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Author Topic: Ouessant sheep  (Read 12254 times)

Pomme homme

  • Joined Feb 2013
Ouessant sheep
« on: August 16, 2016, 10:43:45 am »
I'm surprised that this breed hasn't yet - as far as I can see - warranted a mention on the primitive sheep forum. It originates from the island of the same name to the north-west of the Brittany penisular. It is an island almost devoid of trees and the animals' only shelter from the Atlantic winds are the rocky outcrops. These are not high and, in consequence, the same can be said of the sheep. In Western France they are widely kept as organic lawnmowers and are very cheaply bought (often even given away). The meat is good but because of the size of the animals, the carcass yield is not significant. Thus the cost of taking them to the abattoir means that those that are killed for meat, for home consumption, generally are home killed and butchered. The tups really do have attitude. Try telling them that they are small and they'll refute the suggestion as ovine 'project fear'! We kept some a while back. After we changed to Vendéens, we kept the tup, Sooty, because of our admiration for his attitude. Even Godzilla the Goat, the day he broke out of his field and into that of the sheep, ran up the white flag after a 'head to head' with Sooty. Does anyone keep Ouessant sheep in the UK?

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2016, 11:24:17 am »
We've got some coming to the Scottish Smallholder Festival this year  :thumbsup:

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2016, 11:50:09 am »
Website for the breed society UK http://www.ouessantsheep.net/

I would add that many in France are freely available because they don't meet the standard, are not breed registered and very often are cross bred, with soay and  cameroun   being the most commonly found crosses.

Historically Ouessant sheep were developed from the marginalised primitive sheep who were adapted to thriving on poor grazing and  are considered native to north western France and in particular Brittany. The coastal plains and salt marshes offered a refuge to the breed when more commercial cross breds were introduced to meet a more commercialised market with selectively bred breeds of sheep. The Ouessant is dual purpose meat and wool and despite its small size ( less than 49cm for rams at the shoulder and less than 46cm for ewes)  mouton pré salé ( salt marsh fed meat) was considered extremely good eating and sold for a premium. In its hey day it was very much kept as a commercial breed of sheep. Its traditional colour ( black) relates to a period prior to the industrialisation of textile production when black wool was highly sought after.

Plenty been mentioned on the main forum about this breed.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

laurelrus

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Quainton,Buckinghamshire
  • Hobby farmer
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2016, 12:04:31 pm »
We have three pet Ouessants (Ted, Jack and Dougal) who are absolutely lovely.
They are friendly and pettable and get on well with people as well as our dogs and donkeys.
Really lovely sheep!
2 pygmy goats, 3 Ouessant sheep, 19 chickens, 2 donkeys, 2 Shetland ponies and 2 dogs

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2016, 03:25:57 pm »
Our local working sheepdog breeder and trainer got some Ouessants for training young dogs.  Then sold them ( or may have had to give them away, I'm not sure ;) ) because they didn't flock together!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 03:53:38 pm »
yea there are some breeders near me who keep them, I think? I see them on preloved quite often, but yes it is a shame they're not mentioned.
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2016, 04:04:26 pm »
Our local working sheepdog breeder and trainer got some Ouessants for training young dogs.  Then sold them ( or may have had to give them away, I'm not sure ;) ) because they didn't flock together!

duh! primitive sheep have a poor flocking instinct. I have seen all male groups used for demonstrations and they can be worked with dogs but  not for the gung ho!
I've posted this before

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLocjkHotw4
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

Pomme homme

  • Joined Feb 2013
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2016, 04:12:34 pm »
They also seem to be long lived. When ultimately we had no space for Sooty to run with our Vendéen ram lambs, we gave him away to friends who had a small flock of Ouessants to graze their lawns. They told us that he'd died earlier this year. We reckon that he was probably fourteen or fifteen years old. He was tupping their ewes until last year.

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 04:26:49 pm by waterbuffalofarmer »
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2016, 06:52:45 pm »
Our local working sheepdog breeder and trainer got some Ouessants for training young dogs.  Then sold them ( or may have had to give them away, I'm not sure ;) ) because they didn't flock together!

duh! primitive sheep have a poor flocking instinct. I have seen all male groups used for demonstrations and they can be worked with dogs but  not for the gung ho!
I've posted this before

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLocjkHotw4


Lol, two people and three dogs to pen seven sheep!  Lol

My dogs work my primitives and primitive crosses, and yes, less is more. Gung Ho doesnae work.  But I think Ouessants - or certainly, those specific Ouessants anyway - are in a different league!  The dogs had no problems with the Hebrideans, so they were just going to stick with Hebs.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2016, 07:01:55 pm »
I don't use a dog they follow a bucket... That said I have one ram who is fast smart and sees traps everywhere. This year for the first time I let my shearer catch up the rams.  The dog was a youngster,  still, said ram was duly caught up with the rest without too much trouble.

I like to move my sheep calmly they learn to work with me not against me, maybe the Ouessants didn't appreciate getting into a flap too often.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

Pomme homme

  • Joined Feb 2013
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2016, 09:10:55 pm »
I suppose that, historically, the Ouessants, on their home island, didn't really have much choice as to where to go. When the choice is the pen or 'OK, folks, into the sea and next stop America', it's rather a no brainer!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2016, 09:23:24 pm »

I like to move my sheep calmly they learn to work with me not against me, maybe the Ouessants didn't appreciate getting into a flap too often.

I do understand what you're saying, but the working collie breeder and trainer in question has won the international on several occasions.  I don't think he would have dogs putting sheep in a flap. ;)

They had these sheep purely for working the dogs, so being able to move the sheep with a bucket of cake wasn't of interest.  The thinking was that A) 'difficult' sheep at home would mean the dogs should find competition sheep a doddle, and B) if they did displays, it would be more interesting for the public to see unusual and pretty sheep.  I guess they wanted low maintenance sheep, too.  Anyway, Ouessants didn't fit the bill, but Hebs worked fine.

I move my own little sheep with the quad and a sack of cake most of the time, too.  But I find it is necessary to be able to herd them with dogs, too, especially as ours have to be moved on foot on the road sometimes.  So my dogs are trained to work this type of  sheep too.  They need to stay well back, move quietly and calmly, much more so than with regular commercial sheep. 



Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

kanisha

  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2016, 08:38:24 am »
There is a basic difference between moving sheep under positive direction and under coercion. Irrespective of how  well the dogs were working the sheep the drive to move them is very different from the lure of food.

I use both with my sheep and use different calls to let them know as well as my movements which I am asking them to do.  That said fear in an animal once it gets to a certain level is panic. It is the state of the sheep I am judging not the pressure of the dog. 
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Ouessant sheep
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2016, 09:18:58 am »
My opening premise was that the people I know who've had Ouessants found that they didn't flock under pressure.  Hopefully that might be helpful information to anyone looking for more information about these small sheep.  As will your contirbution that, in your experience, they are easily managed with a bucket of cake.

Interesting conversations about the use of working collies generally we maybe should take to a separate thread ;)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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