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chaos theory
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:11 AM
There may be the possibility of some Christmas sheep in my future and I have a few questions ;)

We will be getting 3-4 ewes, is that enough for them to feel comfortable in their little "herd"?

Do they do well pastured with horses?

Anything else I should know?

I have a few books and websites that I have been reading and reading but any extra input is good!

ThirdCharm
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:25 AM
Sheep and horses do okay together. Hope you have a lot of grass!

Jennifer

LAZ
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:26 AM
They are tasty on the grill and produce one of the most wonderful textile/cushioning materials ever.

Otherwise, pretty spastic dumb animals that have adorable offspring, eat lots of weeds as well as grass and require some sort of protection from predators.

Luckily for me, my vet and another friend is heavily into sheep so I can get a lamb for the freezer without having to raise any!

edc
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:23 AM
We had a farm folk of 50 ewes and 2 rams for many years.

Observations:

You need at least 4 ewes to make a flock. Otherwise you will not be able to herd them. If you can get one were you want it the rest will follow.

They are OK with horses. Except we had one TB that liked to chase them in the field.

You need tight (impenetrable) fencing. Don't use cattle fence, they will get their heads caught in the openings. 6 or 8 wire high tensile with the lower wires hot (electric) works.

Learn to shoot stray dogs. They can savage a ewe with no provocation.

Maintenance is the key. Deworm regularly and trim hooves. Sheep will give up easily if sick or hurt. Their recuperative powers are weak.

We would shear ours in January and bring them into the barn for lambing. That way there was no wooltags to confuse the lambs when nursing. We lambed a bit later than others in the area.

If unshorn they don't need any outside shelter.

The lambs are cute and tasty.

"Where ever four or more ewes are gathered together they are discussing new ways of dieing."

Have fun. Ed

onelanerode
Dec. 17, 2010, 07:55 PM
I definitely concur with the spastic and stupid part! :uhoh:

Seriously, these are not bright animals, and if you have any issues with feral dogs, you'll need to make sure your fences are impenetrable (or add a donkey to your collection :winkgrin:).

ThirdCharm
Dec. 17, 2010, 08:27 PM
Thank god I was going to comment on the stupidity thing based on my youthful experience raising them, but I was thinking maybe I was just unlucky. Yes the dang things are dumb as rocks and you have to have EXCELLENT fencing! They will kill themselves at the slightest provocation... I dunno how mine survived!

Jennifer

Fractious Fox
Dec. 17, 2010, 08:38 PM
I'd like to keep sheep in the future, and have a family member who kept a flock for years. He and I have had many discussions, and I have to laugh reading many of the same things he's told me numerous times...

1. They are really dumb.

2. They like to die, and will find many ways to do so.


So, maybe don't take it personally if a few bite the bullet no matter what you do.

ladybugred
Dec. 18, 2010, 12:01 AM
Good reason to get a donkey, or adopt a wild burro!!

I have read that they rip the grass up by the roots, is this true? Are they too cute to slaughter?? That is your interest, right OP???? if not, I apologize for the question!

LBR

MelanieC
Dec. 18, 2010, 02:28 AM
I have working Border Collies and have been around a lot of sheep but never owned any. It is true that they are always looking for somewhere to die, but I think that sheep get a bad rap. They are certainly dumb by human standards, but they are smart in the ways that prey animals need to be smart and you would not believe how fast they can read a dog. They are VERY good at escaping if they see the slightest opportunity, and will face down a dog that they correctly recognize as not being tough enough to back up a threat. They are good at "predator calculus." In addition, the ways that they are dumb are pretty similar to the ways that people (mostly people who don't like horses) think that horses are dumb: easily startled, apt to run first and ask questions later, etc. So to me, horse people calling sheep dumb is a little tiny bit unfair.

