Anybody familiar w/sheep?

critterkeeperJuly 30, 2008

I'm adding a couple of lambs to my menagerie and was wondering if anybody out there has any words of wisdom for me. They are shear-free Dorpers and they tell me they are lots of fun. Ewes, of course. Apparently rams are a no-no, even if they are neutered. Also, a couple of Heritage turkeys are on hold for me. Any special tidbits I should know about?

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I dont know a thing about Dorpers. We bred Corriedale and Suffolk. Keep them wormed and tend their feet. Footrot can ruin a good flock.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 9:28PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

We do market lambs for 4-H. I would plan to wash them a couple times a year when it is warm. Orvus shampoo seems to work well on all animals, cleans nicely, but needs warm water to rinse well. We run the hose out from the house with warm water for bathing the sheep, horses, dogs. Orvus is an odd texture, gets liquid in warm wether, solid in cold. Doesn't need much to clean, so a large bottle lasts quite a while.

Get the lambs broke to lead with sheep halters, stand tied quietly not fighting the rope. Practice them hopping in and out of the truck or trailer you transport them with. You may want to haul them to be bred off-farm. Ours hop right into the trailer, go to shows, fair.

You want sheep to like you, come when called, give them some treats by hand. Can be a bit like being whacked with feather pillows if you have more than a couple! We want them tame, easy to catch, pen up for handling. They will run to stall if you have feed waiting each time. Even a handful in stall, trains them to come inside.

We keep bells on ours for locating them. A couple of the horses dislike being surprised, get jumpy. With the bells on, horses can locate moving sheep easily, are not surprised. I can tell by the rings if sheep are just grazing, playing or running scared. We do have some local dogs run loose now and again, so we must keep an eye out for them. Sheep die easily, lots of fun to chase, dogs don't know any better. I got a set of bell shaped, brass sleigh bells with very nice sounds. We just put one bell on each collar, so each lamb has it's own tone. They are kind of like pasture wind chimes, not obnoxious like the cheap copper bells at the feed store.

I feed straight grains, not the more expensive sheep feeds. Cracked corn, oats or barley are fine for sheep. No copper supplements, sheep don't tolerate copper. Sheep need their own mineral blocks, not horse mineral salt. READ THE LABELS! White salt blocks are OK for sheep. Our sheep need selenium additions since there is none in the soil around here, Michigan. So crops, hay, have no selenium in them. Ewes may need selenium shots when they are carrying lambs to prevent problems Lambs will need shots after delivery, to prevent white muscle disease and over-eating if you are creep feeding them for market selling.

Talk to your local Vet, see what is common for problems in your area. Learn how to give shots, check the sack after delivery of lamb to make sure it is all complete. Get some good books, read up. Your local Extension service will have pamphlets and information about keeping sheep, probably mostly free for the asking.

There are expensive ways to do things and less expensive ways to do things that are equally beneficial and save you money. You have to educate yourself, gain knowledge before you need it. Real easy to blow all your cash thru ignorance. Sheep are usually not difficult, even though the books list all the diseases and problems they can have FIRST. They are not bright but can be fun and entertaining.

If you decide to get into quantity, you may want to consider a donkey for protection of the flock. They usually will deal with canine intruders quite successfully. Have a market to sell the excess lambs. Perhaps a local ethnic population would love to have lamb available! A good market for locals here. One friend sells live lambs at the Farmer's market and buyer takes it home. Works well with her hair sheep, which are quite small, but sell fast there.

Have fun, tell us how it goes with your lambs.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 7:25PM
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I have from time to time considered keeping a sheep or two for milking since here, in Canada, sheep's milk and milk products don't fall under the dairy laws that govern cow and goat's milk and milk products.

In Canada cow and goat milk products cannot be sold unless you are a licensed dairy and then only to certain people/companies. I can't sell a pint of fresh milk from a cow to a neighbor, but Sheep's milk and cheese can be. Odd that...

Are sheep easy to milk?

