Easiest Sheep Breeds to Raise

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Do you want to raise sheep but don't know where to begin? Since there are so many breeds to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed. All kinds of sizes, colors, and shapes are available, so it can be hard to choose just one.

The following article discusses some of the easiest sheep breeds for beginners to raise. Most of these sheep will be easy to raise and more friendly to people.

How Easy Is It to Raise Sheep?​

Sheep have been raised for meat, milk, and wool for thousands of years. This is due to several factors. Compared to other farm animals like horses, pigs, and cows, sheep are relatively small and easy to handle.

Sheep are usually friendly toward people and can be trained. You can train them to follow you, stand when you order them, and even come to you when you call them. Rams, on the other hand, can sometimes be aggressive, but not in a way that would make them difficult to handle.

Sheep don't require a lot of room to roam. For them to live, one acre is enough space, but if you are able to give them more than that, it would be great. Three to five ewes and a few lambs can live on an acre.

Sheep are thus an easy choice for beginners and for families who wish to experience this with their children. Sheep are popular among 4-H members looking to show them in competitions.

Which Sheep is the Easiest to Keep?​

Food, water, and housing are aspects of keeping sheep that will never change regardless of the breed. Additionally, there are a few other things to consider depending on the breed.

Shearing is the first step. A hair sheep is the easiest to start with if you are a beginner. As opposed to wool sheep, this type of sheep does not require shearing. This means you won't have to worry about buying special equipment or dealing with skin issues and heat stress.

Next, we will consider friendliness. Sheep tend not to be too afraid of people, though some breeds are friendlier than others. If you don't remember this, you will have a hard time earning their trust.

Mothering ability is another factor to consider. Choosing a sheep with a good mothering ability will be important if you are specifically breeding sheep. Though raising a bottle baby sheep might seem fun, feeding them every two hours will get very old, very fast.

Here are a few of the best sheep breeds for beginners.

Suffolk Sheep​

If you are interested in producing meat as well as wool, the Suffolk sheep breed is very popular. They are crossbred from several meaty sheep breeds that predate the 19th century. As a result, they developed traits from both parents that maximized meat production.

You are probably familiar with these sheep because they are easily recognizable. These sheep have black faces and woolly backs, as well as long legs that are black. A mature ewe can weigh as much as 250 pounds, making them a larger breed.

Large, hardy, and prolific, they make great mothers. When farmers want to raise meat sheep, they are one of their first choices. They are also very popular with kids and adults for competitions.

No matter whether they'll be used for commercial production or on a small homestead, they are a great addition for a beginner sheep owner.

Shearing is necessary for these sheep because they have medium wool. Even so, the extra work with shearing is compensated by their hardiness, size, and mothering ability.

Polypay Sheep​

It is a hybrid breed and not a breed in itself. Basically, it is a cross of Rambouillet and Finnsheep mixed with Targhee and Dorset sheep. In the 1970s, these sheep were developed to meet the specific demands of farmers.

In one year, these sheep can produce a really good wool crop. Furthermore, this breed is great for its mothering skills, hardiness, and meat weight.

It's a great idea for a small farm and a great choice for families. You will be able to get two lamb crops and you will be able to sell their wool. This is another popular breed that you can find easily and that can be sold easily.

Sheep of this breed are large and wooly. Ewes can weigh up to 150 pounds. It is also easy to keep these sheep healthy, and they are easy to handle.

Blackhead Persian Sheep​

Originating in South Africa, this breed of non-wool sheep is descended from a Somali sheep. It has a white body and a black head. This breed is popular as a meat breed.

Adaptable to a wide variety of climates, they are ideal for those who experience extreme seasonal weather changes. Sheep of this breed are fertile and reproduce quickly. It is perfect for those who wish to have a high population and to produce a lot of meat.

They are considered hair sheep since they will not grow wool. This makes them ideal for beginners since no shearing will be required. They are excellent for tolerating high temperatures because they have hair and not wool.

Dorper Sheep​

This is another breed of sheep from South Africa. The sheep were bred by an agriculture department from a mix of Blackhead Persian and Dorset Horn sheep.

American farms commonly raise this breed of sheep. The reason they are so popular is that they are easy to handle and have a wonderful mothering instinct. Their fertility rate is high, which is great for people who want to breed and raise lambs.

