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A NEW DIRECTION FOR THE OLD RAM

Discussion in 'Everything Else Sheep' started by The Old Ram-Australia, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Aug 18, 2017
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia Loving the herd life

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    G'day to you all.After almost 20 years breeding our line of Suffolk’s we will over the next 12 months sell almost all of the flock and transition to a composite Hair flock. Starting from “scratch “by purchasing small lines of ewes and suitable rams along with some genes of our Suffolk’s we will begin to breed up a suitable type of slaughter lamb which has the ease of production (i.e. no shearing or crutching)but with the eating qualities of the English Shortwools.

    I guess some of you are Hair Sheep Breeders, have you found any adverse comment about the “denseness “of the meat or a taste they dislike? Down here the supermarkets present the two types quite differently, but perhaps you all have taken the trouble to target them properly?

    I have observed some “consumer pushback” to the eating qualities of the Hair or Tribal breeds and the prices at the saleyards “reflect this”, but if we apply the production methods we use with the Suffolk’s the lower prices we receive for breeding females and production rams will be off- set by the reduced workload and we will be able to continue to farm sheep for a number of years into the future.( I'm now 75)

    Buying in the sale yard is a “risky” business” as in the main the stock has some sort of “fault” but with careful breeding these initial problems will be overcome, buying in the private market results in mainly small lines (maybe even just one or two ewes at an exorbitant price)for which you have to travel for hours to look at. Our regional sale is a 200 km round trip but there are times when you will be able to purchase some very good lines as an average sale is over 6000 head on a weekly basis(small I know by the numbers some sales attract), you just have to turn up each week and because we wish to start with about 100 ewes with as big a genetic pool as possible it seems the way to go.

    The introduction of the Australian White is such a breed, but the path they took seems to be a “well kept secret”, although I did miss out on a “run” of their young ewes recently because I did not “have my wits about me” and realized too late what they were.

    So this week we purchased our first ewes, they were within budget and all looked to be “in-lamb” (14 in all). They are a mixed lot of BH and White Headed Dorpers; some are pretty “scruffy” and need to be cleaned up. I don’t think the traditional method of sheep shearing is the way to go as on the first side you are shearing against the way the hair lays, so I think I will try a shear down method like the way you finish on the second side in normal shearing. If you clear around the tail and up to the “pin”, then start at the “poll” and go down the neck across the shoulder and finish the “first side” turn the sheep over and do the second side as normal will result in a “cleaner “ looking job.

    I would be interested in any of “your” experiences in this type of breeding; I will resist the use of Poll Dorset’s but may try a Texel, Wiltipoll, White Suffolk or even a Border Leicester, but I fear it may put too much “leg” under the lambs.....T.O.R. 002a.jpg
     
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  2. Aug 18, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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    Well, lamb isn't a common food in the US, you can find it at the grocery store but they usually don't have a large selection and it's $6 or so a lb. here - mostly the tags say imported from New Zealand. I'm not sure if there's a difference in taste between breeds, as I've only ever had what the grocery store has and who knows what breed it was. They usually only have lamb chops, though I've rarely seen a lamb shank.

    I know that isn't very helpful. I don't know that there are a lot of Aussies on BYH, so your market may be related to US consumers. I think I'd ask a butcher if there is a difference in taste/texture with a hair sheep breed. They'd know pretty well.
     
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  3. Aug 18, 2017
    Pastor Dave

    Pastor Dave True BYH Addict

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    In the States folks are willing to pay more for home-grown vs. super market. They pay more for free-range, steroid-free, antibiotic-free, organic, Non-GMO, etc.
    It's all on the advertising as you well know. That's how I would present yours. Also quality invites repeat customers.

    I agree with @AClark Mostly chops in stores until Spring time, then see shanks in stores for Passover.
     
  4. Aug 18, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    I have a very small flock of mixed hair sheep. I have eaten bought lamb, which I am pretty sure was from a wool breed and found it to be gamy and strong tasting. Not bad, but not great. My own lamb does not have that strong taste, it is delicious. JMO

    This is a huge move for you. I admire the resiliency in you and your wife in making this switch. My husband is 72, I am 62 and didn't want to get into wool sheep because of all the extra work involved in shearing.

    I was all about Dorpers, but after having my mixed hair sheep, with a Dorper ram, have changed my mind to Katahdins. The Katahdin registry also permits "grading up" as long as the resulting lambs are recorded. After several generations, the recorded lambs can be registered. I also like that the tails are not docked, which can be a hot topic for many. This might be silly, but I also like the different colors instead of the same boring white or white with a black head. I have a small flock, not 300 breeding ewes, so I can be more flexible on what I want.

