Hello. I plan to have an offgrid permaculture homestead in the mountains of the southeastern US, and I would like help choosing breeds of sheep that are well adapted to this environment, as well as the future climate of the region due to global warming. I would also like to take full advantage of hybrid vigor.
Noted resistance to foot rot and barber pole worm, as well as many other diseases that usually flourish among sheep in hot/humid climates. Also has very desirable wool for clothing uses.
Seeming lack of desire, preference, or ability(?) to browse as well as graze.
Florida Cracker: Seems to be a subset of Gulf Coast Native Sheep.
Barbados Blackbelly: A tropical sheep breed from the Caribbean.
Even more heat/humidity resistance than Gulf Coast sheep. Hair sheep so no need to worry about shearing and less worry about flystrike.
No wool to use. While it has a noted resistance to many diseases much like the Gulf Coast, I have not found anything specifying their resistance to Barber Pole and Foot Rot.
St. Croix: A tropical sheep breed from the Caribbean.
A noted browser as well as grazer. Hair sheep as mentioned. Resistant to fly strike.
Santa Cruz Sheep: California island sheep breed.
Fine wool, much like the gulf coast.
Extremely rare. Drier environment so likely much less hardy in wet and humid locations.
Hog Island Sheep: A temperate climate breed.
Noted to actually prefer browse to grazing. Fine wool.
A more temperature climate sheep, likely less resistant to heat and humidity/moisture.
Curious to hear anyone's thoughts on these breeds as well as any others I've missed. Any pros/cons I've missed are welcome as well of course.
Ideally I would have sheep that can browse as well as graze, are heat/humidity tolerant and parasite/disease resistant, and are woolly rather than hairy (but I can live without this one). All mentioned here are excellent mothers, foragers, and lamb without issue.
Of these breeds, which ones should I get and how should I breed them between each other? I'm thinking Gulf Coast Native, St. Croix, and Barbados Blackbelly are my best bets, and possibly Florida Cracker, Santa Cruz, and Hog Island if I can find any of them.
Thanks to anyone taking the time to read and respond
If you want wool, get wool sheep. This seems like an easy decision point. If you might want wool in the future, get wool sheep in the future. Projects take waaaay longer than I expect- every time.
If you get wool sheep you must shear them, that is an additional project. Even if you don’t use the wool. Good wool requires protective jackets, unless you have a very nice pasture or a lot more patience than I do in the southeast.
I would have been happy with crackers (there’s a guy downsizing that is selling a flock that I was considering) since my #1 is parasite resistance to things in the southeast. Sheep selected for California are unlikely to do well here.
Pick Wool or hair, then pick someone doing it right would be my recommendation. There’s a guy in SC I will find his name, I got mine from NC, but pick a flock over a breed... Pick based on similar forage, fencing etc and save yourself years of selection!
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I guess I should have been more clear, so my bad for being ambiguous. I intend to breed these sheep together to use hybrid vigor and to get the best of all the advantages of each. My question centers around what are the pros and cons of each breed that you know of, how should I breed them together, and are there any breeds that I missed that would also be good?
As mentioned, I believe hybrids between St. Croix, Barbados Blackbelly, and Gulf Coast Native Sheep are going to be my most realistic outlook, and would give me the best of all traits like parasite/disease resistance and browsing as well as foraging. So my second question would be what are your thoughts on this?
Also, thank you for the recommendation. I couldn’t seem to find any Mike Turner on this board. Searching just seems to bring me to a comment of you talking about him previously. Do you have any specific threads in mind?
If you look at his old posts, he is a guy with lots of good advice on hair sheep in the southeast. Greg Judy has lots of videos on hair sheep as well, but on a big scale. Mike has been doing it for many years, and I would take his advice as very experienced. HE may sell you stock, that would get you YEARS ahead, since he hasn't done much but cull for many years. No assisted delivery, no worming.
I don't care much about breeds either. I would get good genetics for your area from someone who has cherished good genetics. Hybrid vigor is a cross-species biological concept for mules and similar crosses, you probably mean you don't want inbreeding as is required for a "breed" that is true to type i.e. other traits are eliminated or rare. Mike has figured out how to make that work in SC. he has mutts from all the breeds you mentioned and some katahdin. Starting stock like that are very valuable. I got mine from a couple hours away and they are OK, but out of six I have two underperformers. Thats a bad ratio. A good breeder should be under 10% that you need to cull. I seriously considered the significant expense of going to SC to get his- more than 11 hours each way.
Standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants with dirt under their nails
Navajo Churro our a hardy sheep breed from southwest.They range from new mexico Arizona Colorado and Utah.I know a man in southeast is raising them in Marionville Pennsylvania successfully.They our good mothers and the wool is good for fiber arts.Icelandic sheep our another hardy breed.ALot of color variety with both breeds.both do well in southeast.I recommend goats in the flock.They our characters,produce milk and fiber, and will also bring the herd back to the corral if trained.livestock guardians you can train most mutt puppys to stay with the sheep.Donkeys our good too.I think the best experience is hands on.You should try the breeds that you want.See what works in your area and what doesn't.I hope you create a new hybrid breed.That'd be awesome.Best of luck.
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No, I mean hybrid vigor. It’s the term for what you’re describing, when you cross different breeds to get the best traits from each and suppress deleterious recessives. It can also be applied to mixed-species hybrids as well. The opposite is inbreeding depression, as you mentioned.
They our hardy and seem to adapt.I think your going to run into problems and solutions no matter what breed you get in to.Research a veterinary that does livestock larger animals have them in your contact explain symptoms you'll have lots of questions for them over the years. We give sheep shots and put medicine in their nose for botflies.This year we had a bad case of pink eye.I'm curious about Icelandic myself.Out here they take a puppy away from their mother and put it in the sheep corral.(about 9 weeks old) Minimum human contact don't pet it or anything like that.border collies,great pyrnes,australian shepards dogs our good.(have a natural herding instinct.) But I have seen people use straight up mutt dogs.Feed it in a cage or just outside the sheep corral.Keep in corral though.make sure to make your corral puppy proof.when your out herding your sheep if you throw sticks near or at your dogs try to chase them towards the sheep use a verbal command (Go to the sheep)So they know when they go the sheep they our safe and won't get sticks thrown at them.(This is how the elders train their livestock guardian dogs.) You can also keep chickens in your sheep corral they'll eat bugs in there make sure to raise puppies with chickens and scold them if they attack them.a lot of grass where you live you probley plan to paddock shift them? but could also herd them sometimes.What's does your corral look like our you ready for sheeps?plans for paddocks?
I found this contact online you could contact them and ask about deworming if you want.Not saying that's the breed or whatnot that you want to go.Matt Walker from Olympic Peninsula might check out his posts I know he's got icelandic.Some of the breeds you were researching seemed pretty interesting.Get your corral nice and sturdy and get some sheep.Also I would invest in some handshears they run about 25-30 bucks maybe a shearing class but you could learn this skill on your own.
Thanks Ben, really appreciate all the advice and research here. I’ll be coming back to this comment.
Yes, I do plan to paddock shift them. Not yet sure on the particular details, those have yet to be determined. I don’t have any animals yet, I just like to plan ahead of these kinds of things so I have a basic plan far in advance of when I need it.
Thanks again, you’ve been a big help.
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