C&D Farming..oh what a life!

Bruce

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There is a HECK of a lot of work cleaning, carding, spinning wool. Ask @secuono, read her I'm woolin' it thread (that is a link) and you'll think a few times before you start that process in all of your spare time.

And $2 a fleece???? You better be REALLY good at shearing, they charge $35/animal up here to shear an alpaca. I suspect sheep would be cheaper but not much. If all you can get is $2, Chris is right, it isn't worth shearing them to sell the wool ... but I think they need to be sheared occasionally anyway.

You know the saying "You get what you pay for"? Don't buy the $100 sheep just because they cost less than the $150 sheep. And on the other hand, don't assume the $150 sheep are better quality than the $100 sheep. You need to check out the animals, the farm, why those particular animals are being sold and buy what fits your needs.

When you say your goats free range, that means no fencing, they can wander into town any time they want???
 

purplequeenvt

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@purplequeenvt ..as for the lambs...not sure of the breed yet, we were just looking, and I was going to ask all of you. Chris takes his truck seats that he rebuilds to get covered to the Amish..they said they only get $2 per sheep for the wool..so he doesn’t think the shearing is worth it. But I’ve read on here that it can be worth more...it just can also be a lot of work if you card it and ‘spin it’? I might have gotten that wording wrong..what I mean, is how you turn it into yarn? Anyways, I spoke to a guy about Hampshire lambs...they were $150. Chris said he saw some for $100...that was a great price for us, since we are just starting...but he couldn’t remember where he saw them or what kind..we searched..ugh! We don’t want registered, since they will cost more... we would mostly breed to sell..I hate to admit this, but because they bring a good price for the meat? Of course I would get attached and it would be hard, but I’m getting better at this whole deal..and realize that this is supposed to now be...well, more than just a hobby..since we are going biggg. Ok, so we are think about getting 3. I guess 1 needs to be a ram, huh...ugh. Is it like a buck goat, where I don’t bond with him, so he respects me? My goats are free range..is it possI left for sheep to be that way..or are they wanderers? I’ve read on here that they go really far...how much land would I need to fence off? Perhaps I need to start a new thread?...ok...will do...
You need to figure out what your goals are for your sheep. There are ton of different breeds out there that have their own sets of positives and negatives and every person you talk to will have their own opinion about what is best. I know that there are a lot of sheep people on here with hair sheep. Personally, I'm woolies all the way, but I'm also a spinner and knitter. Don't buy a sheep just because it's cheap, make sure that you are getting a decent animal. Lambs are going to be cheaper than adults, but with an adult, you've gotten past the fragile baby stage and you can actually see what you are getting for quality.

Hair sheep have the positive of not needing to be sheared or needing their tails docked if ease of care is super important to you. They are also advertised as "parasite resistant". Quite frankly, that is B.S. Sure, they may be more tolerant of a high parasite load than some breeds (BFLs and East Frisians come to mind), but most of the parasite tolerance comes from management.

Shearing doesn't need to be a huge hassle or expense. It can sometimes be hard to find a shearer that's willing to come shear a small backyard flock. You can totally shear your own sheep. When my family first got sheep, my sister and I sheared our 2 Romney ewes with scissors. We ended up with lots of blisters, but we got the job done. I do my own shearing now. I have fitting stand (a milking stand could work as well) so the sheep are sheared standing up and they are raised off the ground (way easier on the back). I have electric clippers, but you could use hand-shears instead.

I'd steer clear of the big meat breeds like Hampshires and Suffolks. They are big sheep, but their feed conversion isn't great. They require a lot of groceries (read: grain) to get to market size. This is because of their popularity in the show world. They've been bred to be taller and flashier to look good in the ring. Sometimes you can find ones that are more like the old type that are heavier framed and closer to the ground, but they are hard to find.

If you want a wool breed that grows a good size lamb quickly with minimal input, check out some of the long wool breeds. Border Leicester (my personal favorite) and Romney are 2 popular choices. Both breeds to well in a pasture-based system. Long wool fleeces are also very popular with fiber artists.

If you are getting purebred animals anyways, consider getting those registration papers. Having registered animals potentially opens up another market for you. You don't have to register the lambs unless they are being kept or sold as registered breeding stock.

