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I'm thinking of getting some sheep/ goats

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  • I'm thinking of getting some sheep/ goats

    Hello COTH peeps! I recently just had cleared about 1 acre of land that is on a gentle hillside. It is unlevel enough that I will not be able to mow it easily and hence am considering getting a pair of olde english babydoll sheep and a pair of pygmy goats to help keep it managed (all females or castrated males).

    Anyone ever get a few of these guys and regret it? I have secure fencing, a nice run-in shelter that can be built for them, and no problem with veterinary care. Just wondering if they seemed more work than they thought at first. On the outset it doesn't seem that they will add too many more chores to my day...but maybe I am looking at it through rose colored glasses as I am smitten with how cute they are!!

    Any recommendations? Or helpful insights?
    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:

  • #2
    I knew a woman who bred sheep and she talked about how fragile they are and how high maintenance they are. I don't know if that was because it was a breeding operation, or what...

    I also know a woman who has a pygmy goat and loves it! She (the goat lol) will escape if she can, though she doesn't go anywhere.

    I've never had either, so I can't say first hand...I would contact some breeders and get their opinion...

    Good luck- I think both are adorable and I hope one works out for you!


    • #3
      I have goats and I LOVE them! My first two were a pygmy and a pygmy/oberhasli cross. They ran with my horses. After they died of old age we got into a small herd of nubians and a few oberhasli does. I LOVE my goats. My first two goats were hardy, but I learned how fragile these goats really are when we went to a show and brought back a bug that turned into pnuemonia. We lost our best doe to silent pnuemonia. Fine at night, dead in the morning. However we have a great vet and a cupboard full of antibiotics just in case. That being said, we've had the new herd for 1 1/2 years and the only issue was going to the show and coming back. They have been a joy to have around! And yes, adopt a wether from someone. So many castrated boys end up on plates!
      Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
      Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
      & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


      • #4
        Sheep and goats can be difficult or easy, much depending on how they are managed and your facilities for keeping them.

        I like sheep better, they are not too smart for getting into trouble. They are responsive to you, make nice pets, come when called, easy to train to lead and handle. Downside is they need at least yearly shearing for the fleece breeds. I put ours on a stand, shear them standing. There are tricks to shearing, can be easier to do. They will need you to check their hooves several times a year, and if you are on gravel or harsh ground, they are fairly self trimming. Otherwise you need to trim the excess hoof growth, can be done on the stand. Depending on how much you handle them, will affect how much they argue with you for shearing and foot care. I think the Babydoll's are hornless, a better way to go.

        Goats are cute, CLEVER, and very prone to escape of any enclosure. They get into EVERYTHING possible, when they do get out. They will climb up on everything upright, cars, bales, tack trunks, hay feeders. They will pull bales apart, eat the best and pee on the rest. Horned goats will get caught in fences, feeders, ODD places and tend to be a bit more pushy. I don't like such smart animals working so hard to get out all the time. Goats also need regular hoof care and I would want them dehorned for easier management and their safety.

        Both sheep and goats will bunt you, it is how the herd dominance is determined. NOT fun for the humans. You have to push them aside, discipline them for it because that is unacceptable!! Males of both species are MORE determined to do this, but ewes and does will also show this behaviour. It is an instinctive dominance feature you have to deal with. Best to pet both species on the SIDE of the head, under jaw, because rubbing the forehead STIMULATES the butting, they will want to push or hit.

        With an acre, you can have 2-3 animals, and they will never overgraze it. You will still need to go trim off any rough spots, weeds they don't like eating, but a weedwhacker would work for that.

        You need very good fencing for keeping the animals in, and wandering predators out. This could be the neighbors dogs come to visit. Not much more fun than chasing screaming sheep or goats, grabbing at them or running them until they collapse. Do you have coyotes around too? They also will kill sheep and goats. Some electric on the outside of fence can help prevent pushing under woven wire, but they jump pretty well. Could be an excuse to get a DONKEY!! Donkey will guard sheep, but choose a jenny or gelding. Don't get a mini donkey, not big enough to manage a couple bigger dogs.

