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kadence blevins

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since Dec 01, 2012
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Recent posts by kadence blevins

Some ewes won't bag up until they lamb. I've not experienced this with mine but I do hear about it from others.

Newborn lambs need to consume 10% of body weight in colostrum. so 4.8oz if I did the math right.

Being smaller than usual and no milk I would think possible premature birth. However if the lamb is acting normal than it can't have been all that early. How big are your lambs usually? I would keep a close eye on them.

Is this a first time mom? Sometimes first timers get freaked out by the birthing and associate 'that thing' with the trauma of birthing. This can be compounded if they have a full udder and nursing is painful initially being over-full. Obviously that isn't an issue with this one.

What is the breed?
What are your priorities and in the highest to lowest priority?

Can you search online or ask around to find out what is in your area that you'd be willing to travel to buy stock? And of these, which are raising their animals closest to what you would be giving them on your property?

Study your property and decide how you will be using it. Where will infrastructure be? Where is there water available (natural running) and where could you easily get water access?

5hectare is about 12 acres. Depending on how productive it is you could raise a lot of sheep. If you want them in forested areas how much greenery is available there? Is this like picturesque forest with grass and branches way high and lots of light? Or is it regrowth trees with lots of mixed age trees and low branches and brush. Sheep will browse plenty but still need lots of grass and leafy roughage. I grew up with dairy goats and they seemed to browse for certain weeds through the grass rather than graze much grass at all. Sheep browse, graze, browse, graze,... The sheep will still kill young trees deemed tasty. But they seem to deem trees in general much less tasty than goats which will ramble for acres and then girdle a seemingly random tree.

I don't know what all would be available to you in finland. But given the climate I would definitely think European shorttail breeds as you've started already.
If you don't have a market for lambs and aren't planning to eat much lamb or mutton then I would definitely recommend starting with some wethers. You should be able to find wethers fairly easily and will be cheaper than breeding stock. You could get two or three shetlands, icelandics, and finns then see which ones you like the best. If some you don't like at all you can eat or sell on then invest in a couple ewes of what you did like. From the local breeders find out if they'd be willing to loan you a ram or let you bring your couple ewes over for breeding.
I would suggest against finns because they are bred for year round breeding and to produce litters of lambs. They are a production breed. One one hand that means they milk well to feed the lambs. On the other, now you have 2 to 6 lambs per ewe. And if you pull them to milk the ewe for your table are you going to invest in replacer for the lambs? And are you willing to take that time investment for bottle feeding or training them to a nipple bucket?
All sheep make milk, some more than others. You can milk any of them. If you find some sheep you like you can always select for milking.
One thought would be in your breeder searching ask if they sell cull ewes. Usually ewes a few years old that they are cycling out of the flock for younger ewes but that are still likely good stock and will give ya a few years of lambs. And some might be nice young ewes being culled for throwing singles and the producer wants twins and triplets.

Also, why do you want horns? Sheep are being bred to be polled because they are easier to handle. Rams with horns get more rambunctious as a general rule and are more likely to get into scuffles with other sheep and people. Just be sure you are ready to man handle the animals you will have because eventually they all need it for one reason or another.

If you are interested in selling the wool then find local guilds or groups that meet up for spinning etc crafts. Find out what they like and would buy.
Also, while searching for breeders ask about their shearers. Here it is hard to find shearers and once you do they jerk ya around if it's less than 100 to be shorn. Find out rates, usually ewes and wethers are one price and rams are double that, and setup/travel cost. And when they shear. Here shearers put together their calendar in January and you'd better have your dates you'd like to be shearing in to them or you're out of luck chuck.

Three years ago I started this thread with the basics of my goal. I now have a flock of 24 and will be lambing in April. Some bumbling, false starts, parasite problems, heat, cold, deluge rain, drought,.... I'm doing some redirecting in 2019. After serious contemplation, soul searching, and far too much number crunching for someone who doesn't enjoy math... I decided that I was either going to take meat lambs to the bigger auction (50 miles away) or I was going to have to cut down to 10 and suck it up as a hobby money pit.

Not that I was against meat animals. Not at all, there is lamb and rabbit in the freezer that was born and raised and butchered by me. (And two deer from the farm this season) Until this reassessment I didn't realize how in the hole I was going and how much return I could be taking advantage of with intentionally making sure I had lambs to market that way.

The flock will be moving from mostly shetlands and crosses to mostly BFL-shetland 'mules'. In 2020 I plan to bring in some Corriedale ewes that will also become a mainstay of the flock. From there I will work on wool quality and hardiness. I believe with this mix of sheep and crossing that I will get really nice fleeces that are fine to medium micron.
By 2022 I should have my flock built up to around 50 ewes and several rams. I estimate this amount of sheep and these breed crosses will shear near 400# raw wool a year. Between half to three quarters of that weight will end up usable/saleable product. Roving, yarn, pillows, and quilt batting.