    I direct market our lambs to customers. I sell lamb for $8 a pound, hanging weight. Next month we'll take 3 wethers to slaughter that were sold when they were born, on a waiting list. People in our area are very supportive of small farms, they want quality, good, healthy food. I don't know about distance for you, but we are close enough to our market area that people can come visit the farm, if they choose to.

    Another thing I like about the Katahdins, is that they shed off better then the Dorpers that I have seen. I know there are lines of Dorpers that shed off well, but have not seen any near me. I am now looking to upgrade my starter flock, starting with a registered Katahdin, DNA tested RR ram. I will add registered Katahdin ewes as availability and money allow.

    From what you have posted, it seems that hair sheep and hair sheep lamb bring a lower price?

    This is all from a VERY new sheep owner, so take what you want from it. I am not a fly speck on the wall from experience next to you and your years of experience.
     
    Bayleaf Meadows likes this.
  5. Aug 18, 2017
    Bossroo

    Bossroo True BYH Addict

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    Traditionally at University Taste Test Competitions in the US , the normal size Southdown ranked at the top then closely followed by Suffolk, Hampshire, and Dorset. Hampshire has lost favor due to wide shoulders on lambs causing difficulty at birth. Then, when the wool market crashed, most commercial breeders quit their business or whent broke. Today, the Dorper meat ranks right up there with the Southdown, Suffolk, and Dorset in sanctioned Taste Test Competitions. There is a Katahdin breeder just 5 miles down the road from us with over 100 ewes. Two years ago, they bought a Dorper ram and compared their Katahdin lambs to the Dorper Xs. They found that the X bred lambs weaned at a higher weight and brought more $$s at the stock auction. They then baught another Dorper ram. The other hair sheep breed lambs just do not wean anywhere near the Dorper' lambs, so their cost of production does not pencil out financially. In my experience, the more lanolin the sheep breed produces, the stronger the taste of their meat. Hair sheep meat has a milder taste.
     
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  6. Aug 18, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Congratulations and my wish for success in your new endeavor! I must say I was rather amazed that you were still out there shearing a huge herd of sheep at 70+ years old. Seems like a lot of work during the time of life when you should be (most want to be) relaxing. More power to ya!
     
  7. Aug 18, 2017
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia Loving the herd life

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    G’day and thanks for your comments ,as I recall in the 50’s the butchers and the then emerging supermarkets got together and convinced the govt that the private sale of meat should be banned unless it met all of the conditions they had to conform to ,there is still an” underground “market for farm killed meat as the opportunities to get animals slaughtered is small because over the years the big processers have purchased and closed the small operators’, occasionally see at farmers markets selling their own grown lamb mainly Dorper lamb but it never seems to be that popular.

    I dislike the Dorset’s as sires because they tend to be quite “square fronted”, it took years for us to “breed out” the width in the Suffolk’s and replace them with our “smooth shoulders” for ease of lambing because we lamb in paddocks in the open with just tussocks and timber up-wind as shelter. The crossing of two breeds produces the F1 effect which in the first instance out-performs generally speaking both of the pure bred parents but in subsequent crosses the lambs favor one parent or the other. The traditional lamb in Aussie is a series of crosses of Merino and
    British Shortwools and I think we consume over 10 million of them annually. The other reason why processors prefer them is the “skin value” and the return from “dead wool” on which they pay”no wool tax”.

    Some of you may wonder why we have chosen this “new “path, last Dec after 18 months of trying by me and her doctor she finally agreed to be tested and the tests came back positive for Alzheimer’s .To date most of the impact has been on her mental abilities and memory although she does “tire” a little more easily now when we are out on the farm .Luckily I had had only one episode when she went out of the front gate and turned the wrong way and walked 9 kms before she realized she was in trouble, meanwhile I was in a “panic’ it had got dark and the police would not let me leave the house while they organized people and a specially fitted helicopter to begin the search. But then a chap rang me and said that a lady had “landed” on his doorstep not knowing just where she was and gave him our phone number. She now understands that she must not go out our front gate near the house (which is 2 kms from the road.)When we first started discussing the change she was quite “excited” at the prospect which is beneficial to her condition and the fact she is now looking forward to going to the sale each week is also another benefit as socially she was “withdrawing’’ and still resents people coming onto the farm ....T.O.R.
     
  8. Aug 18, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    We don't slaughter the lambs ourselves, we take them to be processed. We recently processed a hog for ourselves and helped two neighbors with theirs, but wouldn't offer farm slaughtered meat to customers.

    I am so sorry to learn of your wife's test results. Prayers for you and her. Having the hair sheep over the wool sheep will take a little less work and time, time that you can devote to your wife.
     
  9. Aug 18, 2017
    Hens and Roos

    Hens and Roos Herd Master

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    Prayers for you and your wife.
     
  10. Aug 18, 2017
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Herd Master

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    I know this will be a tough road for you and her. Keeping her engaged and socially active may certainly help her. Sending prayers for both of you.