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Gulf Coast Sheep


timberviewfarm
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I have a local farmer who raises these and have the potential to come home with a ram and a few ewes. I have read up on them on the internet, on paper I like that they are highly parasite resistant as well as being foot rot resistant.

 

Beyond that I know nothing about them...anyone have any experience with them? How are they at being worked by dogs? Do they have to be sheared more than once a year? I know the rams are horned, any horn type problems?

 

I'd like to know the good, bad and in between!

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Penny Tose has had quite a nice flock for several years at her place in south Mississippi. They are pretty light sheep that don't dog too quickly, if you treat them right, and they are moderately parasite resistant in Mississippi and Louisiana, where parasites are rampant in our mostly hot, wet climate.

 

They come horned and not horned, both males and females, and are small to medium sized sheep, but they do require worming and are sheared once a year. The wool is very low quality. In our hot wet climate, they tend to grow a nice green algae cover over their backs every so often.

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Natives will become as dog broken as any other sheep if a lot of inexperienced dogs work them. That said, even my well dogged Natives can be difficult for dogs accustomed to sheep that don't have to be managed thoughtfully.

 

Mine do get worms and some footrot because I don't cull as ruthlessly as I should and I have used non-Native rams on them. Still, my Natives are far more resistant than any of the other breeds I have had in the deep south. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't worm at all and let nature take its course. If you are not starting with any parasite load on your property, you might try that.

 

Yahoo has a Gulf Coast Native list.

 

Penny

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I currently have a small flock of dorper/katahdin sheep. I am paring down those and looking into the gulf coast native sheep. My dogs need lighter sheep and rarely does anyone come over to work dogs, except for my own 3 dogs. I have culled in my hair sheep flock for those with foot problems and those who arent worm resistant.

 

I am in NC so would experience some of the same parasite problems you have...

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Interesting topic. Very interesting breed, or maybe more correctly, breed type.

 

I went to the Univ of Florida many years ago when I was a grad student at Mississippi State and saw the flock of Natives they had at the University. They hadn't treated those sheep for any type of parasite since the mid 50's, not even liver flukes. That particular flock, or at least some of the remnants ended up at LSU I believe.

 

A number of years ago I met with other small ruminant specialists to make some recommendations on breeds to collect semen or embryo's from to save in a germplasma bank. The unanimous first choice was the Native, primarily due to the parasite resisitance and the potential good it could do the sheep industry in years to come with technology to incorporate that trait into "improved breeds".

 

My impression of those sheep is that the pure natives do not need deworming. They are genetically resistant, or at least resilient, to roundworms. However, this trait does not carry on to a F1 cross. So, if the true native is "improved" with another breed type, some of their attributes will not carry on to the next generation(s), most noticeably parasite resistance.

 

Penny, are your natives bred pure from native stock or has there been some other breed(s) infused along the way? I know it is hard to tell if they have been purchased at some point, since the breed type of a native is such a diverse phenotype.

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I got my first 30 Natives from Willie Core (I think I have the name right), who is (or was) an ag extension agent nearby in Louisiana. They probably were true to type. My second batch of 30 also came from him and were not as hardy. I have gone back to native rams for the last two years and am hoping to upgrade worm load tolerance and good feet. Nevertheless, mine are far more resilient than the first breeds I had down here, which were Katahdins, then Dorpers.

 

Mike, I have no idea about purity. For the most part, their appearance is like other native sheep that I have seen locally. Terry Toney and I saw a couple of hundred not far from here. Except for never being sheared, they looked about the same as mine, were never wormed or treated for footrot, and spent a lot of time in the woods, I think. We observed a few with bottle jaw and a few limpers; by and large, however, they were hardy and she bought some. Hers were as wild as Wyoming antelopes and would do things like run and jump on an old Katahdin wether who was lying down, spring off him, then run away, and repeat the game. Mine are no longer like that.

 

Terry can probably tell you about the LSU sheep.

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The LSU sheep I worked with in the early 80's were originally from a research station in Alexandria, LA- (part of the LSU system- that specialized in research for family subsistence farms) which started collecting them from local farms in the 40's and 50's and were genetically pure. They were really active little guys and looked very much like Penny's and the Mississippi breeders' flocks- head and even a portion of their neck were usually without any fleece, bellies were bare, legs were thin and hair covered. Face and leg colors ranged from a light to medium brownish red to white. Incidentally, I bought (and was introduced to) my first border collies by the shepherd (Tom Gray, I think his name was) of the LSU sheep farm in 1979. They were considered to be a mutton type sheep for small farms, and possessed a fairly undesirable wool type. Wool type was never a consideration since we rarely wear it down here.

 

I know that the flock was maintained genetically pure for years, but the switch to using them as substitute research animals for cattle nutrition and repro studies maight have changed that over the years. When I was at LSU the native sheep were always kept separate from the other "improved" flocks, I don't know if that is true anymore.

 

I do know that these little guys were in small numbers on everyone's farm when I was growing up and were common up until maybe fifteen years ago. Now they are very hard to find in any number.

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