I'm also hoping to combine this idea with one that's been knocking around my head a while. I am going to go to some farmers about buying part or all of their wool clip. At first probably just set up to go to a couple during their shearing and buy fleeces from them. By fleeces I mean reasonable poundage, like 50+lbs or 10+ fleeces. This fiber I would go through and prepare for the mill and have milled into various farm yarns/rovings/top. I've asked around and I have some people that are indie dyers who would buy farm yarn/roving bases. So I'm covering multiple markets. Depending on how thing's go this could be as early as 2021.
None of my sheep will lift their feet off the ground any higher than what it takes to walk lol. But yes some sheep are a lot more jump-happy but it tends to depend on where you get them. I know someone who has 3 strand electric for her sheep and mostly they are shetlands.
I would like to add that different breeds of sheep have different standards of crimp. A longwool should have lovely curls and waves. A merino should not.
A shetland can have three different styles of fleece, and there is a *wide* variety of crimp and texture among that.. Sometimes even on a single animal..
1 year ago

stephen lowe wrote:
Kris, I was given to understand that these sheep didn't need to be sheered but could be rooed or basically plucked as they naturally shed. Is this not the case?

Not all sheep of any breed will roo. Generally it is more common in certain breeds than in others, but even within the breed it is highly variable. Some people breed for animals that do roo, some people breed for animals that do not roo. You will have to be able to go out many times in the spring and pull wool from them if they roo. It almost never all comes off without help from all that I have seen and read. And some animals will only roo partially and still need shorn the rest of it. No matter what I would definitely suggest having some phone numbers on hand for someone that can come shear them if needed anyways.

I would highly suggest having a look at fibershed. They started in California. I will link the producer directory but the whole site is great.

Shetlands and Icelandics are great heritage breeds. They aren't great for everyone. They aren't great for all purposes. They are smaller and generally more lanky in build than most modern breeds. You will not be able to compete with pound of gain against other breeds. However these breeds do generally need less help lambing, less fuss over the year, and will do great on pasture alone (if you can support it with your land and number of animals).

I follow several breed specific facebook groups and one of the Icelandic sheep groups a while back was talking about using rams over commercial breed flocks for terminal meat lambs. One person had a picture of a Suffolk x Icelandic that was 140lbs at 4 months old with no grain. Something like this seems like it will be more to your goals.

I would suggest seeing if you can make farm visits to the places you found near you. Have a list of questions. Ask about when they breed and lamb,.. when they shear,.. what traits they breed for,.. what they feed through different times of the year (pasture, grains/mix, minerals, hay,..)....
I have found lovely animals that I really wanted to come home with and did not because the animals were raised in a very "coddled" fashion and would not add well to my standards of hardiness.
I am going to be saying a lot here. None of this is meant to judge or be mean to anyone. The following response is simply my knowledge-base and many opinions which I try to differentiate.  

Travis Johnson wrote:In a perfect world it would all be so seamless: milk, meat and wool, but it is not that simple.  Sheep breeds that are excellent for meat have really poor milk production, and I am talking like half of what the dairy breeds are. Sadly the dairy breeds make poor meat sheep because they really grow slow and are smallish in size, and make rather poor wool. And of course great wool means less protein since it makes the wool brittle, which is not the ideal way to raise sheep for slaughter.
Milk sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same wool as a merino. Meat sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same as a merino. Merino is a breed that is currently only great at super fine wool and nothing else. AND. Merino wool isn't thee only wool or thee most perfect wool. Actually I really hate merino wool for many reasons. The main thing is that all sheep breeds are good at different things and all wools are good at different things.
As with the OP, herein lies the issue of educating people. Merino isn't the god of all wool. Just like angus isn't the god of all beef. And since I live in a rural area and right now every black cow, calf, heifer, steer, or bull that passes through the local auction is trying to be passed off as black angus.. and almost none of them have any worthwhile meat type.. and they all are black so the price will double or more what any other cow sells for just for that. It is really hard to educate people.
As to protein for meat vs wool what you state is not correct at all for wool. Sheep all need the same thing to thrive and do their best at whatever it is they are doing, be that making milk, meat, wool, or all three. If a sheep isn't getting enough of something their health will decline and they will not produce well no matter what the purpose of production. Be it protein or minerals or any number of things. That said, some breeds are much better at doing better on lesser feed. This is only after many generations of breeding and mostly found in the heritage breeds which are now used more for wool or small farm stock than for large production like in the breeds hay-days. That doesn't mean they can't be great producers.

