Dairy Sheep for Two

Beccatrix

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Hello!

We are considering a pair or trio of ewes for dairy sheep for two people (with the potential to add a ram later). We are in WI, so winters are always a consideration. Meat would be secondary, and wool isn't a necessity due to arthritis.

We are thinking Finnsheep or Katahdin. I love landrace animals for their hardiness. Obviously a hair breed could be a good option. We're thinking of heavily utilizing agroforestry, as much of our acreage is wooded. We'd like a longer milking season, but don't need a ton of volume.

We both work full time outside of homesteading.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Mini Horses

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Breed ewes to lamb at different times, not all at once. Spread the milking season, less to milk every day. Most times you'd have only one a day to milk -- maybe two for a short time. Make cheese with the extra milk during those times. 😊👍
 

Beccatrix

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Thanks! I'm curious of people run into a lot of bottle feeding with Finns, and am wondering how hardy they are with disease and parasites?
 

Baymule

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I have Katahdins, the miracle sheep. LOL @purplequeenvt LOL I admire you so much for all the things you do with your wool sheep. You do it all, shear, spin the wool and create beautiful garments, true works of art. I think you are amazing.

I don’t milk my sheep, but maybe I should. So I can’t help you there.

Yes Katahdins are parasitic resistant for the most part, but not all are and young sheep may need time to mature and develop that resistance. Do not rely on the FAMCHA method of checking eye membranes for color, it will fool you. I’ve had sheep with bright pink membranes color, loaded with parasites. Take a fecal sample to the vet for analysis to get a true picture of the health of your animal. And that’s for any sheep, don’t just worm on a schedule and don’t withhold treatment.

Best way is to restrain the sheep, with a gloved hand, insert two fingers into the rectum and draw out a fecal sample, 6-8 berries. Turn glove inside out, write name on it and take to vet. If you can’t immediately take it, put in ziplock bag and keep in refrigerator, but it will degrade. Overnight would be ok. Picking berries off the ground isn’t optimal as the sample can become contaminated, but it’s better than nothing. Just make sure you see which sheep just pooped, picking off a pile is better than scattered poop.

Stress can bring on the parasites. Lambing and weaning may see a spike in worms, so be aware of that.

Whichever breed you choose, welcome to the world of sheep! Ask any questions you may have, we will help you any way we can.
 

farmerjan

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I have not personally had Finn sheep but there is a lady near here that has had them for years and years. They are known for having "litters" rather than just "multiples.." That is why so many will have to bottle raise their lambs. 3 is normal, 4 and 5 are very common.... Yes, they seem to milk very good... but they still only have 2 teats that I am aware of... so a little hard to get the lambs started and to make sure they get a "fair amount" for the first few days...
Don't forget you have to have a ram to get babies to get milk in order to be able to milk them in the first place....
 
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