Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Hands-free outdoors lambing / mothering, hardy, fast maturing off grass breeds?  (Read 2856 times)


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community

If they need flystrike prevention, that would be an issue.  We can't use Clik or anything like it.  (We try to follow organic rules as far as possible, although we aren't certified.)  We use Molecto (local agri merchant version of Crovect) on any at risk lambs only if we feel it's a particularly high risk time, but for the most part between breeding, management, and vigilance, we do not use chemicals for flies at all. 

The ones which have predominantly Shetland and Manx blood rarely have any problems. 

The sheep with some Wensleydale in 'em, and a couple of lines which have gorgeous fleece and some Blue-faced Leicester in the mix do have the occasional incident, but only usually if we are tardy with dagging.   

Zwartbles and descendents are either 100% immune or get struck very badly very quickly; we cull lines which get struck for no reason and are about to lose the last of our Zwartbles blood, sadly.  (Not for that reason, this one is going for terrible mothering, despite her own mum having been an excellent sheep in every respect.) 

We cull anyone who has flystrike for no good reason, and if we get two such incidents in a line will be unlikely to keep any others from that line for breeding either.  The fleece from the ones with Wensleydale in the mix is so sumptuous that we may bend that rule a leeetle bit for them... ;) :spin: :knit: :hugsheep:

We've only had one of the Shetland type badly struck for no apparent reason, she was 1/8 BFL.  She survived with good nursing, and went off fat, and none of her brothers or sisters has had a problem since (so far... :fc:) so we keep breeding from the mother and have kept a later sister for breeding. 

« Last Edit: October 12, 2022, 04:33:11 pm by SallyintNorth »
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 Mar 2012
  • Carmarthenshire/Pembrokeshire Borders
Fair enough! I think if you keep them on a fell then you would need to overwinter, but on even half decent grass they can put the weight on pretty well. Ours lamb late, usually mid April since the ram isn't even remotely interested until the end of October (if you were up in Cumbria you would know this all too well!). Having said that mine are currently mid 20's to over 30kg (apart from the usual set of mini herdwicks that seem to prefer to stay small since that means they can squeeze through the smallest gap!). Given that a lot of my neighbours have been having difficulty getting lambs to fatten this year I can luve with that performance.

The fleece is a problem, but I rather feel that a hardy hill sheep with a beautiful soft fleece is probably a bit of an oxymoron! A lot of the attention these days is on easycare sheep emanating from the Wiltshire Horns but that is not going to get you any fleece at all, apart from the bits they rub off on the fence!

Regarding the flystrike issue, perhaps I overstated the issue.  We have Coloured Ryelands (where flystrike is a problem), Wiltshire Horns (no problem apart from the older rams where the horns get close to their cheeks) and the Herdwicks. I hate picking maggots out of sheep, so we take the rather blunt prevention route on them all. If you keep a close eye on them (and a bit of Molecto at danger times) I would say you would be OK with the Herdwicks. This year we only had a few cases and the Clik prevented the larvae from developing anyway so they tended to be in the poo rather than the flesh. The nature of the fleece seems to prevent the flies getting down to the skin (compared to the Coloureds where they burrow under the fleece and do a whole load of damage before you ever get to see anything).

I guess the real answer is there is no perfect sheep breed, you just get the best compromise you can and learn to live with the downsides!

Good luck on the hunt anyway!


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