Central Virginia Newbie. Planning for turkeys, pigs, and sheep.

Bicoastal

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@farmerjan I'll see if poults are available in June. I don't want to worry about them making weight. I can always butcher sooner, but not later when I'm counting on that being my Thanksgiving dinner!

My thinking is coop at night, attached run during the work day, and gradually test out free ranging.

@Baymule my interest is working sheepdogs. Most sheepdoggers in this region have hair sheep. Katahdin/Dorper/mixy mixed farm flocks. There just isn't the money in wool and it's harder and harder to find shearers for small flocks. I'm super curious to hear @secuono's experience.

@secuono hi neighbor! :frowWe are really close. Fingers and toes crossed we may enjoy the Montpelier Fiber Festival this year and actually meet each other! You officially have the world's cutest sheep!! How long have you had Babydolls? Do you have many pet sales? Maybe Babydolls will be the next KuneKune: the must-have for homesteaders.

Do you shear yourself? How are fiber sales? I've heard crazy stories of people tilling wool into their gardens as fertilizer, there's that little money in selling. 😢One friend has had a little more luck participating in the Shave 'Em to Save 'Em initiative.

I helped with shearing once. I learned the hard way how slippery they get with all that lanolin and nothing to grab onto anymore! I watched the shearer hang from the barn rafters on breaks to stretch his back. There's not many willing to do that hard labor for the money these days. You couldn't pay me enough.
 

Baymule

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Precisely why I have hair sheep. I joined here 5 years before getting sheep, while we still lived in the middle of a small town. That gave me plenty of time to study goats versus sheep, choose sheep, then study wool versus hair. We retired and moved to 8 acres. I love and adore my hair sheep. We have a registered Katahdin ram with Katahdin/Dorper mixed ewes. This year, I'll be selling half the ewes and practically all the lamb crop. I'll take that money to buy registered ewes, as many as I can before the money runs out. LOL
 

secuono

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@secuono's experience.

@secuono hi neighbor! :frowWe are really close. Fingers and toes crossed we may enjoy the Montpelier Fiber Festival this year and actually meet each other! You officially have the world's cutest sheep!! How long have you had Babydolls? Do you have many pet sales? Maybe Babydolls will be the next KuneKune: the must-have for homesteaders.

Do you shear yourself? How are fiber sales? I've heard crazy stories of people tilling wool into their gardens as fertilizer, there's that little money in selling. 😢One friend has had a little more luck participating in the Shave 'Em to Save 'Em initiative.

I helped with shearing once. I learned the hard way how slippery they get with all that lanolin and nothing to grab onto anymore! I watched the shearer hang from the barn rafters on breaks to stretch his back. There's not many willing to do that hard labor for the money these days. You couldn't pay me enough.

I hire out for shearing. I can hand shear some breeds, but Babydoll is too dense & difficult to get the shears into it. It's back breaking work, I much rather pay someone else to do it with electric shears. I have weak wrists & back, so I can't deal with the heavy, vibrating machine. Tried it years ago, would of gone much better with a different breed whose wool is easier to get into.

There's only 4 options-
Emily Chamelin Hickman in MD, a pro at a reasonable rate. Her husband also shears. I'll have to save $ to specifically request her instead next year. He's not as good and there were more second cuts than acceptable to me. Second cuts make short wool worthless.
Very expensive shearer from NC.
Do it yourself.
Or desperately search for any random joe to do it & hope they don't screw up or kill your sheep. I haven't lost any sheep to shearing, but its still a worry/possibility.

I did find a very nice team one year, but the following year, only one showed up and didn't do a great job.

If you put in the work of carefully bagging, skirting, measuring & taking pictures, along with coating the sheep, then you can sell it. But I'm in a rut, so I've given it up for this year. I only seek to break even/pay for the shearing with wool sales. Most will be mulch this year.

I got them in 2011 for eating up the grass, but it quickly changed into my main hobby.

Most sell as breeders or pets.
I don't really want them to get too popular for meat or pet, because then there's more people who want cheap, not registered and breeders will start to lower prices or sell lesser quality to meet the demands. Worse is that few breeders think of them as sheep, so they don't breed for the best nor do they cull poor quality.

Babydoll does not qualify for Shave 'Em to Save 'Em. If they had not changed the name, to differentiate them from the giant American Southdown, then they'd qualify. Silly reasoning, but w/e.
Some people still push that they qualify or lie about the fiber during sales just to sell. People also push wool quality that isn't true. Most aren't like what the registries claim and many are more coarse, too. Better nutrition helps some of the coarse sheep.

Emily will shear small flocks.
Not this year, because of covid-19, but other years, you can join other local small flocks on one property to have them sheared semi together. That is, if you can find others to join in on that.
 

Crealcritter

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@Crealcritter , I'm ordering broad breasted white turkeys from Valley of the Moon. Minimum order is 20 poults, anticipated end of July. Is that enough time to get up to processing weight for Thanksgiving?

What sort of gender split do I want? Valley of the Moon is a rare hatchery that does sex poults! I'm thinking 5 toms and 15 hens but I have no real reason for that breakdown except fewer buyers want giant birds. Seems like the most popular size is under 18 lbs.
I grew both broadbreasted whites and bronze. They are just like a CCX in my mind, nothing but big couch potatoes that are always starving. I didn't really care for taste of either to be honest.

My opinion only... With the sales they have before and after Thanksgiving, might as well just go and buy a frozen butterball from the store. Because BBB & BBW taste the same as Butterball to me.
 

farmerjan

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The BBW that I got, did real good on pasture and they really grew. I sold several and the people all said they tasted much better than store bought. To me, turkey is turkey.... I don't have that "discriminating " of taste buds I guess. But mine were active, yes they ate alot, but mine liked being out and ran the pasture where the cows were. I had trouble getting them to come into the barn. Only problem I had was I had alot of cocidiosis in the calves for 2-3 years after when I put the calves into the same pen/stall that the turkeys used. May be just a coincidence.... but never had it before I had the turkeys there.
 

Bicoastal

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My opinion only... With the sales they have before and after Thanksgiving, might as well just go and buy a frozen butterball from the store. Because BBB & BBW taste the same as Butterball to me.
Go to the grocery store? No!:th😅

I hear you. It would absolutely be cheaper for me to buy the amount of meat I eat at a store. Raising my own meat animals will definitely be more expensive. My goal is to decrease my environmental impact and be more responsible for the meat I consume than buying the cheapest package of ground beef or turkey I can find at Walmart, now that I am in a position to do so.
 

Alaskan

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What kind of geese do you have?
I don't have them any more... spouse hated them...

Since we free ranged them... well... they loved to sit on the house walkway every afternoon and poo all over it.

I have been asking to have some again... if I fence them off the front walk... still no go...

I bought the goslings in the spring, and we butchered them all in the fall. I am pretty sure that they were Pilgrims.
 

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