Dorpers are another breed of hair sheep that is great for beginners. Unlike many other breeds of sheep, they won't need to be sheared.

Barbados Blackbelly Sheep​

Barbados Blackbelly originated in Barbados, as its name suggests. It is a good breed for regions with varied weather conditions. As a result, they can tolerate a wide variety of weather conditions, such as cold weather, snow, hot weather, and high humidity.

It is not uncommon for these sheep to produce twins or triplets. When given enough mating time with rams, they will lamb up to two times a year.

Beginners will love this breed because it is easy to keep healthy. Diseases and internal parasites that other breeds are more susceptible to are very infrequent in this breed.

This breed will be a great choice if you don't have a lot of land for sheep. Due to their amazing foraging skills, they are able to live on small plots of land. Furthermore, they are hair sheep, so they will not require shearing. They are one of the most popular and unique breeds of hair sheep.

East Friesian Sheep​

If you are interested in dairy sheep, East Friesian is a great breed to begin with. East Friesian sheep are among the most popular commercial dairy sheep breeds. This wool sheep is not very hardy and therefore cannot adapt to environments that differ from where it was created.

Small flocks, however, tend to thrive on small farms. A sheep of this breed can produce three times as much milk as other breeds. Their milk is used for a range of purposes, from raw and organic milk to many different kinds of cheese.

The breed is also easy to maintain with other breeds of sheep. As a large breed, they will need to be shorn occasionally due to their medium-quality wool.

Katahdin Sheep​

Developed in the 1950's, this is a fairly new breed of sheep. Their low maintenance makes them a cheaper breed to own. Those who have never raised sheep before and want to get started with a small flock will find this a great choice.

The sheep are very docile and perfect for families with children. It is not necessary to shear them and they are very easy to care for.

Typically, Katahdins are bred by sheep producers who are primarily interested in meat production. Katahdins adapt well to various climates. These animals typically have horns that may need to be trimmed. Comparatively to some other breeds of sheep, this breed of sheep is very hardy and resistant to parasites.

A Quick Guide to Raising Sheep​

Let's discuss some quick tips for raising sheep so you can do things the right way now that you know the best kinds of sheep you can raise, including wool and hair sheep breeds. You may be surprised at how easy it is to raise sheep.

What Do Sheep Eat?​

Most sheep breeds will consume plants such as fresh grass and hay. When fed salt, pasture grasses, mineral and vitamin supplements, and fresh water, they will live well. A pasture of one acre is plenty of room, and it is best if it contains a mixture of trees, grass, and brush.

Sheep are able to feed themselves when the pasture grass grows. You might need to supplement their diet with some grain and hay in the winter or during droughts.

What Kind of Housing Do Sheep Need?​

Make sure you choose the right kind of fence when fencing sheep. Consider a smooth-wire electric fence or a non-electric woven-wire fence. When it is hot outside, remember to provide shade.

They won't need much protection. Still, make sure that you provide them with a simple type of shelter to protect them against wind, rain, and snow. If you wish to raise ewes during the winter, this rule does not apply. To protect the lambs from the elements, you'll need a small shed or barn.

What Is The Best Way To Handle Sheep?​

If you know how sheep behave and move, they are easy to handle. The sheep will always move toward other sheep you have and follow them. You will be able to herd them more easily if they have curves where they cannot see past.

Sheep are just like any other animal when it comes to training. For them, food is a powerful motivator. Simple treats like apples, peanuts, and grains will entice them to you.

Several types of illnesses and parasites can affect sheep. The situation is even more acute when there are too many sheep in too small an area. You can prevent this by rotating your pastures every few weeks.

Besides dogs, wolves, and coyotes, sheep have predators such as eagles and other birds. Keeping some trained animals such as a dog is the easiest way to solve this problem. You can also respond quickly to any emergency if they are in an open area within your sight.

Conclusion​

Sheep are excellent farm animals for beginners and are great for anyone looking to get their own flock. Before purchasing any sheep, make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You might be able to find one of these breeds at your local breeder!

Compared to other farm animals, sheep tend to be low-maintenance, cheaper, and easier to handle. This makes them an excellent choice for family farms. Moreover, they can provide your farm with meat, wool, and milk.

With all of the benefits that these animals provide on the farm, you will quickly fall in love with them. Why are these animals so popular? Because they are awesome!

