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Info/ advice on raising lambs

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I want to get a few lambs next spring to raise for the freezer, but I have zero experience. When we bought our house, it had (still has) a giant lawn, and mowing it is a pain. We're working on doing other things and still trying to get used to this place. So in the meantime, I thought, why not raise a few lambs and put that grass to use and get some experience?

I'm thinking that only 2-3 lambs would be OK to start out. I'm looking for advice on paddock size and rotation, and breed selection. Ideally, I'd like to get the lambs once they're weaned and slaughter them in the fall.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Weened lambs are relatively easy to raise if you have good perimeter fences and maybe a 3 sided shelter. Hair sheep are a little hardier and they shed so you don't need to shear. If the grass is growing you don't need much supplemental feed, (depending on how much land you have and how young the lambs are) they need water and some sheep mineral (not goat because of too much copper). You might get away with no hoof trimming depending when you harvest them.
Barber pole worms are the biggest problem especially if summers are hot. Rotational grazing is a big subject, but for worm issues, don't leave them in 1 spot for more than 3 weeks (because eggs hatch in 3 weeks in optimal conditions) and don't rotate them back for 6 weeks (because hopefully they will have had time to hatch, not find a host and die). But if there have not been any sheep in your pasture, you won't be dealing with a residual population (I have heard deer can carry them).
They like weeds better than grass and love tree leaves and shrubs so take that into consideration. Some times they will eat bark and can do a lot of damage to trees and shrubs.
Coyotes and dogs (foxes when lambs are small) love to eat lambs and sheep.
Most sheep are gentle but you can get some ornery ones. For the most part they are great critters to have around.
 
Will Holland
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Location: CT zone 5b
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cool, thanks for the feedback Kris. As long as I don't leave them in the same spot for 3 weeks or longer, I should be relatively OK with worms, right?

will some kind of electric fence/ netting be ok or would you recommend something else?

Should I plan to NOT butcher them myself? I've butchered deer at home before. is it that much different?
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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3 weeks is good for barber pole worms but your forage may tell you to move more often.
If you have butchered deer, lambs should be easy (except they are sooo cute).
We have had limited success with electric fence and use it to sub divide with in woven wire and cattle panel perimeter fences. Sheep's wool or hair is so thick they don't always feel too much of the shock. It would take 3-4 strands of electric wire and a real good charger to be safe-ish (and dogs can go under or over). Netting is a pain to move, you have to mow where you install it and it is expensive. Weigh time, money, energy and long term plans. Good luck!
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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I have six strands of high tensile with Six joules on it. Your paddock size will very based on a ton of factors and can change based on lots of year to year factors like rainfall. Last year I could not figure out why my sheep were refusing to touch the grass. I have two huge crab apple trees that were loaded down. The sheep sat under the apple trees and ate them as they fell.
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 119
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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We have soay, got 5 ewes and a ram and now in year 3 up to 16, we cull 2 or 3 males a year. I rarely give them a grai nfeed, they graze and sleep under trees, fully harder, dont need shearing. No chems either.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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small carcass tho
 
Will Holland
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is a polydome OK for lambs, provided it's the right size? the neighbor's got one but doesn't have animals anymore, and I might be able to talk him into letting me use it.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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sounds luxury
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Tim Wells wrote:small carcass tho

My Black Welsh Mountain are very similar to Soay & I've found them too small to sell. In exactly a week I'll be having some 3 year old ewes with escapist tendencies slaughtered. I'm hoping for decent hanging weight & the breed is supposed to yield fine mutton.
 
Cj Sloane
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Kris schulenburg wrote:3 weeks is good for barber pole worms but your forage may tell you to move more often.
If you have butchered deer, lambs should be easy (except they are sooo cute).
We have had limited success with electric fence and use it to sub divide with in woven wire and cattle panel perimeter fences. Sheep's wool or hair is so thick they don't always feel too much of the shock. It would take 3-4 strands of electric wire and a real good charger to be safe-ish (and dogs can go under or over). Netting is a pain to move, you have to mow where you install it and it is expensive. Weigh time, money, energy and long term plans. Good luck!


I agree with all of this. Never had luck with electric for my sheep.
 
Cj Sloane
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Joseph Fields wrote:Last year I could not figure out why my sheep were refusing to touch the grass. I have two huge crab apple trees that were loaded down. The sheep sat under the apple trees and ate them as they fell.


I've fed mine apples. I'll have to experiment with crab apples too now.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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cj verde how did the 3 year old slaughter fair? good weight?
Im eyeing up a 1.5 year male for this November cull He looks a good size.

This years' lambs have outgrown last years significantly, due to better forage around my woodland versus keeping them on a treeless pasture.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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cj do you clip the black welsh mountain? How escapist are they?
 
Cj Sloane
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I selected all of my breeds to be good foragers. I've since been told this is a euphemism for "escape artist." That said, they've been free-ranging all summer so they didn't escape so much as not come home when I rang my bell. A hunter is convinced they were chased thru the woods to go so far. Could be - the forest is no different a few hundred feet away or 2 miles away than it is at my place. There was one that kept getting out of the paddock - I think it squeezed under the fence.

By clipping do you mean docking the tails? No. If you mean hooves, also no but my land is very ledgy and they clip their own hooves that way.

The slaughter is Wednesday & I'll be sure to post results.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Ok, do you shear them?
 
Cj Sloane
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I do have them sheared, probably not really worth it though. I do have a couple of skeins of yarn from the sheep which is cool. I used the last batch of wool as mulch. If I can get my act together I'd love to tan the hides or have them done.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Are your sheep easy to catch for shearing?

My soay thankfully dont need any hands on maintenance as I cant get near them, catching them would be very difficult. They would do their absolute best to escape, attempting near-impossible 6 ft fence jumps if cornered.
 
Cj Sloane
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Easier to catch now they have collars! Much easier to catch the males due to the horns. I have a chicken coop right outside the secure sheep paddock so I can often lure them in there and close the door. In the open they are impossible to catch. I guess you missed my saga where it took me 18 days to capture my escapee sheep.
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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How do the collars work?
 
Cj Sloane
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It's just chain with a carbiner. Something to grab a hold of and/or tie a rope to. BTW, looks like I was wrong about the slaughter day - it's next week. Gives me a little more time to prepare because I'll be cutting one up myself.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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It definitely does take some preparation. One of our lambs this year was very mean and always knew when your hands were full, so it forced us to "dispatch" him. I never even killed a chicken. Luckily my brave son did the actual killing while I hid in the house. After he was dead and bled it was not too hard to see it as meat and we figured out how to do the rest. We did not cut up chops on the first one because it seemed like too much work. On the next two, my friend showed me how to cut chops. It was a lot of work, but they are so good it is worth the work. After doing it ourselves, eating is a much richer experience. Good Luck
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 119
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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I have to lure them in close with a bucket of feed , then dispatch with a rifle.

I hope to develop lasoo skills for more management options.

I just cut the neck joint, shoulders, leg, ribs, belly and 2 delicious tender loins, which is the nice meat part of the chop. The testicles are apparently used in many traditional cuisines. I bottled it last time and fed them to my dogs, this time I will confit.
 
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