Monday, May 23, 2011

Sheep

Now that we are settled into the farm we are ready bring on the sheep! We are picking up our sheep on Thursday. Now for a little bit about our sheep and our plans for them

We are getting three ewes that are already experienced mothers and have been handled frequently and so are easy to manage. They are from Rare Find Farm near Raleigh, NC. They are registered as #S25401 (Endive-4yr), #S24904 (Elizabeth- 4yr), #s27527 (Fannie Mae-3yr). They have all had lambs but only Endive and Elizabeth have sons (1 each) registered.

We are raising Shetland sheep, a heritage breed characterized by its small size, hardiness, friendly nature and fine fleece. Ewes are usually between 75 and 100lb with 2-4lb of fleece per shearing. Shetlands are listed as a "recovering" breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Our sheep will be primarily pasture fed, eating the grass that is growing in the pasture and not needing any grain or hay during the summer. Our Ewes will be given grain during gestation and after lambing, though, to keep them healthy while they are making and feeding babies. Sheep don't require much housing but they will have access to shelter in the barn whenever they want to get out of the weather or the sun. There is also shade from trees growing in and around the pasture.

Our flock will primarily be a breeding flock. In other words, our goal is to create lambs that can go on to be used for breeding-- not eaten or wethered. Some of our sheep will still probably be used for meat, particularly if we get a lot of rams or have animals that aren't worth breeding, but the goal will be to grow our flock of breeding ewes and also to sell breeding ewes and rams to other farms. For now we will be leasing the use of a Shetland ram from a nearby farm, hopefully. That's something that we need to arrange soon! If we want to have lambs in April we'll need to breed in November.

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