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anyone have Soay sheep?

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Sheep' started by cbobgo, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. Jun 26, 2013
    cbobgo

    cbobgo Exploring the pasture

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    I may have the chance to get some Soay sheep. These would be my first sheep, currently we have chickens and ducks. From what I have been reading, Soay are a little more "low maintenance" than other sheep or goats.

    Does anyone here have experience with them? Do you think they would be OK for a newbie?

    - bob
     
  2. Jun 27, 2013
    SheepGirl

    SheepGirl Master of Sheep Golden Herd Member

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    A member on here, Ruus, has Soay sheep.

    IMO though I think all sheep are relatively the same. Depends on how the producer you bought them from raised them...whether they were coddled or left alone. Sheep that are left to their own devices are hardier, sheep that are coddled are more fragile. However, crossbred sheep do tend to be hardier than purebred sheep due to hybrid vigor.
     
  3. Jun 27, 2013
    Ruus

    Ruus Ridin' The Range

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    I have Soay sheep! :) They're easier for me and my bad back to handle than other sheep due to their size, plus they're adorable! :love My sheep are very easy care, but I really couldn't tell you if they're easier than other breeds, since I've never owned any other sheep. They're definitely easier on the feed bills, since they don't really need grain at all except for treats, and I can easily run twice as many animals per acre as other sheep producers in the area.


    Like SheepGirl says, how they were handled makes all the difference, especially in how shy/friendly they are. Be sure to find out how regularly they were handled. From a genetic standpoint, since Soay sheep are descended from sheep that have run feral for centuries, they are bred to be able to lamb without assistance. I only know of one farmer who says she's had to assist a Soay ewe, and that was with triplets where one was very large. One thing you do have to be careful of with Soay, especially British Soay, is that they are much more copper sensitive than other sheep, so be very careful with mineral supplements.


    Other than that, they're delightful little sheep, and a pleasure to have around. If you want sheep and there are Soay available, I'd go for it! :D Are they British or North American Slay? Both are good, just curious.
     
  4. Jun 27, 2013
    Bossroo

    Bossroo True BYH Addict

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    I have raised hundreds of head and about a dozen different breeds of sheep. The Soay are nice to look at , have horns, are a small size as they resemble a primitive sheep. These sheep are hardy, fend for themselves as they were feral in the windswept hills of Britton. I have visited 3 ( in Oregon and Washington) different Soay flocks. From what I have observed, they are by far the most flighty / wild sheep ... more so than the Marino or Cheviot so they will need good handling facilities. They are a small sheep and have little meat on their carcass ( less productive per acre ,like a 1/3 edible meat of a typical crossbred lamb ), so there is very little room for profit. They need secure fenced pastures or they will exit stage left. They are also an easy target for dogs, coyotes, bobcats, etc.. Some tout that they don't need to be fed grain, and are easy lambers, etc.. The truth is most sheep have the same attributes. I don't think that they would be an economicaly viable choice for a backyard operation, much less a commercial one in the US. Unless one just wants to look at ( preserve) a small wild looking type sheep that will clean up vegetation in one's upper 40. :hu
     
  5. Jun 27, 2013
    Ruus

    Ruus Ridin' The Range

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    Bossroo may be right if you're wanting to sell slaughter lambs. Mine are lawnmowers/pets/meat for personal use, so I'm not trying to make tons of money on them. Honestly though if you're wanting to make a large profit off your backyard, sheep probably aren't the right species anyway.

    I've heard people say that feral breeds like Soay and Barbados are more wild and flighty than other sheep, but really it's all in how they're raised. Because feral breeds are so hardy, they're more likely to be dumped in a field and left to their own devices, which of course makes them more wild. Mine are fairly tame after sitting out there with a bucket of grain a couple hours a day for a few days, and I have no trouble moving or handling them on a daily basis.
     
  6. Jun 27, 2013
    cbobgo

    cbobgo Exploring the pasture

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    Thanks everyone for the input. We are a very small "hobby farm" so I'm not really,looking at the sheep as a money maker. Though if they get rid of all the poison oak on the property they will be worth it!

    - bob
     
  7. Jun 27, 2013
    Ruus

    Ruus Ridin' The Range

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    They stripped all my fences of poison oak as high as they could reach in a matter of days. :) They'll also "prune" your trees of leaves and thin branches as high as they can, so watch out if you have any trees you don't want chewed.
     
  8. Oct 31, 2018
    Steve Quintavalli

    Steve Quintavalli Chillin' with the herd

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    I did a search to find this post as I stumbled across the breed a few days ago. I must say, they are making me rethink my plan for American Blackbelly sheep. I initially wanted American Blackbellies for their look and hardiness and have them with Oberhasli goats, because they have a unique brown color with black markings. I wasn't sure about the Oberhaslis' parasite resistance so I started to look for another match up of sheep and goats...that's how I found Soay sheep and am now looking at pairing them with pygmy goats as they should be around the same size. For me, as a future hobby farmer, I just want the looks, not too concerned with making money off them. We will be moving to northern Idaho and I do know there are some breeders in WA and OR as previously mentioned, which is great! I think they are listed as an endangered as well. Anyway, I hope Soay sheep get a long well with Pygmy goats...seems like they will be competing for some food when foraging. I only plan to have a total of 3 from each species so it will be a small flock.