How We Chose Our Sheep
As many of you may have noticed on our Facebook page and our Instagram page, it’s lambing season right now. We have four beautiful Katahdin lambs on the ground. As a result, I’ve been thinking about the journey we’ve had getting into sheep and the importance of choosing your breeds of livestock carefully. We learned over time what breeds really work for us.
My family loves to work with wool. So, years ago, we did some research and decided that maybe we wanted shetland sheep because of the quality of the wool. That wool was incredibly soft to the touch. The sheep on the other hand? Those were wild. I’m talking 70+ pound bullet coming at your chest, level of wild.
We started our journey with 3 ewes. After a while we decided we were going to try to tame our flock down by crossing in the more docile Merino sheep that have nice wool, though not as soft as Shetland wool. So we brought home a ram. Here’s where research that involves talking with people who have more experience really comes in.
You never want to cross any male that has a high birth weight to a small female. Crossing the male Merino ram on our little Shetland ewes, gave every one of them birthing problems. Their babies were born huge. If we had known better, we would have known that to do this cross successfully without complications, we needed to cross a Shetland ram on Merino ewes. But we didn’t know better.
As time went on, I noticed that we were literally wool gathering. Three ewes were giving us more wool than we could possibly manage to process with working full time both on and off the homestead. So, we made the decision to sell the wool sheep.
Later on, as many of you might remember, we had a little hair lamb brought home by Commando. This was the start of our current love affair with hair sheep. Bucky is a Katahdin ram who is the sire of the lambs that we had born this year. He was also the sire of Buiscuit from last year. Katahdin sheep have proven to be a fantastic match for our farm because they don’t require shearing and they produce quite a bit of meat. They lamb twice a year. This can create a little extra income when you have more lambs being born than you can use.
All of this said, if we had started with a smaller quantity of sheep, or had started with a couple a castrated males, I think we would have gotten a feel for how many wool sheep we could use.
Even the most experienced homesteader should continue to learn on their homesteading journey. I would strongly recommend that people who want to get into livestock really do their research, talk to breeders, and start with a small number that can then be built up.
Until next time,
Homestead In Health Ya’ll!