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we are getting sheep!

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Hi everyone:

Well, it is official- we are getting sheep. My brother and I spoke about this again last night, and well, we are of the same mind. He owns the land, and is itching to get stock back on it, and I of COURSE have wanted to do this for some time. So, our tasks first are to lay out the pasture areas and fence in, and walk every inch to make sure it is "safe", and also then, retrofit the barn to make it suitable for winter month use. There ARE coyotes around, so I am concerned about them.... We have large coyotes in this part of NY. Anyway, that is the news. Any insight is great, especially on good numbers to start with, and pointers that will make it better for the sheep. They will of course be used for herding, but the primary concern will always be their health.


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How wonderful for you. A few folks I know here started with 15 ewes and now have 800. If you are certain that these sheep are only for herding then the advice I'm given is to go for wethers. If you choose carefully you might still be able to have good quality fleeces. That would be my strategy if I were such a lucky lady.

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Coyotes don't always pose a threat:

The great majority of coyotes don't prey upon livestock. However, once a coyote learns that young livestock are easy prey, depredation can become a problem. If this occurs, removal of the offending coyote is often recommended. However, when farms are situated in a coyote territory with no depredation, the resident coyote may actually be an asset to the farm by removing rodents and preventing problem coyotes from moving into the area.
I've grown up listening to coyotes singing under the windows (and I love listening to that wild witches' sabbath. Saw three coyotes run to greet each other and then break into full-throated song in Yosemite Valley one winter, when it seemed as if I had the whole place to myself---amazing how loud their voices seemed in the winter stillness, amplified by those granite walls). Everything I didn't discover first hand about coyotes I learned from J. Frank Dobie and two friends with commercial flocks. Tom (whose sheep numbered in the thousands) told me to make sure my corral/sheep fold was secure along the bottom of the fences---"They come under, not over," he said when I fussed about the hog wire looking so easy for a coyote to jump. And Laura (who keeps a commercial flock of Dorsets, and who's lost animals to mountain lions, but none to coyotes---Fish & Game shot the lions) told me about more research backing up the "resident coyote" comment above.


I've lost a duck to coyotes, but never a sheep---and coyotes have been raising their pups in the farm's biggest pasture for generations. I've kept sheep (disclaimer: a tiny flock, never more than three dozen) at the farm for nearly twenty years, and right now there are fifty or sixty sheep and goats on the property, and at least a hundred chickens. Coyotes are very common here---but we've always worried a ton more about stray dogs than coyotes, and dogs were responsible for the latest round of (chicken) killings. (Save for my little sheep corral, all the livestock pens are now hot-wired.)

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