You can do as much or as little with the wool as you want. You can throw it away, use it to mulch your garden, sell the raw fleece, or spend time and money getting it processed into roving (for spinners) or all the way into yarn. If you don't know anything about wool or fiber arts in general right now, you'd probably be best off learning how to skirt a fleece and then sell it raw to fiber artists. I haven't sold a raw fleece in ages (I hoard them all for myself), but we used to sell a well skirted Border Leicester fleece for $8-12/lb.

You are going to want at least 3. Personally, I'd start with 3 ewes. If you are buying lambs, don't bother getting a ram yet. It's usually best to wait until a ewe is over a year old before breeding for the 1st time so she's both physically and mentally more mature. You can get a ram (lamb or older) before breeding. If you don't want to keep a ram around full time, you could always buy a lamb after weaning, use him to breed your girls and then put him in your freezer.

I prefer to sell my extra ram lambs shortly after weaning to people wanting lambs to grow out themselves instead of growing them all out myself and then marketing to people who want a butchered lamb. Sure I could potentially make more selling them butchered, but then I have the added expense and risk of growing them out until the fall.

I do my best to keep my sheep contained at all times. Free-ranging anything (besides poultry) would put my anxiety over the edge. Too much risk of loss or injury. I'm sure there is a way to train them to stay near, but I don't have that kind of time or energy. My mom sent me a picture from VT today of their rams that had gotten out and ended up on the front porch.

I like woven wire fencing best because it creates a good barrier against escapees as well as predators. The fence at my new farm is 5 strand high tensile electric (only 3 of the wires #1,3, and 5 are hot). The trick to electric fence is to make sure it's always hot. They very quickly learn to go through a fence if it's off or under charged. I rotational graze my flock to better manage the pasture and parasite load. Back in VT we used step-posts and 3-4 strands of electric poly-wire to set up smaller grazing areas. I was given some used electric-netting before I moved to KY and that's what I'm using to move the sheep around my pastures.

There's a ton more that could be said, but I'm confusing myself as I stare at this screen so I'll leave it here for now.
 

SA Farm

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I’m pretty new to sheep myself, so I’ll leave your questions for the much more experienced sheep keepers around here. I’m going to be shearing for the first time this spring and am also starting to do some research on working with the wool. Not sure I’ll be able to do it, but I’d like to lol
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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@Bruce ...you are great!! I love when you read my posts because you always bring me back to reality...at times...and others, I just get a big belly laugh!! Yes, the carding, etc...I really don’t think I want to do that. I’ve read the I’m wool in thread..a lot...that’s how I even know what carding it means. And how she compared shipping charges and cleaning/washing/etc from state to state...and my mind was spinning... :lol: get it..spinning? I know, that was bad. But, I just am, curious about why the shearing only brings so little...a different that is true? You’re exactly right though, I do have not much time for getting into all that much inside work and have no desire too either. If I’m inside the house, I’d rather be making cheese, etc.

yes, the goats are free range during the day when I am out with them..I know that sounds hard to believe, but my property is kind of sectionEd off where they are by trees, a little spring where water trickles into the pond, the pond..then the pine trees...it makes a big square with the barn in the middle. I really have never had an issue with them going anywhere. I know a lot of people who have goats who free range. In fact the place we bought Sugar and Honey from, they were free range there. But a really small lot. They did poop on the neighbors porch!! But to be fair...they only had 1/2 acre to roam, so, the porch must’ve looked really good!! :lol: If I ever saw one of them, go anywhere...they’d be done. We lock them up at night, and if we leave for even a minute. We are fencing more of the yard this summer, but even then...I don’t think I’ll put the goats in there..they are just that good! We are no where near town..it’s all farms out here..,but I know exactly what you are getting at...it can be a risk...at this point...they have been well trained. I trained them by having one tethered and the other two were free. Apparently goats don’t leave each other. Chris did this wayyy back before me. I moved them all around where they were allowed...it seems it worked. I was worried that the new goats and kids would roam, but they all took cues from Busty and Stormy, as they are the bosses...

And, you are right about the price of the first lambs...but, we didn’t know what is fair for a generic one? The range is sooo wide around here...I realize some are pure and registered, but that is not the road we are headed...at this point. And, we may not even get sheep until next year....were in the talking and research phase.... Prices are down...we thought it might be a good time for us to buy? So, well see..I know we are growing...doing hay...raising pigs...the pumpkins by the acre and BOSS too....