raven ranson wrote: But this method involves culling and the thought experiment is how to raise sheep for wool without them going for meat.
In short my answer to this is, there isn't any reason **other than human delicacy or anthropomorphizing** to not eat/sell at least a portion of a flock, or really any livestock.
In detail here is my reasoning:
1) you cannot make the population better without removing the unwanted. If I want all superfine wool merinos I cannot leave the higher micron testing sheep with the flock. They will reproduce along with the flock and bring down the micron of the flock as a whole by having more and by letting them breed with the finer animals. From what I read and have seen so far in person when breeding sheep the wool will always be of a micron on the coarser side of the parentage. If I breed a fine wool to a medium wool I will have lambs that are finer than the medium wool parent but definitely not as fine as the fine wool parent. I have to remove the coarser wools to get a finer wool flock.
2) there is always undesirables to weed out. No matter what the cause for an animal being undesirable. This could be animals that produce poorly, that have fault in type, that are not as hardy, that have serious genetic conditions,...
3) you have to have at least minimal reproducing to keep up your stock numbers for wool production. Even if this is kept in very careful balance there will always be that year you have 13 ram lambs and 4 ewe lambs or vice versa. Even if you keep a predominately wool wether flock with just enough ewes to keep up numbers, you have to realize animals will all age and their production changes with age, and what you will do with the sheep when they become old gummers and can no longer eat. Very very very few people are willing to keep every animal until it may be 15 or 18 years old and dies of old age. On top of the fact that by that time the animal is becoming a cost in money and time and either not producing or producing wool that is of much lesser value or even use.

raven ranson wrote: Increasing the value of the wool. Adding value to the wool.
Increasing and adding to the value of wool depends entirely on the consumer you are marketing to and what you are marketing. This also plays ALOT on the education of the consumer.
Are you marketing raw fleeces? Are you gearing toward handspinners who want cleaner fleeces to hand process? Are you marketing to handspinners who want to buy multiple fleeces to be milled into roving? That in itself is two very different marketing goals, and I say that as a buyer and a seller. Are you willing to pay more for a better shearer/shearers? Are you willing to pay more to have someone with knowledge skirt and/or pick your fleeces? Are you willing to buy and put in all the extra work to coat at least some of the best fleece sheep? All of the last three would increase the value of fleeces to a handspinner looking at a raw fleece.
Are you marketing milled rovings or yarns? Are you skirting and washing the fleeces or paying the mill to do that? Or are you paying to work for you to do that? Are you dyeing the rovings or yarns? Are you marketing the yarns to indie dyers as one of their yarn bases? Do you even know that indie dyers are a thing to be marketed to?
How much time and money are you willing to invest in making and marketing value? And are you adding in this to your costs to pay yourself or to pay someone to do it for you?

Travis Johnson wrote: Another underutilized resource I think is lanolin.
Not without boiling the wool. Making the wool unusable other than compost. The best I can stretch the idea is that you would have to process the wool into cloth wholly in the raw (shearing to fabric off the loom without having washed or wet the wool) and then using the fabric to carefully make a boiled wool felt to be made into coats. This of course would not happen at scale period because large scale wool processing has to have clean wool. This would have to be done strictly on cottage scale and would have quite a hefty price tag on the resulting fabric and/or coat.

I have several more points I would like to make about my own price points both for my sheep and my fiber/spinning/crafting but it needs more thought and I currently need more sleep. So I will leave this for now.
2 years ago
You have 1 ewe lamb and 1 ram lamb, correct? Why not just band/wether the ram lamb? You won't have to worry about him breeding and you don't have to worry about when/where/how he will go however things happen in the future.

That said. There is really no problem at all with that line breeding. Really it isn't much line breeding at all. Unless your sheep have a certain quality that is harmful or you want to get away from. The biggest thing to remember about line breeding is you have to know how to judge you animals and be ok that you may have to scrap animals (culling however you want/need to) that don't make the cut.
Line breeding doubles up on the genetics since the animals are related to whatever degree they may be. So if they have bad traits or traits you don't like/want they will be much more likely to show up. Either way you look at it you can keep the good animals and cull the bad.. Or you know what "the bad" is that can pop up and breed away from that when you bring in other animals.

If you left them to themselves they wouldn't care jack-crap about relations. They would breed. Weak animals would not make it. Stronger animals would make it.
When line breeding the only difference from this is your ability to cull toward your own goals and selective breeding within the line. But the weak have to be removed in order for the strong to continue and be worth anything.
you can buy copper bolus for dosing the goats and just feed everyone the same thing otherwise.
2 years ago
Cant wait to see more!
2 years ago