        We have 4-H project, market lambs each summer. I really enjoy them, and they are gone by summer's end. They are stalled each night for protection from loose neighbor's dogs. So many folks do that late night "let the dog out" for an hour or so, dog goes cruising! We have bells on the lambs and if they get to running the bells are pretty loud, I go see what the problem is! Normal sheep noise is lots of jingles here and there, no steady ringing. These are brass bells, have a nice sound that carries well. More like hearing big wind chimes than cheap jangly noises. We never put the lambs in with the horses, a kick or knocking them around will damage them badly or kill them. I have seen horses pick up goats or sheep and throw them! The small animals don't read horses expressions well, won't quit bothering them.

        Regular maintenance is worming, usually best done by drenching the sheep and goats a couple times yearly. Sheep can't get any copper in mineral blocks or feed, dangerous to them. Goats need NEED copper, like horses. White salt is safe for both sheep and goats. Unless you milk them, raise lambs, you probably don't need to be graining them. You may need to give yearly selenium shots if your area is poor. Sheep especially get white muscle disease without selenium. No, they don't get enough even with sheep mineral blocks. Around here ewes get selenium shots a little before lambing and lambs get shots right after being born.

        You can keep sheep and goats until their teeth are worn away and they can't eat. They do sometimes die quickly, for no visible reason. Usually they are fairly sturdy animals to keep, not difficult to manage with being kept clean, sheared yearly, with hoof attention and a dry place to bed down out of the wind. You probably wouldn't buy a horse either, if you read all the stuff that can go wrong first in the Vet section, in a horse book! Ours have stayed healthy with almost no problems.

        We clip our lambs after washing them, blowing the drippy water off, which is how market lambs are shorn. Wool breeds could be done the same, if you are not wanting greasy wool for handspinning. We have had better luck shearing them using the big Oster Clipmasters and HORSE blades, than when using sheep shearing blades. Clean, soap-washed sheep shear easier, smoother, saves you on blades with our market lambs. A friend sheared her Shetland sheep with an Oster A5, and sheep looked pretty good for a first time shearer!! She used the #10 blades and kept the wool for spinning.

        You can just pick out the nasty bits of sheared wool, put the good parts in a couple of tied down pillowcases and wash them in a machine. Our market lambs wool is very short, so once washed and dried, it makes good pillow stuffing. Machine wash is much easier for me, than hand washing, which takes forever. You could make nice pillows or dog beds, or just throw away the wool. Babydolls do have nice wool, soft and longer textured.


        • #5
          I loved my sheep, always partial to those guys! Dumber than a box of hair, but so sweet and gentle.

          Here is what my vet says about goat fencing: if you want to know if your fence will hold a goat, throw a bucket of water at it. If none of the water goes through, then your goats will stay in.
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
          We Are Flying Solo


          • #6
            I probably shouldn't post this...
            The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
            Winston Churchill


            • #7
              Those kids are so cute, Frank!

              And then they grow up.....

              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                Originally posted by Frank B View Post

                omg...baby goats on crack...lol
                "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                  Those kids are so cute, Frank!

                  And then they grow up.....


                  I am a card carrying member....I still have nightmares of Hinky goat....
                  "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                  • #10
                    Oh, and to the OP..the farm i may start working for has Katahdin sheep, apparently very low care
                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                    • #11
                      Barbadoes Blackbelly Sheep -- hair sheep for warm climates - no shearing
                      Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                      The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                        Both sheep and goats will butt you, it is how the herd dominance is determined. NOT fun for the humans. You have to push them aside, discipline them for it because that is unacceptable!! Males of both species are MORE determined to do this, but ewes and does will also show this behaviour. It is an instinctive dominance feature you have to deal with. Best to pet both species on the SIDE of the head, under jaw, because rubbing the forehead STIMULATES the butting, they will want to push or hit.
                        Kathy, we have currently 11 goats, we had 18 until a friend moved hers. We've had them for over two years now and have yet to have any one of them even consider butting us. Even the bucks wouldn't think about it. Yes the potential is there, just like the potential for a horse to bite or kick. But if someone said "I want to get a horse" I would not say "horses will bite and kick you." Just saying.....
                        Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                        Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                        & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


                        • #13
                          Sorry Maria, even our cute market lambs do try to bunt you now and again. Does increase with age, and they are wethers. Other folks goats, some sheep, will try if you turn your back.

                          Maybe your goats get enough bunting amongst each other, in the bigger group? We only have the couple lambs at a time, maybe more "pet-like". Or maybe you have some secret body language they read as "stay back"! Certainly lots more animals than we have, could change how they interact with you. Daughter tells them she does NOT want to be in the flock!! NO hitting!

                          No fun when the 100# or more, lambs come up behind and bump you!! I almost never turn my back on them anymore, just not a safe thing.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                            Maybe your goats get enough bunting amongst each other, in the bigger group? We only have the couple lambs at a time, maybe more "pet-like". Or maybe you have some secret body language they read as "stay back"!
                            Well our goats are newborns up to age 5, though in the past I had goats into their early teens. I AM the "Goat Whisperer" on Facebook. I made a fun page for my goats. My motto is "sometimes you have to wrestle them before they can hear you whisper".

                            We take our goats for walks. They follow us in a herd. James and I are the herd leaders, all off leash. They are all very friendly and family pets. They just don't butt! We spend a lot of time with them. We have a small operation so ours are more like pets and they spend time together. Except the bucks are alone. Still the bucks have never even thought of butting anyone.

                            I just love my goats. My heart was torn when we lot the one yearling to silent pnuemonia in October. It was devastating. We are blessed to have a most excellent ruminant vet. Which reminds me I REALLY need to send her a card and small gift for Christmas!
                            Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                            Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                            & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


                            • #15
                              I have 2 goats with the horses, they are pets, one is a whether and the other an old female, I got her from giveaways, the whether i got from a breeder who raised a few for pets as well as meat or breeding goats.
                              I admit to goat stupidity when I got the female, it was pure luck she is such a nice goat, never butts, extremely sweet and smart. You can lead her like a dog and she is easy to handle, after i got her i thought well i'll get her a friend and went to find free goats, well i answered a bunch of free goat ads and they were either sickly or mean or something, so i found this breeder who does a nice job with her goats and got the little whether healthy and pretty well handled,it was worth the 45 bucks to get a nice pet goat.
                              I do their feet and shots, i've had them for years now. I had to take the female to the vet right away because she had mastitis that was gangrene, so she got a mastectomy since i wasn't going to breed her, the vet didn't think she was going to live but her she is years later. They do keep the weeds down. I think they're great.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Frank B View Post
                                Very cute


                                • #17
                                  There was a lot of good info in goodhors' post. We raise Icelandic Sheep for meat and wool--my husband's idea. I've gotten to like them a LOT. They are amazing for keeping down the weeds, and they generally like to graze on the areas the horses avoid. Any new type of animal has things you are going to have to learn about it if you are going to keep them and sheep are no exception. We have found the Icelandics to be pretty hardy, we do grain them but mostly so they will come when they are called. We are very careful about predators, sheep are generally considered easy targets for roaming dogs or coyote. Icelandics are less helpless in that regard, though--our ewes will gang up on and chase our dogs (except the LGD that they like) out of the pasture.

                                  Fence is another issue...goats can be a little tricky to fence in. Sheep are not that hard to keep in.

                                  I'm going to have to disagree with the posters that call sheep dumb, though. Certainly they think differently than other animals, but they are very perceptive, interesting animals. Our Icelandics have family groups whereby Aunts and Grandmas watch out for the younger lambs.


                                  • #18
                                    In all my years of raising goats, while I've had a few nasties that would go at me, none of my goats would DARE headbutt me.

                                    Just like my pony knows better than to kick me (on purpose) or bite me.

                                    None of my current goat herd would ever think of headbutting me. I am herd queen.

                                    Just had more babies born today, yay!
                                    Last edited by Epona142; Dec. 9, 2010, 10:29 PM. Reason: typo
                                    K-N-S Farm
                                    Daily Goat Videos & Pictures
                                    Website | Facebook | Youtube


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by 2foals View Post

                                      Fence is another issue...goats can be a little tricky to fence in.
                                      Or, to put it another way -- if it won't hold water, it won't hold a goat.
                                      "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                                      the best day in ten years,
                                      you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                                      • #20
                                        I did not read all of the replies - but you could probably get some market sheep for free - just go to the local high school where they have a FFA program. A lot of kids don't want to sell their sheep to the butchers when they are done showing them.. and will give them to you knowing they will have a good home instead.

                                        The saying goes that sheep are born looking for a way to die.. but honestly, we have raised our herd of Miniature Cheviot's for 4 years now and the only issue we have had has been with lambing. if you are not planning on breeding them - then I would say that they would be great at clearing out over grown areas. I run 2 Corgis with my sheep. The dogs keep the coyotes away.

                                        Goats climb.. sheep don't.(normally)