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Author Topic: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands  (Read 387 times)

wildandwooly

  • Joined Feb 2021
Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« on: October 16, 2021, 07:53:56 pm »
Hello all.

Just need a bit of advice regarding winter feeding Shetland sheep, all wethers and kept as a fleece flock. What do people feed over winter? I can mostly only find info for ewes. Just hay once the grass has lost it's nutrition? I'm guessing nothing more than hay for them as they're not ewes, but I could be wrong! Any mineral lick and if so what kind bearing in mind they are all wethers? The land is only just big enough for the 8 Shetlands I have and it's not brilliant pasture, ( although the grass put on quite a spurt through September!). They all look hale and hearty at the moment but bearing in mind the rough ish pasture and the fact we're 1,400 feet up and in quite an exposed area I want to keep them that way and have happy sheep!
 :hugsheep:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2021, 12:30:32 am »
Shetland wethers get fat very easily - I only have one now but he's a big boy  ::) .  Ad lib hay is a must as you have not much grass so it won't be nutritious over winter. A salt lick is good.  Mine has access to a bucket lick as well but only because he's in with the tups, it's really too sweet for him.  He also has access to browse in the form of hedges which he loves and reaches amazingly high with his extendable neck! In addition we cut willow branches for them when there's snow lying and our grass, even though we're at 1000' lasts all winter, although the nutritional content won't be great.
Shepherds in Shetland say that poorer grazing is better for fleece quality, making it finer.  My lad has a lovely fleece - he's about 7 now and too fat but the fleece quality has stayed the same so far.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

wildandwooly

  • Joined Feb 2021
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2021, 01:04:24 am »
Ha ha Fleecewife yes mine are all looking a bit chunky but not too bad :D. I know Shetlands do pretty well on quite little but they seem really hungry at the moment once I put a bit of hay out today. They ate the lot very quickly!  ::). Interesting what you say about the fleece but mine do seem pretty good so far. The salt is a good idea, I haven't been giving them that. They did have a mineral lick bucket suitable for boys earlier in the year when the weather was still bad as we had 3 and a half months of snow! I just wasn't sure if that was the right thing to continue to give them. They haven't had anything over the Spring/Summer. Actually some were keen and did go for it but some weren't bothered at all. I haven't done a soil test, which I did mean to do, so don't know what might be lacking mineral wise but we can get quite harsh long winters here. I give them a very small amount of sheep mix once or twice a week, again suitable for boys, just to keep coming to the bucket which makes my life much easier!  :innocent:

Bywaters

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2021, 09:34:03 am »
Surely condition scoring is the key here ?

Start with hay and if they loose condition / the weather gets bad, then supplementary feed

What score are they at now ? and what score do you want them to end up at in APril ?

wildandwooly

  • Joined Feb 2021
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2021, 11:32:57 am »
You're quite right Bywaters, thanks. :thumbsup: I'd say they're a good 3 def not a 4. By Spring I'd be hoping they're still scoring 3 but yes I'll keep a close eye on their condition  :)
Fleecewife do you use any particular salt lick or are any particular good ones?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2021, 11:42:29 am »
We buy the sacks of himalayan rock salt from our local agri merchant.

If your boys are for fleece, you do want to be sure their mineral levels are right; deficiencies in copper and cobalt in particular can affect the fleece (colour and strength respectively.)  You might do better with a once or twice a year good quality chelated drench than using sweetie buckets, if they are tending to the portly side.
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

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2021, 11:46:16 am »
I use Himalayan salt licks on a rope.  Our local agric store doesn't stock them so I get them from Ebay - they weigh about a kilo each and cost more to send than to purchase so I get a few at a time, but then I have more sheep than you do. They take it as they want it, same with licky buckets, sheep know what they need and they are not all the same. One tip with the rope, keep it taut so they can't get their heads in, and take it away once the lick's gone, to prevent accidents.
For licky buckets, ours only get them in winter.  Because they get willow, the bark has plenty of minerals etc under it so I don't feel they need supplements in summer, but judge it according to your conditions.

For condition scoring of course Shetlands being primitives should have a fairly low score, as they don't store fat on their backs.  3 sounds fine, not more than 3.5 though, but honestly I wouldn't worry too much.  A handful of rattly feed is fine every now and then, you could even up it a bit if the snow lies for long.


Cross posted with Sally  :bow:
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

wildandwooly

  • Joined Feb 2021
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2021, 12:20:39 pm »
Good point about the cobalt and copper and drench Sally and great advice as always Sally & Fleecewife  :thumbsup:
Thanks very much to everyone, all really helpful  :) Great we've got The AS isn't it?  :love: It's been such a big help to me this last 2 years as a newbie to all this. But now I'm addicted to sheep and I'm almost always outdoors in the fields or with the chickens and ducks  :D
 :hugsheep: :hughen:   :&>  :farmer:

Bywaters

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2021, 06:46:51 pm »
Denis Brinicombe does a good range of licks helps feet and orf

look up "tubby" 

just be sure you use a b rather than a p ( members in cornwall will def know why!)

wildandwooly

  • Joined Feb 2021
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2021, 08:18:26 pm »
Thank you Bywaters and will do  :D

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Winter feeding Wether Shetlands
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2021, 09:47:11 pm »
Denis Brinicombe does a good range of licks helps feet and orf

look up "tubby" 

just be sure you use a b rather than a p ( members in cornwall will def know why!)

Oh pleeese tell us why  :eyelashes:
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

 

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