The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: shrekfeet on January 06, 2009, 08:26:56 pm

Title: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: shrekfeet on January 06, 2009, 08:26:56 pm
Okay, here's the challenge and I'd like your comments or guidance please. I have two of three acres of grazing and would like to raise some lamb for meat. I'm thinking that a small number of breeding ewes would provide me with enough lambs to finish on grass late spring/early summer whilst grass is growing fast. I could then keep the ewes through the summer and winter and breed from them the following year. But where do I start? Should I buy some ewes in the spring with lambs in tow or is there another way to do it. Should I buy younger sheep and then start breeding them next winter? But then I'd be without any lamb for the freezer! Should I try to pick up some orphaned lambs to raise for meat?
So I'm looking for your ideas. WHat would you do with a clean sheet? How would you get started? What did you do? What would you do differently?
Hope you can help me.
 :sheep:
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: danndans on January 06, 2009, 08:54:56 pm
Have you lambed before? or have you got someone you can ask for help from if need be?

I'd be tempted to go for ewes in lamb,  :)

rearing an orphan lamb is time consuming and expensive :o
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: garden cottage on January 07, 2009, 06:24:00 am
get some dexter cattle there less work!
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: Rosemary on January 07, 2009, 12:24:04 pm
Difficult to shear though!
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: doganjo on January 07, 2009, 05:07:25 pm
Now there speaks a lady who thinks 'out of the box'
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: woollyval on January 07, 2009, 07:51:49 pm
get some dexter cattle there less work!

Having had some and worked with cattle for many years..........I disagree.....any breed but not a dexter :o :o :o

I would go for buying some nice been there, done it , got the tee shirt types with lambs at foot in the spring, learn about sheep from them less the added strain of a possible difficult lambing, then keep the ewes and borrow a ram for the following lambing, by which time you will have got your head around managing sheep and hopefully attended a lambing course!

Then after a full year of hands on you can decide whether to keep the ewes or add to them or change them for a different breed!

Good luck
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: shrekfeet on January 08, 2009, 09:36:08 am
Hey Wooly, thanks for the constructive comment. That's a good idea. I have a shortlist of breeds at the moment (not short enough yet!) any recomendations? Also, where would you buy the ewes with lambs? From the breeder direct or from market? Are they easy to come by?
One other thing, I have a small orchard and was planning to graze that too. Will the sheep eat the bark?
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: danndans on January 08, 2009, 05:59:51 pm
Oi WS!!! >:(  whats wrong with dexters hey??...........................................i've got the holey jeans to prove theres nothing wrong with them  :P well if they learnt to kick a bit softer...........and lift you a bit higher over the fences..................and  not have tantrums when they feel like it  ;D then they'd be a lovely breed  ;D ;D

but the meat is realy good and defo worth the hassle  ;D
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: derbyshirenovices on January 08, 2009, 07:52:36 pm
Hello Shrekfeet
Your situation seems very similar to ours except maybe you're in a greater hurry to produce some lamb for the freezer. We have all of six weeks experience with our flock of two - Ryeland ewe lambs from Spring 2008, but the thoughts of thewoolyshepherd fit with our thinking and experience so far. We also have a couple of acres and did think originally that four sheep would be needed to do the lawnmowing (our first priority). We had an opportunity to buy two from a small local breeder and, personally speaking, I'm pleased that we did just that, i.e. start small and take our time to get into it. So far so good, the Ryelands seem a smashing breed, friendly, tough enough, not escape-minded. You could probably find someone nearby who breeds them via http://www.ryelandfbs.com/.

As plans stand at the moment, we'll look to tupping come the autumn and maybe then we'll start thinking of lamb to eat, so long as we don't get too attached to them.