@purplequeenvt ...thanks for all that info!! Geez, the Hampshire guy was the nicest! I definitely don’t need show quality sheep!! We mostly would sell...to be..(meat)...hate to say that. But, they sell high around here. I don’t know who eats them..we’ve never had lamb...my SIL is Italian..she loves it. I’ve seen the shearing hammocks...Chris could make one of those in a jif! Scissors...he’d love that idea! And for in the garden,.,he’d love that even more!! Plus, the fact that I wouldn’t have to keep a ram...music to my ears! I’ve heard/read horror stories. Not sure who’s post it was, but I saw their meatball fence almost broke in half!! Low to the ground would be good...wouldn’t knock me over...lol. So, this guy near us has a used electric fence charger..1.20 volt...few hundred bucks is what he said..plus he said a lot of t-post $3 if we pull..plus fence free. But he won’t tell me how much. He said he has 60’ already pulled and he wants...I forget, but Chris laughed because that’s about enough to fence a car.would that volt be good? Is ‘few hundred’ descent price? He wouldn’t get anymore specific so, I’m Leary.

going to go read some sheep threads!

oh, my goats and I took a leash walk..yes, I’m leash training the kids. Anyways, we were up by the trees. I didn’t notice...Theresa bunch of stick-tights...oh geez...almost all of them got into them!! They hardly noticed as I pulled them out though...much easier than getting them out of a dog, or off your socks!!:lol:
 

Bruce

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How long are these T-posts? A new 6' post at TSC is $4.19 so $3 is about a 25% discount .... IF they are in good shape. If you go that route, buy a T post puller. I have the TSC $43 version. Posts pull straight up and out in just a few seconds. Heck of a lot of work to pull them by hand. Bring a side by side or ATV with a trailer, those posts get heavy in a hurry.

"Few hundred bucks" for a charger isn't any deal. My 120V Cyclops Champ 5 joule output - rated for 40 acres/5 miles, is currently $275 on Amazon ($259 on the Cyclops site and with free shipping) and I've accidentally touched it 3 times. That was three times TOO MANY! The first time I hit it with my upper arm, still felt it 5 minutes later. Yes I DID say bad words each and every time ;) The Stallion (2.5 joules on the output side) is $189, presumably good for 25 acres/2.5 miles. Mine is serious overkill given at the moment it is only fencing a single acre but whatever touches it won't do so a second time, at least not on purpose.

And yes, 60' of wire isn't much. You can get a half mile of galvanized 14g at TSC for $50. If he wants to give you a quantity of wire, make sure it has been coiled and not all bent up and that it isn't all rusty. Straightening out old rusty wire tends to break it. Maybe even take it up yourself as you pull the posts. But first see what gauge it is, some is 17g and that is pretty thin and not as strong. And if, perhaps, the "wire" is poly, pass it up. The poly part degrades in sunlight. With that a penny saved is not a penny earned but a lot of work to put it up, then have to pay to replace it relatively soon plus the time to remove and replace it.

Lamb is tasty, you should get some sheep and send me lamb loin chops ;)
 

purplequeenvt

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I would take a look at the Hamps if you are interested in them! Talk to the guy and find out what he does with them. If he doesn't show them, they could be closer to the old style. Find out what he feeds/how much grain they get. If he feeds lots of grain, then you may want to pass.

Try to find out what breeds are available within a few hours of you. You don't want to have a major struggle locating a ram of the same breed (if you are going for purebred) when you need one.

If you are looking for specific breed suggestions, check out Border Leicesters. I have BLs and Shetlands (and some crossbreds) and I'd have a really hard time picking if I had to choose only one breed.

Border Leicesters are great sheep. They are a medium sized dual-purpose (meat and wool) breed. The lambs are quick to mature and don't usually require high inputs of grain (depends on who you buy from to some extent). They come in white and natural colored (varies from jet black to silver). Fiber people love their fleeces. They have clean faces and legs which makes them a lot easier to shear. The ewes are known for their mothering abilities and the rams for their gentlemanly dispositions. In the 20 years of raising this breed, I would agree with this. We've had a few aggressive rams, but most of them are basically big puppy dogs. We've even had several breeding rams that were bottle babies that were the sweetest things ever for their entire lives. My mom sent me a picture from VT today. The rams escaped their pen and showed up on the front porch.

They are personable sheep that look gorgeous out in the field with their bright, lustrous fleeces and their cheerful ears.

Because of their popularity, it shouldn't be hard to find decent BLs for a good price. There's 7 PA breeders listed on the Border Leicester Association website.

