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Author Topic: Options for our hebs...  (Read 3765 times)

islaSkye

  • Joined Sep 2016
Options for our hebs...
« on: September 04, 2016, 09:31:02 am »
Hi guys, I've recently been launched into a livestock managing role for a charity which has 4 hebs currently 2years old which they want to breed from, trouble is, no one can agree what to do with the lambs!
I'm thinking the obvious meat at 16 months old but a few people don't like the idea of them going to slaughter. The only other option then would be to sell to other hobby farmers or conservation groups but must admit, I've never done this or organised a sale.
We still have the four fleeces bagged up in pillow cases on site so at the moment their wool isn't being utilised either!
I will also have to start organising the tupping asap but think there should be an end game organised before this happens as, if we don't have a plan for the lambs, is breeding even the right thing to do?

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this and any pointers on how to get the ball rolling!

ThomasR

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Peebles
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2016, 11:02:07 am »
Hi IslaSkye
The first thing you need to consider before putting a tup to your ewes is if you have the space raise the lambs, hebridean ewes tend to have singles or twins so really if you don't have the space to raise another 8 lambs then don't do it. If you do have the space then really it is a matter of weather you can agree on what to do with them and the financial side (vet bills, feed, ect.) Are your ewes registered with the society? If they are registered then you can put the to a registered tup and then your lambs would be able to be registered next year if you became a member of the HSS. With the lambs you tend to assume you're going to get a 50/50 split of tup and ewe lambs so you would need to figure out what you would want to do with the tups. What most people do for meat is they castrate their tup lambs at birth and then send them of to meat in their second year. (if you don't feel like you could eat your animals then you can sell the meat. you could also sell the males for breeding stock. With he ewe lambs the options are pretty much the same as above you can keep them for breeding, sell them for breeding or send them off for meat.
Hope this helps

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2016, 12:20:28 pm »
I think you're on the right track islaSkye - if the others are disagreed about slaughtering unwanted tup lambs, then don't breed.  It's unrealistic to think there will be enough pet homes for them, each year and every year and even if you castrate all the males and keep them yourselves, you will rapidly run out of room.  If any ewe lambs are good and you can register them, then yes you can sell them for breeding, but what would happen to any not suitable for registration?

I'm puzzled as to the reasoning for wanting to breed them.  Do the others running the charity simply think it will be cute to have little lambs bouncing about?  As I'm sure you know, those cute lambs will soon become full-sized sheep, and will no longer be any more cute than adult Hebs (which are of course very cute themselves  :D)

You have 2 months to decide whether to go ahead or not, so were it me, I would issue an ultimatum to the rest of the folk - they have to come to a unanimous decision that surplus stock be slaughtered at 16 months, no going back, or the ewes will not be bred.  You have been given your job I assume for your knowledge of husbandry, so your reasons and final decision take precedence over those who just want cute lambs but don't understand the wider picture.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2016, 12:25:52 pm by Fleecewife »
"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.

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2016, 02:05:00 pm »
You don't say where you are ? However if your names a clue you can sell your lambs at the rare breed sale in Dingwall in November best to castrate any males - not quite going to slaughter ( albeit they will probably end up like that)

islaSkye

  • Joined Sep 2016
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2016, 10:33:25 pm »
Thanks for the replies, we have 30 acres so plenty of room. We are an urban farm in the north west England so, no Big Light, unfortunately the name is but a dream!
I have lambed before on other farms and have the help of a goat breeder on site during the season so no problem there, just need to plan an outcome for any lambs before we just do it for the sake of it. Most who are against the idea of slaughter think that there us not much meat so not worth it and that there may not be a market for hogget or mutton, especially scrawny hebs! Has anyone found this to be true?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2016, 12:54:29 am »
Hebs are not scrawny unless they have been starved.  There is plenty of meat on each carcase, as long as they are not slaughtered until 16 months.  Because it is slow-grown, Heb meat is finer grained and of a far more mature flavour than baby lamb, but still sweet and tender.  It's very popular with those who care about what they eat, and with chefs for their restaurant menus. A 16 month butchered Heb can be sold for somewhere in the region of 100.  Slaughter and butchering costs vary but could add up to about 40.
No, I have never found that I can't sell our Heb meat.  It goes to family, friends and work colleagues and there is not enough for us to advertise.
It doesn't sound as if your group is very fond of Hebs - why do you keep them?
"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.

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 09:18:30 am »
As per fleece wife the meat from the hogget is top quality albeit you then have to have room to take them to the second summer we get between. 100-160 per whole butchered carcass depending on weight . It's best sold direct . There are various butchers/ restaurants who do seasonal specials might be worth speaking to them and get a fixed customer if you don't want the hassle and are willing to accept slightly less Again castrate males so you can run the flock together without hassle

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2016, 11:15:12 am »
Thanks for the replies, we have 30 acres so plenty of room. We are an urban farm in the north west England

An urban farm with 30 acres? Cannae be many of them to the pound :innocent:

islaSkye

  • Joined Sep 2016
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2016, 11:09:44 pm »
Thanks for the replies, we have 30 acres so plenty of room. We are an urban farm in the north west England

An urban farm with 30 acres? Cannae be many of them to the pound :innocent:

Hence why we're facing so many differing opinions on what to do with them I guess! We are on the edge of a large town with housing on three sides so quite a lot of people to try to please, but it may be impossible to please them all.
We settled on Hebs because they are a smaller more manageable breed, we wanted to preserve the breed, and they are great for conservation grazing which is their main purpose here, plus they are really good mothers for when the time came so breeding for meat purpose was originally on the agenda from the start. Also, we have an Iron Age round house on site and hebs are the closest relative to Iron Age breeds of that period so all the answers pointed to hebs. (Plus who wouldn't choose hebs, there gorgeous!)
It's just recently that people have started to get cold feet about rearing for meat. Maybe because it's more real now that the time has crept up on us? Hence why I'm on my fact finding mission to get all option so that we come up with a proper informed plan that all can agree to....

devonlady

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Options for our hebs...
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2016, 07:14:22 am »
I am wondering how many of these objectors to rearing for meat actually eat meat they've never met?

 

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