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So I am reading, using the internet (way to much vague information), and speaking to local farmers.

 

Thats the problem, to many farmers. The northern Hudson Valley has lots of farmers. It is very rural here.

Lots of farmers, lots of sheep, lots of opinions.

 

I am looking at the Brecknock Hill Cheviot seems to fit my needs.

 

Storeys guide has been amazing so far and now I need to start to make some decisions.

 

What kind of sheep do you farm?

 

 

post-13260-037411300 1344032913_thumb.jpg

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Icelanders, that´s the advantage if living here, you don´t get to choose.

Okay there is polled and horned, and you got the so called "forustu" sheep, but no one in his right mind would choose those when working sheep with a dog, they are worse than goats.

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I raise mainly mule sheep (crosses between a hill breed--like Scottish blackface, North Country Cheviot, or Clun Forest--and a BFL sire). I cross those with a Suffolk ram to make market lambs. I also keep purebred Tunis (redheads!) and am crossing them with the BFL ram to make tunis mules.

 

J.

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Hair sheep for me. DorpersxKatadhin crosses with some st. Croix thrown in. Wish I had a shearer available but with so few sheep its hard to find one. I'd have wool sheep if we did.

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I raise dorpers. I have a commercial flock and a registered flock and run a fullblood or purebred ram on them both..gives me a good corner on feeders, market lambs and seedstock.

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When we move here 3 years ago we had Romneys and Katahdins. This place has lots of cockle burs which has ruined every fleece since we've moved here. Last month we sold the last of our wool ewes and in the fall we'll sell our last wool x hair ewes. We'll stick with Katahdins (perhaps get a Dorper terminal sire), at least until the cockle burs are gone.

 

Mark

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mark, I had that problem when I moved the sheep to a new pasture. My handspinning friends said they didn't mind removing cockleburrs but I found them awful, especially when I had to handle a ewe who was full of them. Yuck. I'm hoping I don't have the same problem this year--plan to get the landlord to bush hog if possible. It's bad enough when they come up wearning all sorts of long briars....

 

J.

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We had Emily Chamelin shear our sheep the first year at our new place. We told her before she came that they had lots of burs. After shearing a few she told us that other customers had complained about lots of burs which she found to be an exaggeration but in our case we were not exaggerating. We examined a few fleeces that first year as they were taken off. We could not put our fingers down into a fleece anywhere where every finger on our hand was not touching at least 1 bur. Like you, we had to handle the sheep with gloves and when they brushed against our legs we would get scratched through blue jeans.

 

 

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Hello,

Smalahundar, It has been suggested by the local farmers that one of the best places to purchase sheep would be at the New york State Sheep and Wool Festival that is 2 minutes from my house at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The sale day is On Saturday October 20th. There will be many breeds to see, some rare, some easy to raise. (More my style.)

 

It is looking like shetland.

 

Donald, considering where I live, a Shearer should not be a problem.

 

http://www.sheepandwool.com/livestock-shows-and-sheep-sales/sheep-sale.asp

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Late arrival to this thread - and a relative new comer to sheep as well. You learn a great deal very fast.

 

I have what might be called a "spinner's flock" 4 Shetlands and 4 Clun Forest/Tunis mix.

 

Shetlands - because they are small, thrifty, seem to eat everything, have lovely fleece if it's processed right and yes, they're cute. Really, really cute. The wool when hand processed is really quite lovely and it is difficult to buy true Shetland yarn - most of what is marketed as Shetland is from different kinds of sheep in the Shetland isles, not necessarily from the Shetland sheep breed. So now I have my own supply.

 

Clun Forest/Tunis - again because the Tunis at least eat browse - we have a great deal of multiflora rose) and they've taught the others to at least sample things other than grass. Their wool is lovely, their dispositions sweet. The Clun girls are rather large, topping 200 pounds now and a bit intimidating when roaring down on you, eager dog in hot pursuit. If you're thinking of doing any training with your sheep - my advice is to get smaller ones!

 

The Tunis wool is lovely. I've sold some yarn this year from my first clip (enough to pay for half of the processing)and kept the rest for me :). If I could expand my flock, I would buy more Tunis. They do have some foot problems (my crosses each have one foot that's a bit flakey) but they are just a nice all around sheep - good for meat and wool and the land. But there is that foot thing. IF you're going to have a large flock, it could be problematic.

