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Author Topic: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!  (Read 3459 times)

llamakevin

  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Bideford, North Devon
    • Ashwood Llamas
A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« on: July 31, 2011, 07:27:36 pm »
Hi all, I have been lucky to buy a 3.5 acre field and in about an acre of it has been planted with some apple trees.

These are not an ideal tree to have in the field as far as :llama: llamas are concerned, so I am going to fence it off and turn it into a small grass paddock where - maybe - I can put a few  :sheep: lambs in for fattening. The llamas will get the other 2.5 acres for grazing!

The idea here is to buy a few ram lambs from neighbours once weaned, and keep them during the summer to keep the grass down and then to put them in the freezer in the autumn. I won't be doing this until next spring, but would like to get my facts right before I start!

So, a few questions, and of course any additional advice will be most welcome!

How many lambs will this acre take - I'm thinking of getting half a dozen - is this too many or will it be able to take more?

Will they need shelter - the apple trees are not yet big enough to provide shade - and will the breed determine how hardy they will be (they won't have to suffer the winter weather)!

Are sheep like  :goat: goats and do I need to protect the young trees from them stripping bark?

Thanks

Kevin



@llamakevin based in North Devon - have you found us on facebook yet?

https://www.facebook.com/Ashwoodllamas

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2011, 08:10:43 pm »
Hi :)

Depending on breed I would err on the side of caution. How big is your freezer? You don't want to slaughter one or two then leave a lamb on it's own. Maybe go for two or four. You can always do a bigger batch the next year :)
Primitives (such as Hebrideans) will strip your trees. I don't know about "normal" sheep / crosses. Shropshire sheep are sold specifically as they *don't* eat trees (check out the breed society for further info). What breed does your neighbour have? It would probably be worthwhile this autumn/winter asking if you can help them out to get a feel for handling the animals, what signs of illness to look out for. Over summer I think your main things would be whether their feet needed trimming, and the dreaded flystrike.
I'd advise some form of shelter/shade, even if they never use it! Maybe you could just bang some trellis along and above a south-facing section of fence to get some "dappled shade"?

Good luck!  :sheep:

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2011, 08:41:46 pm »
Our Ryelands will have a good go at trees.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2011, 08:55:38 pm »
Youngish trees will be ringbarked by all sheep, and lower branches stripped of their leaves too. Depending how many trees you have in there you will need to build proper tree shelters, wide enough to make sure the sheep cannot reach over by putting their front feet onto the lower rung of the fence, and also chickenwire around so that lambs cannot get inside (I know this because mine have done some of that this year...) and then cannot get out... (especially if there is only one hole in the wiremesh, they will find it to get on, but not out!)

If the trees are high enough to not have any branches in reach you could put sturdy tree protectors (like stiff plastic) around the trunks, but they might still use them as scratching posts...

I wouldn't put any grazing animals into a youngish orchard...

llamakevin

  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Bideford, North Devon
    • Ashwood Llamas
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 08:23:32 pm »
Right - that bit's sorted then - trees need to be protected!

In terms of numbers - some of my "village" chums would like to participate and hence their freezers will take up the extras, hence wanting to know numbers!

Feet trimming and basic care isn't much different from my pygmy goats - is it? After all. I do not expect them to be there over the winter!  Good idea about talking to neighbours - will definitely do that!

Thanks for these tips all - much appreciated!
@llamakevin based in North Devon - have you found us on facebook yet?

https://www.facebook.com/Ashwoodllamas

Fronhaul

  • Joined Jun 2011
    • Fronhaul Farm
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2011, 01:26:24 pm »
Shropshires would be the breed to have - bred for the purpose.  Strangely my Jacobs didn't touch the bark of the apple trees but ate every leaf they could reach and the the Shetlands ringbarked the trees.  From my point of view I didn't care because the trees were old and not very productive or tasty but I would agree most sheep will eat the bark.  I have some Shropshires staying here at the moment being groomed up by their owner for Pembroke show and I have been very impressed by them but they aren't the smallest of sheep!

ellisr

  • Joined Sep 2009
  • Wales
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2011, 08:50:20 pm »
Our Ryelands will have a good go at trees.
I'm glad it's not just my ryelands that eat trees and saplings ;D

princesspiggy

  • Guest
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 11:11:07 pm »
we have sheep in our orchard of very young trees and had no problems. i circled each tree with chicken wire and 4 stakes and it keeps the hens off the roots and the sheep away from leaning on the trunks. it works, and the sheep dont seem to try to reach up to the branches.
we have 6 small sheep to an acre at mo but it could support 10.

llamakevin

  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Bideford, North Devon
    • Ashwood Llamas
Re: A real beginner with sheep! At least I hope to be!
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2011, 12:48:50 pm »
Thanks, I think this is what I'll do - protect the trees with netting or chicken wire & posts and this'll be the job for this winter with the aim of getting some lambs in next year!

Now, to do some research on what variety/breed!

Thanks

Kevin
@llamakevin based in North Devon - have you found us on facebook yet?

https://www.facebook.com/Ashwoodllamas

 

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