If treated more like pets (i.e., more like how we treat horses) they can apparently learn quite a bit, and some studies have shown that they are extremely good at recognizing faces (weird, but true). I came to the sport of working dogs (I call it a "sport" because for me it has always been a hobby, not a livelihood) with a sort of contempt for sheep -- stupid, flighty, incapable of doing anything on their own -- but they won my respect. I like sheep. They can be very entertaining. I would love to have a small flock of my own (10-20 sheep), mostly for the sake of my dogs, but we don't own acreage and I don't have time to do horses AND sheep so I decided I'd rather have a horse instead. But if it weren't for the horse I would definitely have sheep myself now.

If I had 3-4 sheep I'd probably keep them more like pets to keep them happy. They are fine with gentle, friendly horses, who seem to like their company. A friend of mine runs a GREAT bulletin board where you will probably find answers to all of your questions:

http://edgefieldsheep.com/bb/

Have fun!

carolprudm
Dec. 18, 2010, 06:33 PM
FWIW, I think Icelandic sheep are less dumb than others....mine were quite intelligent. Icelandics need to be shorn twice a year, once in the spring to get rid of the junk they grew over the winter and once in the fall for fiber to spin....I LOVE to spin Icelandic thel.

Unless you get hair sheep like Kathadin make sure you have a way to shear them. Standard horse clippers are not strong enough.

Unlike more developed breeds Icelandics don't have long tails to dock.:)

Sheep are very succeptable to worms. To be safe in hot weather they should be dewormed every three weeks with something like injectable Dectomax. Or check their eyelids. Worms can kill them very quickly. They also can get meningeal worms, kind of like EPSM. Dectomax, used religeously should prevent it.

Copper can also kill them. Many vets have no clue how to treat them.

hastyreply
Dec. 18, 2010, 06:38 PM
I have a dozen sheep some of whom I've had for 8 years. Mine have been pretty easy. I have them to train my dog on. I love the lambs but hate selling them and HATE having a ram. I had one for a little while but since I didn't want 2 lambings a years I had to keep him separate. I'd love to breed a couple of my ewes now but haven't found a ram to borrow.

I kept mine in a stall for several years before I could get the right fencing. Lost one to passing through dogs when I had them out grazing. I had GPs for a while with them but they were to hard to keep in so rehomed them.

I deworm a couple times a year. Give them a round bale in the winter. I have my own hay source. Mine don't live with my horses but my friends do. and they will go hide under the horses sometimes when she's using her dogs to bring them up.

Mine learn a routine very QUICK. I really don't need a dog to move them, just a bucket.

I hate having to find someone to shear my woolies. But I like how the work for the dog.

I don't find them that difficult once they get a routine. I've had as few as 3 in my flock. The last lambs were twins and one got her leg broken when she was a week old. We were in NZ and my daughter splinted it and I kept it splinted for a few more weeks and kept her and her mama and sister separated from the flock for nearly 2 months. You can't tell now that she ever broke it. So they seem pretty tough to me. One ewe got her self cut on something. I couldn't see the extent of the wound. I just gave her antibiotics and bandaged it as best I could and she healed just fine.

Sheep you either like them or you don't.

ThisTooShallPass
Dec. 18, 2010, 09:53 PM
Copper can also kill them.

Absolutely do not feed horse feed to sheep. Absolutely do not let the sheep be capable of stealing feed from horses, or be capable of cleaning up any feed horses drop.

And the calcium/phosporus ratio can be a PITA.

"ALL STOCK," like you can buy at Tractor Supply or local versions, is low in copper, specifically so it can be feed to sheep.

Yes, they make sheep feed.

I about fell over yesterday when the young lady (one of two employees there) at my local feed store yesterday commented on a horse feed label, wondering why it said not to feed to sheep. :eek: The other employee, the Mgr. is not any brighter. :rolleyes: Thus, I repeatedly explained, you know as in say it three times so it will be remembered, about copper being fairly darn toxic to sheep :dead:; & pointed out they carry an "All Stock" feed LOW copper levels that is sheep safe.


You know how the more expensive a horse is the more suicidal it is? Well, even the cheapest of sheep are suicidal. So don't take it personally. But seriously, a common sense education in sheep & your losses should be nill to minimal. It just depends upon how seriously you take the issue of proper environment & care.