 

The first thing to decide is what you want the sheep to do for you. We knew right from the beginning we wanted them to eat their fool heads off so we don't have to mow awkward places. We also knew right from the beginning that this was not an investment that would make money. I did make a few bucks this year on the yarn and sales may increase in future years, but not to the point where they will pay for themselves. We do however have a lovely pile of compost roasting for the gardens and our tomatoes this year are huge so there are secondary impacts.

 

I also intended to use them to train my dogs but that is quickly going south because they are all over-dogged now. We all know the routine so we really can't practice maneuvers but the dogs and I have reached the point where we can do every day work.

 

I also bought these sheep locally - they come from farms less than 15 miles away which means

1) they'll likely thrive in my climate and on my pastures

2) I've got some back up if I have questions or concerns about the sheep or the breed.

 

Mentors are always helpful. The person from whom we got several of the sheep helped me to vaccinate this spring. Storey's guide doesn't quite tell the whole story.

 

Good luck! Sheep are really wonderful animals- interesting and clever. We're happy that we have them.

 

Liz

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They're thin on the ground but there are shearers who prefer to not do larger flocks. Our shearer won't do more than 12 (We have 8 now) and he's quite reasonable. He just likes to shear sheep but doesn't have the time to travel and tackle large flocks -like many of us, he has a day job.

 

Liz

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[quote name='juliepoudrier' timestamp='1344085880' post='42328 I also keep purebred Tunis (redheads!) and am crossing them with the BFL ram to make tunis mules. J.

 

 

 

I love my Tunis X. Tulip is my prettiest sheep and the sweetest tempered as well.

 

P6062489.jpg

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Frisbeegirl, if you're going to work your dogs on the sheep, you might want to think carefully about Shetlands--they are very light and don't have a lot of flocking instinct. They're great for getting the dog to read the sheep, but they sure can be wild and might not be the easiest for a green dog and/or handler.

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Frisbeegirl, if you're going to work your dogs on the sheep, you might want to think carefully about Shetlands--they are very light and don't have a lot of flocking instinct. They're great for getting the dog to read the sheep, but they sure can be wild and might not be the easiest for a green dog and/or handler.

 

Ah Shetlands. I studied them for hours online when I was recovering from surgery. All the lovely colors of their fleece; the romantic history of the breed - the beautiful things you can make with their yarn (Jamison's wool website is particularly inspiring.) I do love the wee little beasties.

 

What they don't make very plain is that Shetlands live and die by the motto, "The devil take the hindmost." and they scatter like mice. We learned "Look back" by working the Shetlands.

 

 

They can be feisty too - my newest lamb who is about the size of a Cocker Spaniel conked Robin not once, not twice, but three times on the head when he dared to invade her pen yesterday to help me put feed out. My routine until yesterday was to walk through their pen to the big sheep pen and let Robin clear the route of sheep so I don't get hit in the stampede for grain.

 

Iris just wasn't about to budge. She just put down her little head and charged. Bonk! Bonk! Bonk! He was completely blind sided as we were walking into their small pen in a dim barn and she is a very black little sheep. Finally Robin ducked under the gate (big enough gap for the lambs to go between pens) at the same time and and the rest of the flock sailed out of the barn, giving us some breathing space. Poor Robin. He didn't start a fight with her (he has put her in her place once before, but outside.) Thinking it over, he probably did the wise thing (he usually does) If he'd escalated, we'd both have gotten hurt. Instead he tried to give her a chance to escape, which she did ducking her head at him once again for good measure on the way out the gate.

 

He shows no hesitation about going after a misbehaving sheep at other times and in fact had all ready given Iris a sternly worded memo the day she arrived. Probably why she didn't want to see him coming. These are the things you wish you didn't have to learn by experience. The first six times we went through that pen, everything was fine. Yesterday, she didn't like him. Good thing she's only 30 pounds.

 

And mine are tame. All will feed out of my hand, even these new lambs. There is only one that I can't touch but she comes up to me and I can get a rope around her to halter her for treatments. That's all I really need to do.