Then there's the wool to sell, as well.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:17AM
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Thanks everyone, especially goodhors. Really great info. Seems like feet and worms are especially important. I get my sheep this fall. I'm sure to be back in touch then. A breeder is going to give me a few of his open ewes since I'm not into breeding, at least not now. I hear they can be addictive!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 12:16PM
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I have Dorper sheep and I love them ; -) I actually have Dorper/St. Coix crosses, but they are high% Dorper. Dorpers are as you probably know, a hair sheep. While they do have a little wool, its not of any real value, and they usually shed out in the summer. They are primarily a meat sheep (and they are quite tasty) I don't eat mine LOL but I have eaten some from a friend, and boy is it some good meat.
As a breed they are pretty hardy, and low maint. They seem to stay fat on air LOL I only feed mine when there isn't much grass to graze. If I do feed them, they get the same thing as my horses, a little grain, maybe some coastal hay, or a flake of alfalfa. They don't need much. Although they are pretty parasite hardy, you do need to worm them periodlically, sheep seem to be particularly sensiitve to a parasite load (much more so than my horses I;ve noticed) Dorpers are very friendly and easy going sheep, even the rams seem to be very sensible (at least the ones I've been around. I have 9 head, 8 ewes (that I hope are bred) and a wether. I use my sheep for training for my dogs. I have Border Collies and we compete in sheepdog trials. We're in Texas, so the hair sheep work really well with the intense heat and drought conditions that we have (Dorpers are native to South Africa)

Here is my lamb that was born around the first of May, she was HUGE and I think very pretty, typical Dorper, black head, white body.

Another ewe, she's a cutie too

My Liz, with mom and new baby

My Stella, with what we call a 'dog broke' wether. His name is Curly ; -) and he's trained a lot of sheepdogs LOL

Good luck with your new sheep! I'm sure you'll love them ; -) now you just need a dog LOL, then you'll be in BIG trouble, talk about addictive! WHoa!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 6:32PM
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Thanks so much, boopster! I love the pix and am excited now to get my dorpers. I already have my dogs, two great pyrenees who keep a watchful eye on my goats. pigs, chickens and geese not to mention my grandkids. I recently acquired two tiny pygmy babies and the dogs are great babysitters. When ever they cry the dogs are right there by them! The dorpers will be lambs that are due in September. I'm getting a pair of them. Will they be difficult to raise?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:55AM
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They are not hard to raise at all, but I imagine you won't be getting them till they are about 3 months old or so? Two will be fine, but I think 3 would be better (JMHO) are you getting ewe lambs or ram lambs? If they're rams, make sure whoevever you get them from wethers or bands them for you, before you get them. You don't want to be banding an older lamb, you want to make sure that is done fairly early on. If you're getting ewe lambs, then no problem. I think you'll really enjoy them ; -) make sure you take pics when you get them.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 11:23AM
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I am getting two but why do you suggest three? They will be ewes and the breeder said they would be at least a couple of months old and made sure I have a barn and stall for them to be out of any bad weather. Is that too young? He seems like a reputable breeder and knows I want them for pets.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 11:10PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

What if your two take a disliking to each other?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 1:26PM
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I just suggested 3 because sheep are a flocking animal, and I think they would probably be more comfortable as a 'flock' with 3. 2 months might be a bit early to wean, I think I usually go with 3 months, but I imagine they'll be ok. Just be sure that they have a "very secure" place to stay. As in, no dogs or other predators can get to them. Loose dogs are the worst ; -( a friend had 3 nice little wethers slaughtered by stray dogs that got into her pen, it was horrible I can tell you. If you're just going to keep them as pets, you might see if the breeder would throw in a little wether as well. Then you'd get to see the difference in the sexes. I have one wether, and he is a character ; -)


    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Thanks, Betty. I will ask about a third one. I have two Great Pyrenees that are the best livestock guards I have ever had. i have had dogs , lots of rescues, but although they never killed my livestock, they never protected them. I haven't lost a single critter to a predator since Belle and Tucker came to live with me on the farm. They were 2 months old when I got them from a farm that had all sorts of animals, pigs, ducks, llamas, goats, horses, etc. My little pygmy kids sleep w/them. I can't imagine the lambs will be any smaller than these little kids. They were only about 8 lbs. when I got them!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 8:03PM
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i love sheep!!!! :)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 2:12PM
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I want to keep a minature sheep, goat, potbellied pig, minature donkey, minature cow, pony, and minature horse.

How much stall space would be needed for each. Which can graze in small pens togethr. We will have lots of little kids around.

Am thinking about electrified plastic fence for night to keep out the critters. Turn off the electricity when kids are around.

We have about 8 acres of pasture with plastic farm fences, but expect to have the animals in small pens or stalls in small barn when kids are around.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

OK, I know it sounds crazy, but we have lots of grandchildren. Have had horses, and am a little acquainted with goats, but the others will be new.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 1:09PM
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