Hey, just think, now you get to learn about wool maggots & various & sundry other issues. :D :lol:

http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/articles/basics.html

back in the saddle
Dec. 18, 2010, 10:45 PM
Don't know I agree with this:

To be safe in hot weather they should be dewormed every three weeks with something like injectable Dectomax.

I dewormed my girls in the spring with cydectin and that was it. BUT they are not babies. Babies you have to watch like a hawk. I check their eyeballs and then decide to worm or not. I usually checked the lamb eyes every week and never wormed until their eyes got bad on the famacha chart.

My Icelandics are pretty smart. I was prepared for dumb and that they are not! Soemoen trained her sheep to do tricks. lol

I've been pretty lucky with getting two nice fleeces out of them every year. It's all in how you manage the hay. ;) I shear in August and again before they start shedding in the spring.

SkipHiLad4me
Dec. 18, 2010, 11:12 PM
Ditto the FAMACHA system for deworming. You can find a lot of information through the Extension service on this (google the NCSU livestock extension website). Barber pole worms are the big kicker for sheep and goats and can take them down quick if they get a heavy worm load. FAMACHA deals with managing the environment the sheep are in to minimize parasite pressure and avoid parasite resistance, as well as learning how to gauge the color of the inner eyelids to watch for anemia (usually due to the worm load).

The other issue they sometimes deal with in our hot/humid environment is foot rot. Otherwise, they seem to mesh well in horse environments and are quite cute as pets :)

back in the saddle
Dec. 18, 2010, 11:55 PM
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/bda84144.jpg
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/fc2a6879.jpg
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad198/HorseFeathersFarm/1d1de41d.jpg

Guilherme
Dec. 19, 2010, 12:36 AM
Perhaps the most suicidal of all domestic animals.

Extremely vulnerable to predators. A "protector" is a must. Some have had good luck with BLM burros, most use a stock protection dog (Great Pyranese, Maremma, Anatolian, etc.).

Must be sheared in the spring unless you get "hair sheep" that shed naturally.

Sounds like some fun, eh??? :)

G.

citydog
Dec. 19, 2010, 02:15 AM
I have working Border Collies and have been around a lot of sheep but never owned any. It is true that they are always looking for somewhere to die, but I think that sheep get a bad rap. They are certainly dumb by human standards, but they are smart in the ways that prey animals need to be smart and you would not believe how fast they can read a dog. They are VERY good at escaping if they see the slightest opportunity, and will face down a dog that they correctly recognize as not being tough enough to back up a threat. They are good at "predator calculus." In addition, the ways that they are dumb are pretty similar to the ways that people (mostly people who don't like horses) think that horses are dumb: easily startled, apt to run first and ask questions later, etc. So to me, horse people calling sheep dumb is a little tiny bit unfair.

If treated more like pets (i.e., more like how we treat horses) they can apparently learn quite a bit, and some studies have shown that they are extremely good at recognizing faces (weird, but true). I came to the sport of working dogs (I call it a "sport" because for me it has always been a hobby, not a livelihood) with a sort of contempt for sheep -- stupid, flighty, incapable of doing anything on their own -- but they won my respect. I like sheep.

If I had 3-4 sheep I'd probably keep them more like pets to keep them happy.

Yep. :yes:

We have two, a ewe (Friesian x Tunis) and a wether (Friesian x Icelandic) as landscaping crew. I bottle raised them, and they're entertaining critters who come when called and have a ton of personality. I think they're about seven now. I don't use them for working my dogs (I have BCs and Belgians and do some herding with them elsewhere) but they're really easy to move around without at this point.

I think they get a bad rap because people generally only deal with them in large flocks, and don't really get to know them. They're neat animals.