Re the orchard: we also have an orchard and will look to let them in there in due course, although the other day they were nibbling away at some tree prunings and so I'm a bit more wary now.
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: kaz on January 08, 2009, 08:01:43 pm
I agree Ryelands are the best :) I have approx 50 of them. Great little breed. Have been outside all the time in this bad weather (we are cruel) but as long as they have plenty of hay and feed they are pretty hardy. You'll not regret having them. Started off with 3 ewe lambs and went from there. :sheep: :sheep:
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: garden cottage on January 08, 2009, 09:41:21 pm
and they taste fantastic!     still got lots in the freezer
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: Rosemary on January 09, 2009, 07:53:16 am
We've got Ryelands and really like them. We bought them 'cos they look like teddybears. We've only got three, who will lamb (hopefully) this Spring. If all goes well, the intention is to retain the ewe lambs and eat the boys.

They have beautiful fleece. The only drawback with a small number is getting someone to shear them - quite costly - and all spot-on etc comes on large packages but you can always find other small scale owners and team up - that's what we're doing this year.

Best thing about Ryelands - they don't wander.
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: woollyval on January 09, 2009, 12:07:38 pm
Its ok Danndans.....I love Dexters really...... ::)

Re apple trees.......some sheep will totally ignore them......some will behave like unattended children in a chocolate shop!!!!! Personally I would construct hefty tree guards, triangular with 3 posts and stock wire well out of reach of the sheep...........and if they really want to destroy your tree its surprising how far a small shep can reach :o

I would go for getting some ewes with lambs .........if thats your initial choice, from a reliable source such as a good local farmer with a reputation he wishes to keep intact!!!.............or take a very experienced person to market with you...........I have got some good bargains in market.........urrr and also some 6ft fence jumpers :o you take a chance there!

As for pedigree breeds........
Easy lambing breeds are to be recommended ..............but do not forget your second valuable crop....the wool!! eg Ryelands, Dorset Downs, Gotlands, Shetlands (but make sure they are not wild!!!) Ouessants (lovely wool, good carcase for a small family wanting just to eat their own) etc
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: Rosemary on January 09, 2009, 07:33:46 pm
One of our three - Jinx - eats bark like a mad thing if she gets the chance. The other two don't seem to bother about it.
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: shrekfeet on January 12, 2009, 08:26:20 am
Thanks again Wooley your comments are much appreciated.

Would people recommend keeping the flock pure bred or crossing the ewes with another breed? Also, if I was buying Ryland ewes with lambs at foot then what kind of price range should I be looking at? I guess it would depend on the age of the ewes.  ???

I suppose once I have ewes with lambs I can keep the ewe lambs and eat the tups.

I'm guessing that many flocks will be starting to lamb now and therefore I should be thinking about making my purchase pretty soon. How wiould I go about finding local breeders?

One of my neighbours keeps Black Welsh Mountain and I was wondering whether it might be more simple to adopt the same breed. I hear they are pretty easy to keep.

Thanks for all your help
 :sheep:
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: kaz on January 13, 2009, 02:07:13 pm
If you go for Ryelands look on the Ryeland Flock Book Society web page. It will give you a list of breeders who advertise and you can pick someone near to you. If no one near to you contact the secretary she should be able to marry you up with somone local. Details will be on the society's web page, or post me a message and I will try to help you as have the Ryeland Flock Book with all breeders in or alternately will have some stock to sell myself a bit later on.
Kaz
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: kaney on February 10, 2009, 09:17:57 pm
Welsh blacks are very hardy and self sufficient.  I bought some Texel cross stores this year when I had run out of my own lambs and they were spot on, carcases were 22kg which surprised me
but downsize is that ewes have a lot of singles compared with my Lleyns which need careful feeding in the autumn to avoid too many multiple births.
Nothing wrong with crosses but with a small number I'd be tempted to breed pure.
I started with 10 4 and 5 year old Lleyns, sent 3 to market in January, one ten and two nine year olds and got 54.50 each which wasn't bad having had 4 crops of lambs out of them.
Good luck
Title: Re: Come on, get me started with some sheep - please
Post by: kaz on February 11, 2009, 12:11:50 pm
Where abouts are you? I've got Ryelands here which you are welcome to come and have a look at, but could also put you in touch with Ryeland breeders nearer to you if I'm too far.
Ryelands are easy lambers which is helpful if you are first time farmers. Mine come to a bucket or even not if they think you just might have something, which is a great help when you want to gather them up for routine MOT work. :)