Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Sheep questions  (Read 3850 times)

vfr400boy

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • one life live it
Sheep questions
« on: June 15, 2020, 08:56:12 pm »
So we are new to sheep and at the moment have the 4 suffoke cross mules lambs witch are growing well on our 1,5 acre feild
The grass is beating them at the moment so am out with the strimmer tidying every other day ,
Both me and my daughter love looking after them etc my question is after the lambs go to slaughter ( am guessing end of August) would it be ok to get a trio of sheep on there tho breed off ? Would the 1.5 acre be enough to support 3 adult sheep plus there lambs In spring ? When is the right time to buy ewes in ? My daughter likes the zwartbles sheep are they a good sheep for beginniners?
Sorry for all the silly questions

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2020, 09:08:19 pm »
I think that zwartbles are ideal for beginners as they tend to be friendly and docile.  Your land would need splitting so that they can rotate onto fresh grass and be prepared to buy hay for feeding in winter. 

vfr400boy

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • one life live it
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2020, 09:15:50 pm »
I have split it in to 2 as it is now and letting lambs have a week in each ,
Would it be best to own a tup or just hire one ?
We have only had the lambs 2 weeks and now were taking about breeding ha things move fast

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2020, 09:20:54 pm »
You could always wait a little while longer and buy a few in lamb ewes in the autumn/early winter. That would sort out having to own or hire a tup in. Tups can be tricky and need to be kept out of sight from the ewes for most of the year, and need a friend. Hiring a ram in can be a bit of a biosecurity risk. So maybe finding a few in lamb ewes would get you going with sheep without needing a ram from the beginning.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2020, 09:53:49 pm »
So maybe finding a few in lamb ewes would get you going with sheep without needing a ram from the beginning.


Yes, that's what I would do. Ideally also ewes that have lambed before, so are more likely to lamb easily and know what they're doing without help!



"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2020, 10:20:39 am »
Do you have somewhere you could bring your ewes inside to lamb?  Whilst lots of sheep are actually better off lambing outside, I have found that (as a generalisation; there are exceptions) Zwartbles are not the best at mothering up and would recommend having them inside for lambing, at least until you know them and know how they do.
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

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2020, 08:48:51 pm »
Zwartbles are not the best at mothering up

I had major issues with my Zwartbles the first two years I had them with poor mothering. Until an experienced breeder told me midway through lambing to drench them all with a multivitamin drench. All the ones that lambed after that point mothered up beautifully. Now I make a point of drenching all my ewes the week before they're due to lamb and *touch wood* haven't had any trouble since, even with first timers :thumbsup:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2020, 09:31:28 pm »
Well, that's interesting!  We only have 1 Zwart left of the original 8, and she's the remainer because she was the only one of 3 gimmers who mothered up properly on her own ;p (and also had decent feet, no issues with her bag and never seems to be bothered by flies.)   Almost everything else has some Shetland and/or Manx in it, so we don't tend to get mothering up issues now. 
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

vfr400boy

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • one life live it
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2020, 10:05:22 pm »
No I only have a small 8x8 3 sided shed for shade , so maybe breeding is a bad idea then , the paddock is in quite a posh village and am almost a 100% sure some one would complain if I put a bigger shed up
The lambs we have on now seem to be growing very well going to weigh them at weekend and see how far away we are

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2020, 10:35:19 pm »
Zwartbles are not the best at mothering up


@SallyintNorth ! For the first time ever, I think you're wrong!!  ;D

We're in our 6th year with Zs now, and in that time we have only had two ewes that didn't want their lambs. One wanted nothing to do with them two years running (we won in the end, but it was hard work). Another loved one twin and hated the other two years running. Both are now curry.

However, because I only know my own sheep, I put this question to two other Zwartbles breeders who also farm commercially. Here are their responses:

Quote
Zwartbles are fantastic mothers - its one of their defining characters, they're a maternal breed.

I usually find if you have poor mothering problems it's a feeding issue not a sheep issue.

(That's interesting, as it backs up what @silkwoodzwartbles said).

And:

Quote
Nope in general not many problems they are a maternal breed. But I would say if folk stopped breeding from crap mothers because itís a show ewe or its pretty or it has good lambs etc theyíd get on a lot better.

And there you have it!