Humblepie
Dec. 19, 2010, 09:52 AM
Ditto all the above...our flock has dwindled to two...a tame ram and feral ewe. You are welcome to them!

scrtwh
Dec. 19, 2010, 10:36 AM
I have three shetlands, used to have five. I love them. I have never had a problem with the ones that remain. They are kept in a seperate area from the horses with Heavy Duty fencing. They are cute, friendly and definitely recognize me from my husband or a non-family member. I get two shearings a year, one in August and one in April. Send it in to a wool processing company and voila, a few months later get some high quality yarn.
I have several blankies, scarves and hats made from thier wool and this summer am hoping to get a loom and start to do that.
My guys eat grass, alfalfa and sheep mineral food. They get wormed twice a year, get their feet done twice a year and the vet innoculates them when he comes out to do the horses, dogs and cats in the spring.
All in all just wonderful fiber "pets".

back in the saddle
Dec. 19, 2010, 10:39 AM
What company do you send the fleece to? Do you have to prep it before it goes? I'd rather they do the washing.

scrtwh
Dec. 19, 2010, 10:51 AM
What company do you send the fleece to? Do you have to prep it before it goes? I'd rather they do the washing.

http://www.stonehedgefibermill.com/

http://morningsunfiberbarn.com/

Morning sun is a bit cheaper, but she does not have the capability to spin fibers that are longer than 6".
I use stonehedge because of that.

I just send them the saddle area of the fleece, they clean, rove, and custom spin. My three, little shetlands produce about 25 skeins per shearing.

chaos theory
Dec. 19, 2010, 03:09 PM
Thanks so much everyone! Seems like sheep are either a love or hate relationship ;)

We are still up in the air about the decision, but if we went ahead with it we would like to have 4 ewes just for pets, no breeding.

pAin't_Misbehavin'
Dec. 19, 2010, 03:58 PM
I adore sheep.:) For livestock, they're such dainty little things. I love how, when they get upset, they stamp their tiny hooves and sneeze.:D And they're excellent for the skin - worm a flock of thirty or so sheep and your hands are wonderfully soft from all the lanolin.

Like Melanie, I'd have my own flock if I didn't have horses. Not that they wouldn't get along - it's just that I don't have time for sheep and horses both.

I've heard that it's actually beneficial to both species to be pastured together, since they have different internal parasites.

I certainly wouldn't say sheep are dumb - I've met some who proved to be smarter than my border collies on occasion.:lol:

back in the saddle
Dec. 19, 2010, 04:10 PM
:D:D:D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fD5U9niSnc&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bejgp0dn3bs&NR=1

MaresNest
Dec. 19, 2010, 05:53 PM
I have four Gulf Coast Native (http://gulfcoastsheep.info/) wethers, and I adore them. I've raised them from weanlings, and they come running when they see me. They follow me from place to place - no need for halters or a herding dog (although I have one).

Be sure you get a breed that is appropriate to your climate. If you're in the South (like I am) there are only a few breeds that can deal with the heat/humidity/parasites. Gulf Coast Native sheep are particularly good in the South: they're highly resistant to parasites and hoof rot and tolerate the heat fine. I use the FAMACHA method to determine when they need to be dewormed. So far, they've needed it twice in about two years, and I've just used low doses of generic Ivermectin paste. Easy. I can't sing the praises of GCN parasite resistance highly enough!

As others have said, you need very tight fencing for sheep. (Less for the sheep themselves than for the dogs and coyotes that you must exclude from your pastures.) I have non-climb mesh. Others have had luck with closely spaced high tensile electric wire.

I don't intentionally turn my sheep out with the horses, but they have mistakenly gotten in with them once or twice without incident. I think it depends entirely on the horse. Sheep are small, and horses could hurt them very badly. I have a rambunctious young warmblood, so I choose not to risk it.

Do be careful about copper. No horse feed for the sheep. No copper-containing salt blocks for them either. I get around this by keeping my red salt blocks in the horses' stalls and sheep-safe salt in the pastures.

As far as shearing goes, contact your state's sheep industry association. There will probably be a touring shearer going around to association members' farms in the spring.

