Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Easy care sheep advice needed please  (Read 10781 times)

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2015, 10:17:51 pm »
I run about 800 wool shedders at the moment----I have kept shedding sheep for over 25 years and performance recorded them for almost as long
My lambing intervention rate is about 0.2% on mature ewes and 1% on ewe lambs
All kept outdoors on forage only (no hay or silage)
I am in Wiltshire, farming nice lush valley land as well as 1000ft rough grazing on Salisbury Plain (military area)

I don't provide shelter and on the odd occasion when I get people complaining that ewes have nothing to eat (in snowy conditions) and I have put hay out they just sit on it or ignore it completely.....plenty of folk next door to me have to feed their animals through the winter and this is due to a different grass management system (I like to let animals eat grass where it stands---others like to cut , bale, store it as hay and then take it back out to the sheep )

In my conditions wool shedders do fine and in fact do better than many other local sheep ---but that is mainly down to recording & selection over many years for many traits
If you cull every animal with a daggy bum you will end up with animals that don't get daggy bums

If you want good wool shedders (or any other type of sheep) go to a farmer with a large flock who culls hard and uses performance recorded rams---

I better make it clear that my business is breeding and selling Exlana sheep so I may be biased  :) but the proof as they say is in the pudding


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2015, 10:46:47 pm »
If the OP's cattle are to survive outside all year around without dying off then its pretty safe to say hardy sheep that have been bred to would be able to thrive outside just as well  :thumbsup:

She's keeping Galloway stores outside all year round.  That's a very different proposition to keeping pregnant or lactating cattle and their calves outside.

I don't think you can extrapolate from extremely hardy store cattle to pregnant ewes.

Whereabouts are you, Louise P?  What's the climate like in your area?
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


  • Joined Apr 2014
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2015, 10:49:45 pm »
Been some interesting things written in the last few posts (and as I started writing this MR W appeared).

My first contention with what you've written Marches Farmer is the line "top quality triplets and quads". . . . . I didn't know there was such a thing. Anything above twins is a pain in the arse and usually results in some form of crap lamb. As for Daggy bums, i'm inclined to side with Keepers there. I've yet to see a saggy bum amongst any of my lambs this year. . . . FEC counted all of the groups last week. . . . . only had one with a high worm burden (only been wormed once with a white drench for nemo at about 6-8 weeks) and even in that group, there was not a single mucky bum. Genetics plays the biggest part I believe. Interestingly the groups that did not need worming have all been on leys with a large proportion of plantain. . . . . but thats another topic.

Apart from that I do agree you usually need a plan b. . . .. and whatever sheep you have they do require some shepherding and need getting in. But in general if you have the right sheep, then these are routine management tasks (and usually the more enjoyable ones) rather than re-active fire fighting!

With regard to feeding hard feed. Its this simple, I could not afford to run sheep if I needed to feed them hard feed. The maths just don't stack up. So they do not get fed. . . . . if they can't cope, they go. Luckily they seem to cope well. One thing I am working on, is better grassland management, so that they are getting fed as well as possible off grass!

Same goes for shelter. . . . I have the ability to house about 20 ewes in some kind of comfort, and probably 40 if crammed in. . . . . that's it. There is just no more room at the inn. As it is. . . . the only sheep that come inside, are bottle lambs, and the sick and dying.

There are people running shedding sheep in some very harsh and bleak places in Scotland and North Wales. . . . . in my honest opinion, they will cope as well as any other breed if bred for that environment. I.E I know a few folk who have replaced their hefted hill flocks of Welsh Mountain ewes with easy care ewes and seem to be doing just fine.

So having thought about it. . . . . . maybe there is no plan b! So if that's going to be the case, you've just got to work like hell to ensure that plan a is a bloody good one.

Luckily I know a man who breeds sheep that do what it says on the tin.  :fc:


  • Joined Feb 2015
  • Anglezarke, Lancashire
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2015, 09:00:03 am »
Louise seems to be a bit busy so I'll add a bit of info.
She lives very close to me on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in South Lancashire. But she's in a fairly sheltered spot. Her land is on a hillside but its not moorland grazing; its quite good pasture. We do get a lot of rain but her land will readily drain. We sometimes get snow but nothing like MF gets, thank god.
She does have shelter too. She has a decent sized stable block that she has used so far to lamb her Ryelands in
( we have bought her Ryeland ewes off her) so if she needed to bring the sheep in she could.
I think she's more experienced with sheep than she made it sound. I know she's wanting to use her land better and move into a more commercial operation.
Is it time to retire yet?

Louise P

  • Joined Jul 2015
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2015, 10:01:09 am »
Wow thanks everyone for your feedback. I've only just logged back on and looks like you've all been very busy in my absence :-) Like Kimbo says, I live in the North West, just off the west pennine moors. My land ishalf flat and half on a hill with plenty of natural shelter to be found if needed. We don't normally have extremes of weather but if we did I could house them next to the house if necessary.
I'm also able to feed them haylage if necessary but as I said earlier, I'm looking for an easier, low input system where I'm not stocked too heavily and for the main part, they don't need any special care. I'm not aiming to maximise profit. All I want to do is produce some nice meat to feed my family and friends and keep the land in good order.
Tim W do you know of anyone closer to mewho could sell me a few exlana's or would I have to come to Wiltshire for them?
Thanks again everyone for your input.

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2015, 10:19:49 am »
Exlanas are sold by SIG Ltd
Our breeders are all based in the south west but there may be folk nearer you who have used our rams to improve their shedding sheep. I know people in the Scottish borders and also in Yorkshire (& probably others if I thought about it )

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Easy care sheep advice needed please
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2015, 11:20:03 am »
My first contention with what you've written Marches Farmer is the line "top quality triplets and quads". . . . . I didn't know there was such a thing.

I was being ironic.  My philosophy is generally along the lines of, "If you ever find the perfect sheep, shoot it and stuff it, for you'll never see another!"


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