IMO, Zwartbles markings are a double-edged sword. One one hand, I love the fact that we never know what we're going to get, and the markings add another layer of interest to the quest to breed the perfect sheep. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of well marked but otherwise really crappy sheep for sale (e.g. far too narrow across the shoulder, or down on their pasterns). I'm no expert by any means, but I know enough now to confirm that not all Zs are created equally. Visit lots of flocks or go to one of the association sales and choose your foundation stock very carefully!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2020, 02:51:45 am »
We've talked about this so many times now, and I am sure we have always concluded that :

being a dairy breed, it was never selected for maternal traits.  (Being a dairy breed doesn't mean it's necessarily not maternal, but it most definitely means it's not being selected for maternal traits.)

the majority of folk who answered previous threads were lambing their Zwartbles indoors, or penning them for bonding as soon as they lamb, which masks some of the mothering problems you might see in a wholly outdoor lambing scenario - and it was specifically in the context of a new sheepkeeper breeding and lambing Zwartbles outside that I made my comments on this occasion

several reputable Zwartbles breeders can now assert good mothering in sheep they've bred, having ruthlessly culled any which had problems over many generations (from which statements I concluded that not all breeders can be assumed to have done this, so again, in this context, a new sheepkeeper buying 2 or 3 ewes could end up with problems)


Quote
Zwartbles are fantastic mothers - its one of their defining characters, they're a maternal breed.

Hardly.  It was originally a dairy breed. 
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

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2020, 07:36:18 am »
My ewes this year didn't give me a spot of bother and most of them lambed without us noticing until the lambs were up, dry and suckled, so although they got penned, it was mostly to get them out of the way of the ewes that were still to lamb (we lambed in January/February so the weather was way too wet and cold to lamb them outside).

I have however made sure to keep on top of their multivitamin drenches since I was advised to do so 3 years ago, and anything that's given me trouble over this time has been culled out. I now very rarely have feet trouble (and if I do it's usually scald following a move onto a new field with longer grass than they're used to and it usually resolved on its own), they're good mothers, milk well, and *touch wood* don't seem inclined towards flystrike (I had one ewe who got struck mildly two years on the trot despite having been Crovected as per the rest and on the second year I sent her cull).

I'm lambing the same 7 ewes again next year and have absolutely no concerns about any of them which is such a nice feeling  :thumbsup: It's taken a long time but I'm finally really happy with my little flock :excited:
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 07:39:29 am by silkwoodzwartbles »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2020, 08:08:05 am »
And that's my point, really.  I know that Zwartbles can be good sheep - our one remaining Zwartbles ewe Gwenneth is an excellent sheep in every respect, after culling all the Zs which had issues.

So, for a first-time sheepkeeper with no buildings, and only 1.5 acres so not got the capacity to buy in, cull problems, retain good ones to end up with 3 good ones, I stand by my caution.

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

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2020, 09:05:45 am »
And that's my point, really.  I know that Zwartbles can be good sheep - our one remaining Zwartbles ewe Gwenneth is an excellent sheep in every respect, after culling all the Zs which had issues.

So, for a first-time sheepkeeper with no buildings, and only 1.5 acres so not got the capacity to buy in, cull problems, retain good ones to end up with 3 good ones, I stand by my caution.


I think that goes for any breed too- cull hard, and your flock will be better for it. A sheep needs to prove her worth being in the  flock, donít carry passengers, donít put up with problems because she looks nice, donít pass go and collect £200  :roflanim:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep questions
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2020, 09:28:25 am »
Indeed, and I am sure we all do that.

However, if I were advising a newbie on a breed, where they want to lamb outdoors, I would suggest Shetland every time.  Because I have found that breed to be very suited to outdoor lambing and the breed most likely to have no lambing issues and no mothering issues, no matter who you buy from.  (Although I would of course always advise a smallholder, if possible, to buy from a flock where you can see that the sheep are well-handled, calm and friendly.). I have also found them to have generally good feet, to have generally a fairly high resistance to worms and to flystrike.  And of course the fleeces are usually great for crafting and the skins for small, soft sheepskins.

@vfr400boy I am so sorry we have gone off down a bit of a rathole.  But hopefully you can see that the advice would be, if you decide it is Zwartbles for you, then the thing to do would be to buy from someone who can tell you how and why their sheep will be trouble-free because of all the culling out of problems they have done, and also who lambs them outdoors without penning them up when they lamb, so you can be reasonably sure their ewes will mother up successfully outside.  And I would concur that you might be better getting two or three in-lamb ewes who have done it before (although there is always a question as to why the seller is selling those ones and keeping others for themselves, so use your intuition as to how honest the breeder is being with you on that one :/)
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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