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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 17, 2001
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    544

    Talking Tell me about sheep!!

    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!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 1999
    Location
    Midland, NC, USA
    Posts
    7,297

    Default

    Sheep and horses do okay together. Hope you have a lot of grass!

    Jennifer



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2001
    Location
    Sheridan, IN
    Posts
    3,482

    Default

    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!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2002
    Location
    Westminster, MD
    Posts
    72

    Default

    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



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2001
    Location
    up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)
    Posts
    3,627

    Default

    I definitely concur with the spastic and stupid part!

    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 ).
    Full-time bargain hunter.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 1999
    Location
    Midland, NC, USA
    Posts
    7,297

    Default

    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



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 11, 2010
    Posts
    410

    Default

    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.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 20, 2010
    Location
    United States of Absurdistan
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    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
    I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

    R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2010
    Location
    OR
    Posts
    621

    Default

    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!
    MelanieC * Canis soloensis



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    14,456

    Default I miss my sheep

    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.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 27, 2004
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    Posts
    1,309

    Default

    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.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Posts
    3,113

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carolprudm View Post
    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. The other employee, the Mgr. is not any brighter. 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 ; & 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.

    http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/articles/basics.html
    "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2006
    Posts
    3,044

    Default

    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.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2006
    Location
    SE Coastal NC
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    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
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2006
    Posts
    3,044



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
    Posts
    10,827

    Default

    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.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2006
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    3,585

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MelanieC View Post
    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.

    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.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 25, 2010
    Location
    chauffering my kids....
    Posts
    115

    Default

    Ditto all the above...our flock has dwindled to two...a tame ram and feral ewe. You are welcome to them!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    May. 1, 2006
    Posts
    486

    Default

    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".



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2006
    Posts
    3,044

    Default

    What company do you send the fleece to? Do you have to prep it before it goes? I'd rather they do the washing.



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