed" them - every day? I had envisaged "treating" them whenever I am out working in the paddock, which is normally 3-4 times per week, but could take them a bucket every morning if this is what is needed. I'm used to horses, who tend to have a more structured feeding routine, but I'm guessing primitive sheep don't need quite so much of a routine? The paddock is right by our house so they will obviously be checked everyday in terms of are they ok, any problems etc.

Tip from my psychology days - a behaviour is kept much stronger if the reward is random. Think of gambling - you might just win THIS time. So I would feed treats very intermittently and not too often, once they have the idea that you *might* have food.

 

Ashover Show, Derbyshire... new classes for Primitive Sheep

Started by nimbusllama (11.04)

Replies: 7
Views: 2671
Last post August 20, 2015, 08:04:51 am
by nimbusllama
Bakewell Show, Derbyshire. New Primitive sheep classes 4th August.

Started by nimbusllama (10.92)

Replies: 0
Views: 1535
Last post June 20, 2016, 09:57:27 am
by nimbusllama

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2022. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS