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What breed of sheep should I use?
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deanom



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 93
Location: Lincolnshire
PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 06 6:43 pm    Post subject: What breed of sheep should I use?  Reply with quote    

I'm planning on getting some sheep later this year, and am still unsure which breed, or cross to buy.

I bought a great book which lists all of the breeds, but ended up with a wider choice.

I am looking to breed for meat, not wool.

Dryish conditions, although clay soil can get wet for short periods in winter. Small field (1 acre), grazed hard in strips. Plenty of hay, leaves, comfrey, and tree hay to feed.

I like the look/sound of Poll Dorset, Ryeland, Southdown, and a few of the French imports, especially those which can breed out of season. Many others look interesting.

What are your thoughts

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 06 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You will get loads of answers, all from people extoling their own breeds they keep!!

I have poll Dorsets, and love them, but the main reason we chose them is that we can choose the lambing time, and if we wanted we could have 3 lambings in 2 years.

Bodger



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13500

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 06 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The downland breeds were bred originally to be folded in small areas and are suited for the type of regime that you describe.
About 10 years ago we kept southdowns. These are the smallest of the downland breeds and we enjoyed keeping them.
The lambs are a little prone to going fat if you keep them too long so you have to slaughter early.
On the plus side they are docile and easy to fence in and whats more they look nice !

Gervase



Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 8655

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 06 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm with Bodger - and would also suggest Ryeland as they are very easy lambers.

deanom



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 93
Location: Lincolnshire
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 06 4:18 pm    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote    

Thanks for the replies so far.

I must confess that i expected more replies, and perhaps some debate.

Bodger



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13500

PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 06 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

At the end of the day a sheeps a sheep mate !

I could tell you which breeds not to have though !

Lionheart



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 427
Location: Cheshire
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 06 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Norfolk Horn! Norfolk Horn!

Yummy hogget and mutton and a doddle to keep.

Support our rare breeds!


Bodger



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13500

PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 06 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Yep ! Is that the breed you don't have to shear ?

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 06 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

A disadvantage with the Poll Dorset is the extra wool, down the legs, and on the cheeks, which makes them look wooly and cuddly, but does make it harder to sheer.

I would go for a more docile breed, but perhaps if you said what type of regiem and management they will have then maybe we could suggest more.

My shepherd friend has been doing some very interesting research, with his flock on various rams, for example, but the flock management is totally different.

Louisdog



Joined: 22 Mar 2005
Posts: 716
Location: South Wales
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 06 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We have Shetland sheep, I liked their colours and the fact they are a very nice small size, and very easy lambers. We bred three ewes this year, two were first-timers, and got three sets of twins, with no need for us to intervene. The lamb is tasty too!

gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18377

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 06 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Not that surprised you're getting fairly consistent answers. You're in Lincs, which suggests that you should go for downland-type sheep. Downside, as said, is that they do go fat fast. Upside is that they tend to be docile.

I'd say stick to native breeds and ignore the continentals (at least for breeding ewes). Pure hill breeds are probably a no-go area where you are, and on that acreage.
I like Suffolks as downland sheep to keep, but the meat is a bit on the fat side. Pure Ryeland or Southdown would be better eating.

You could get downland breeding ewes, and cross with [what heresy am I suggesting here ? ] a Texel or Charolais tup for leaner lambs with meaty hindquarters.

Or Jacobs (a typical smallholders' sheep of choice up here). Good eating and nice-looking.
I like the idea of sticking to local-ish breeds, so Norfolk Horn night be another possible. You won't presumably want Lincolnshire Longwool if you want them for meat.

Why were you thinking of breeding out of season ? Lambing and lambing management is a lot easier if you do it at the usual time or even slightly later, so you can lamb outdoors when the grass has started growing again after winter. [With larger flocks, an indoor early lambing presents additional problems of disease that spreads when sheep are all together in sheds].

Re feet : you'll have to see to their feet anyway. It's the hill breeds that tend to have tough feet to cope with wet hill conditions.

What thoughts had you been having as to breed of choice, deano ? Also, what's available locally ?

lynn



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 06 11:39 am    Post subject: Re: What breed of sheep should I use? Reply with quote    

deanom wrote:
I'm planning on getting some sheep later this year, and am still unsure which breed, or cross to buy.

I bought a great book which lists all of the breeds, but ended up with a wider choice.

I am looking to breed for meat, not wool.

Dryish conditions, although clay soil can get wet for short periods in winter. Small field (1 acre), grazed hard in strips. Plenty of hay, leaves, comfrey, and tree hay to feed.

I like the look/sound of Poll Dorset, Ryeland, Southdown, and a few of the French imports, especially those which can breed out of season. Many others look interesting.

What are your thoughts


Suffolks and Texels are worth looking at.

Bodger



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13500

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 06 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

When we first moved here ( 18 years ago ) we bought a Jacobs ewe with triplet lambs from a local farmer and it was through her that we got to meet half the village.
She jumped like Arkle, the higher the fence the more of a challenge it was and she taught her offspring the same techniques. We ate them but we had to put up with mum for several years.
She was the only jacob that we ever had so I'm not an expert on them but it was such a pleasant relief when we had the South Downs.

deanom



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 93
Location: Lincolnshire
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 06 7:15 pm    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote    

Thanks again for the replies

I liked the idea of breeding out of season to get lambs at different times of the year, possibly not mating all the ewes at the same time.

I like what I've read about Ryeland and Cambridge sheep. Southdowns also look like being easy to manage in a small area, kept behind electric fencing and then strip grazing the field. The only dowside that I can see to keeping these slightly smaller sheep, is that they cost the same to slaughter and butcher as a larger one.

Norfolk Horn would seem to be well adapted to the heat and dryness of this part of the country. The woolless sheep, Wiltshire Horn, also look like a good idea.

Finally, I could get some relatively cheap commercial shhep from one of the local flocks.

Still not sure which to choose, but intend to start looking at some of the potential breeds soon.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14964
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 06 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Wiltshire horn don't need shearing, and look pretty when they've finished moulting. MIL's will come running when we go into the field, and the lambs positively love a scratch and tickle (terrifies my border collies who are used to things running away, and need serious self help on the sheep front!)

Haven't tried the meat yet, but will let you know next year.

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