All in all, I find sheep MUCH easier to take care of than horses. Of course, I have a hardy breed, and one that is well adapted to the climate I live in. I might well be singing a different tune if I were trying to keep a breed adapted to the British Isles in South Carolina. But, given my situation as it is, really all I have to think about is keeping them safe from predators and giving them water. They love eating weeds and leaves and acorns, and generally I have plenty of that stuff to last them through the winter. I give them hay when I lock them up in the barn, and I choose to feed them a handful or two of alfalfa pellets twice a day when I feed the horses, but I'm sure they don't need it for nutritional reasons. They are handsomely fat and sassy.

Good luck!

MaresNest
Dec. 19, 2010, 05:58 PM
Also: I run a tiny little fiber cooperative around my sheep. Here's our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Flock/166076636743072), complete with pictures (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Flock/166076636743072?v=photos#!/album.php?aid=43681&id=166076636743072).

fivehorses
Dec. 19, 2010, 06:20 PM
maresnest, I love your sheep...I am so glad you did not dehorn them, I so much prefer the looks. My goat, Burt came with his horns too, and he is very careful about them.

Your sheep look adorable, and very well loved.:yes:

Touchstone Farm,Ky
Dec. 19, 2010, 06:38 PM
I don't own any but treat alot of border collies and go watch them work every chance I get. I actually have come to really like sheep over time. The first slideshow is a sheep dog trial. The second one is baby sheep...not sure I could ever eat one...
Sheep Dog Trial
http://smilebox.com/playBlog/4d6a45784e5445334f446b3d0d0a&blogview=true

Lambs <Too cute to eat > <g>
http://smilebox.com/playBlog/4f4441314d7a67794e513d3d0d0a&blogview=true

SLW
Dec. 19, 2010, 08:19 PM
"Where ever four or more ewes are gathered together they are discussing new ways of dieing."

Have fun. Ed

To which I'll add something I was told by a friend who raises sheep. "the lambs are born wet and crying and looking for somewhere to die." :eek: :winkgrin: Lambs are almost as cute as baby goats.

carolprudm
Dec. 19, 2010, 09:17 PM
Don't know I agree with this:


I dewormed my girls in the spring with cydectin and that was it. BUT they are not babies. Babies you have to watch like a hawk. I check their eyeballs and then decide to worm or not. I usually checked the lamb eyes every week and never wormed until their eyes got bad on the famacha chart.



In VA we have an issue with Meningeal worms. Infestation won't show up on their eyelids, and it CAN kill them. Barberpole worms aren't much better, but will show up as anaemia. Dectomax injectable will treat both

back in the saddle
Dec. 19, 2010, 09:34 PM
In VA we have an issue with Meningeal worms. Infestation won't show up on their eyelids, and it CAN kill them. Barberpole worms aren't much better, but will show up as anaemia. Dectomax injectable will treat both


Will it show up in fecals? If so, do fecals and only worm when needed. But blind worming can cuase big problems like drug resistant worms.

The problem with worming on a schedule is the worms get resistant to the wormer. You do NOT want drug resistant worms. Actually a lot of worms are already resistant to safe guard and ivomectrin. And several farms are reporting resistancies to other wormers as well. And there aren't that many to start with! People on my sheep forum are buying a new wormer from Australia it's gotten so bad in some places. And the problem will only get worse if people keep worming on a schedule. It's becoming a big problem.

Some goat farms have gone under because all the worms on that property are resistant to everything and nothing can kill the worms to save the sheep. Learned that in Famacha class.

MaresNest
Dec. 19, 2010, 09:57 PM
maresnest, I love your sheep...I am so glad you did not dehorn them, I so much prefer the looks. My goat, Burt came with his horns too, and he is very careful about them.

Your sheep look adorable, and very well loved.:yes:

Thanks, Fivehorses! I actually went looking for horned sheep and wouldn't have dreamed of dehorning them. :)

scrtwh
Dec. 20, 2010, 11:07 AM
In VA we have an issue with Meningeal worms. Infestation won't show up on their eyelids, and it CAN kill them. Barberpole worms aren't much better, but will show up as anaemia. Dectomax injectable will treat both

Dectomax the cattle wormer? What dosing do you use?

chaos theory
Dec. 20, 2010, 11:27 AM
Wow lots of people with sheep!