Also, Border Leicesters taste good. I actually prefer eating the older sheep - bigger chops, more flavor. If you shear the lambs a few months before butchering, they will have really nice pelts.

Shetlands are fun sheep that come in a variety of colors and patterns (and the lambs are the most adorable of all lambies). They are hardy and easy to care for, but they are a primitive breed and can be super flighty. I've spent a lot of time with mine so they are nice and friendly, but when something startles them, you can see the wild sheep come through in a second. They are also small, usually 100lbs or less and are slower to mature. Supposedly they taste delicious, but I haven't ever eaten mine.
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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Lots of great info again!! Thanks all of you!! @purplequeenvt ..is the one in your avatar a Shetland? @Bruce...I did think the guy sounded Chet he. He wouldn’t give me many details..not how old the fencing was, how long, etc. so, I’m not calling hi back. Also..you were kinda right about my free range goats. They Diego anywhere, but they have been eating our pine trees that Chris planted 20+ years ago to block the wind. Our land is wide open and flat on the top of a hill...very windy!! So, he’s been yelling at me about them and the trees, so, today I put them in the pen. Ugh. I hated to do it. But, what could I do? Happy hubby happy life!! I definitely heard Hampshire eat a lot. Desert cowboy said polypols are what he likes. I have to do some research. Plus, my min8 pig is about to explode!!! So, that will set me back a bit!! My rabbit sales are through the roof. Chris is taking them to the grocery store parking lot at a designated time for each person...staggered out. Even the tiny newbies are reserved. So, I rebred two today. I start my chick hatch tomorrow. I wanted to get it started sooner, so they’d be ready on Easter..a few days early...but, they will be 4 days late. Oh well. I’m sure they will sell. Not too worried about it. Picked up another store to buy my eggs..now I don’t have enough!! Because I have egg eaters. Tomorrow I’m going to talk to Chris about making me roll away nest boxes. We’ll see how that goes. .?? We’re extremely busy. It’s crazy busy here. Hard to keep up. People are bored and want to take a tour, or whatever....I’m only letting close friends come by. The ones who don5 go anywhere. Soon that will stop too. Two counties next to me have been locked down. Ok..night all
 

purplequeenvt

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Lots of great info again!! Thanks all of you!! @purplequeenvt ..is the one in your avatar a Shetland? @Bruce...I did think the guy sounded Chet he. He wouldn’t give me many details..not how old the fencing was, how long, etc. so, I’m not calling hi back. Also..you were kinda right about my free range goats. They Diego anywhere, but they have been eating our pine trees that Chris planted 20+ years ago to block the wind. Our land is wide open and flat on the top of a hill...very windy!! So, he’s been yelling at me about them and the trees, so, today I put them in the pen. Ugh. I hated to do it. But, what could I do? Happy hubby happy life!! I definitely heard Hampshire eat a lot. Desert cowboy said polypols are what he likes. I have to do some research. Plus, my min8 pig is about to explode!!! So, that will set me back a bit!! My rabbit sales are through the roof. Chris is taking them to the grocery store parking lot at a designated time for each person...staggered out. Even the tiny newbies are reserved. So, I rebred two today. I start my chick hatch tomorrow. I wanted to get it started sooner, so they’d be ready on Easter..a few days early...but, they will be 4 days late. Oh well. I’m sure they will sell. Not too worried about it. Picked up another store to buy my eggs..now I don’t have enough!! Because I have egg eaters. Tomorrow I’m going to talk to Chris about making me roll away nest boxes. We’ll see how that goes. .?? We’re extremely busy. It’s crazy busy here. Hard to keep up. People are bored and want to take a tour, or whatever....I’m only letting close friends come by. The ones who don5 go anywhere. Soon that will stop too. Two counties next to me have been locked down. Ok..night all
That is Valarie and she is 1/4 each of Border Leicester, Dorper, Friesian, and Shetland. She’s on the smaller side and is a bit homely, but she grows the most amazing lambs. She makes a lot of milk so they get fat fast. All of her daughters/granddaughters that we’ve ever kept and bred have inherited her milkiness and are superb mothers. I have her 1/2 Shropshire daughter and her 1/4 Southdown granddaughter in my flock as well.

Shetlands are great if you are wanting to use the wool and have pretty lawnmowers, but if you are planning to raise and sell for meat, pick a different breed. My ewes over the years average around 80lbs as an adult. My yearling ewe probably weighs only 60lbs right now. I can try to get some size comparison pictures between the BLs and Shetlands later today.
 
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