 

I've halter broken only one of the Shetlands (I decided not to show); and I will halter break these lambs for ease of handling. I've spoken with breeders who have halter broken rams for show who said they were fairly gentle but I also watched my husband go for a heck of a ride when we were helping with shearing last year and he had the job of bringing the ram to the barn. They may be small but they are powerful creatures. They can be friendly but they do have a wild streak.

 

 

ETA - on the upside, they are very easy keepers and birthers (if you are going that route). They will want to be outside all the time so you will have to think about predator control. Locking them up in the barn at night might be difficult. Shetlands are hard to contain. I suspect that's why Iris panicked yesterday. She'd been introduced to the fine art of herding then saw that dog coming at her again and had nowhere to go but through him. We have discovered they will go through, over or under a fence if they want to be on the other side of it (those photos of Shetlands on crofter roofs aren't photoshopped) and through the merest crack of a door to get outside. We have a mixed flock so they are a bit calmer because the others are sedate. That might change now that the numbers are even.

 

 

Pansy (left) and Iris -

They likely won't stay a warm (natural) black. I suspect their fleece will end up looking like steel wool but it's just a guess. You can't tell what a Shetland will really look like until the second or third year.

 

lambs.jpg

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Thanks for the sheep pics. They are awesome.

 

Thanks also for the advice for the shetland. The Tunis are lovely.

 

Going to the 4H sale this saturday to see what the young ones are working with.

Think it may help me with Keeva being 1year old tommorow. And me the handler only having experience with horses.

 

Looking forward to the sheep sale in October.

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I might get blasted for this, but most 4H sheep aren't great choices for production or a small flock. They're often "club lamb" Suffolks selected to win in the ring & need a LOT of feed. Think AKC vs working dogs. It's not always the case (such as in our dinky county fair where a grass-fed Texel cross cleaned up), but generally speaking, unless you want a large grain bill, stay away from club lambs as breeding stock or a low-maintenance flock.

 

Find someone raising sheep like you want to, and who has sherp you like, and go from there. I'm extraordinarily picky about what genetics make it into my flock. Grass-fed, but on irrigated pasture, might not work on my dry summer pastures, for example. Feed is expensive- it's not worth having sheep who need to have it poured down their throats.

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Thanks, I do not plan on purchasing sheep for 4H. (was an option.) Just going on Saturday to see the different types that the kids are working with.

 

At first I wanted to raise lambs (organically) but boy seems to be alot of work relating to the butchering.

(cannot be butchered using any facility that is not deemed organic.)(Plus vaccines, wormers on and on.)

 

Our local breeders and farmers will be at the auction in October. (looking for sheep for wool.)

 

Alot of shetland around, but this thread has suggested that with a year old BC and "Me" knowing nothing about sheep I may want to get something a little easier.

 

The fields are all set, need to run a portable lightweight fence on the outside of my plank fence.

At this time I do not need sheep who can graize rough terrain. Doesn't mean that I wouldn't think about fencing in a few more acres.

 

Merino wool is what people are suggesting. Still researchng so when the auction in Ocotber I will know the specifics of the sheep for sale.

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Hello everyone,

 

Our local breeders and farmers will be at the auction in October. (looking for sheep for wool.)

 

I would imagine that the auction you mentioned is at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhineback, and that would be a good place for you to see many of the breeds that you may want to consider for your first flock. You will likely see many breeds with fleeces that are highly desirable among hand spinners, and that may be the ideal niche market for your wool, as well. Personally, I like the Bluefaced and Border Leicesters, and they are usually easy keepers and work well for training dogs.

 

Regarding Merino sheep, they can often be a bit problematic to shear (as they can have skin wrinkles). As someone else suggested, get in touch with your local shearer(s) to make certain that they are willing to shear the breed that you are considering. Merino (and Merino crossbred) wool is very nice, but it won't be an advantage if your shearer won't shear them.

 

Good luck in your search!

 

Regards,

nancy

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Thanks Nancy for your suggestion. I already have a notepad with all the valuable information I have received here on the boards. Sheep suggestions, pro and cons for each etc.

 

I am really excited to even experience an auction plus there will be sheep herding dog demonstrations.

 

To bad Keeva can't come to this event but who knows maybe someday she will be herding the sheep at the festival.

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Also there will be sheep shearers at the festival as well.

 

Maybe I can handle the shearing issue before I purchase any of the sheep.

 

(Oh there is also canine frisbee demonstrations.) :D

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