MaresNest, where did you get your Gulf Coast sheep from? I'm in NC and they sound like they would do well in this area.

MaresNest
Dec. 20, 2010, 12:06 PM
Hi Chaos Theory,

My boys are all from Hope Springs Farm (http://www.hopespringsfarm-ga.com/Sheep.html) in Athens, GA. It's a grass fed operation, run by two veterinarians. They were excellent to deal with and have a great reputation in the Gulf Coast Sheep community.

If Athens, GA is too far, though, you might be able to find a breeder closer to you by joining the Gulf Coast Sheep Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GulfCoastSheep/). Come to think of it, a couple of sheep people I know from that list are in the process of moving to Asheville... Not sure if that's close to you or not. Their ewes are actually also from Hope Springs Farm.

mroades
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:17 PM
I just started a new job today that requires care and feeding of 30 Katahdin sheep. What a learning curve for a H?J Princess...lol. They were fun and my JRT is sleeping HARD tonight after a day of pretending to be a border collie...lol

Drive NJ
Dec. 21, 2010, 03:51 PM
If you get the sheep you can always try extreme shepherding

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qniwI2hNhDs&playnext=1&list=PL411627587F2009FC&index=19

gingerbread
Dec. 21, 2010, 04:21 PM
A farm near me is one of the few in the country that keep dairy sheep. Sheep milk yogurt has become a major addiction of mine.

The farmers also make gourmet cheeses, and shear for fiber too. I bought a handmade undyed ( warm sepia brown)sweater there and the woman working the shop looked at it and smiling, told me the name of the sheep it was from.

They seem to enjoy their critters.

IfWishesWereHorses
Dec. 22, 2010, 12:26 AM
And if you get one who is an 80kg renegade, he will depart from his friends, and live with the horses who are miles from the other sheep.

Then, when after a long winter, its time to get the shearer in...he will NOT be caught. So, best method for catching is to corner him.... then when he gallops past you at a great rate of knots, get your 120kg husband to do a flying football tackle, bring the bugger down to the ground.

When said renegade realises he is caught, his legs will no longer work. This means that they go all floppy and will NOT hold his body up. No matter how often you haul him up and try and make him stand. They will not work. You will start to wonder if you have given him a heart attack and killed him due to the above mentioned rugby tackle. No, he's just playing dead.

thus the solution is to grab a length of rope, and wrap around his belly like a sircingle. Have 120kg husband at front of sheep, pulling on rope with one hand, and holding fleece on top of head with other. Take 60kg wife and place her behind sheep like she is in a football game also, bend over, place hands on either side of sheep, grab copious amts of wool. Place shoulder to the side of butt hole, and push like your life depends on it.

With this method, you will eventually manage to move 80kg renegade to the front of your farm where the shearer can shear him. It will take nearly 40mins however.

Oh, and it of course provides a better form of entertainment than television.

Or at least thats what my neighbours told me.

And dont get me on my worming escapades. At least husband videoed that episode. I swear we are becomming more like Old MacDonalds Farm every day.

back in the saddle
Dec. 22, 2010, 12:32 AM
get your 120kg husband to do a flying football tackle, bring the bugger down to the ground.

This... :)

Ask me how I know. lol

FreedomsPride
Dec. 22, 2010, 09:59 PM
I have 2 sheep with 2 horses, lived together for 6 years now. They've formed their own pack among each other (sheep and horses). They all follow each other around, eat together, sleep together and the sheep initate play with horses and vise versa.

The trouble has come when they don't realize their size difference and one of sheep has been stepped on twice- different legs both times. First time totally tore hoof wall off on one side. Stall rest for 2-3 months and bandaging and she came out of it fine. Second time we thought broke foot but really just messed up tendons in front leg. Vet gave 50-50 chance, and she again came out of it fine.

So that's our downside. They are pets.