Which of these sheep breeds is best for your farm? Share your thoughts in the comments!
 

Baymule

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I love my Katahdin sheep. No shearing, low maintenance and calm attitudes. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. Many are parasite resistant and pads this trait on to their offspring.
 

farmerjan

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I will have to make the comment that Barbados Black belly are not a very calm or friendly type of sheep in general. They are much more flighty and revert back to the semi-feral attitudes unless they are worked with alot. They are very hardy, and the lambs are cute and FAST.....
Good article for a beginner to read...
 

Legamin

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I looked at Katahdin sheep when we first got into this but the farms that I visited (there are not many who raise them in this area) had herds that were very skittish and unpredictable. Being disabled I have to be very aware of what the sheep are going to do around me. The Leicester Longwools have proven to be pretty much like gently giant pets who are very aware of what is happening in their pasture. But the have the activity level and personality perfect for us. I would like to see a Katahdin herd that matches the calm reputation you describe (and that I have read about the breed) but I will have to travel East I think. Best of luck with your herd. Looks like I may be picking up a Katahdin ram for a friend on my next ram buying trip so maybe I’ll see that calm herd yet!
 

Legamin

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View attachment 90241

Do you want to raise sheep but don't know where to begin? Since there are so many breeds to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed. All kinds of sizes, colors, and shapes are available, so it can be hard to choose just one.

The following article discusses some of the easiest sheep breeds for beginners to raise. Most of these sheep will be easy to raise and more friendly to people.

How Easy Is It to Raise Sheep?​

Sheep have been raised for meat, milk, and wool for thousands of years. This is due to several factors. Compared to other farm animals like horses, pigs, and cows, sheep are relatively small and easy to handle.

Sheep are usually friendly toward people and can be trained. You can train them to follow you, stand when you order them, and even come to you when you call them. Rams, on the other hand, can sometimes be aggressive, but not in a way that would make them difficult to handle.

Sheep don't require a lot of room to roam. For them to live, one acre is enough space, but if you are able to give them more than that, it would be great. Three to five ewes and a few lambs can live on an acre.

Sheep are thus an easy choice for beginners and for families who wish to experience this with their children. Sheep are popular among 4-H members looking to show them in competitions.

Which Sheep is the Easiest to Keep?​

Food, water, and housing are aspects of keeping sheep that will never change regardless of the breed. Additionally, there are a few other things to consider depending on the breed.

Shearing is the first step. A hair sheep is the easiest to start with if you are a beginner. As opposed to wool sheep, this type of sheep does not require shearing. This means you won't have to worry about buying special equipment or dealing with skin issues and heat stress.

Next, we will consider friendliness. Sheep tend not to be too afraid of people, though some breeds are friendlier than others. If you don't remember this, you will have a hard time earning their trust.

Mothering ability is another factor to consider. Choosing a sheep with a good mothering ability will be important if you are specifically breeding sheep. Though raising a bottle baby sheep might seem fun, feeding them every two hours will get very old, very fast.

Here are a few of the best sheep breeds for beginners.

Suffolk Sheep​

If you are interested in producing meat as well as wool, the Suffolk sheep breed is very popular. They are crossbred from several meaty sheep breeds that predate the 19th century. As a result, they developed traits from both parents that maximized meat production.

You are probably familiar with these sheep because they are easily recognizable. These sheep have black faces and woolly backs, as well as long legs that are black. A mature ewe can weigh as much as 250 pounds, making them a larger breed.

Large, hardy, and prolific, they make great mothers. When farmers want to raise meat sheep, they are one of their first choices. They are also very popular with kids and adults for competitions.

No matter whether they'll be used for commercial production or on a small homestead, they are a great addition for a beginner sheep owner.

Shearing is necessary for these sheep because they have medium wool. Even so, the extra work with shearing is compensated by their hardiness, size, and mothering ability.

Polypay Sheep​

It is a hybrid breed and not a breed in itself. Basically, it is a cross of Rambouillet and Finnsheep mixed with Targhee and Dorset sheep. In the 1970s, these sheep were developed to meet the specific demands of farmers.

In one year, these sheep can produce a really good wool crop. Furthermore, this breed is great for its mothering skills, hardiness, and meat weight.

It's a great idea for a small farm and a great choice for families. You will be able to get two lamb crops and you will be able to sell their wool. This is another popular breed that you can find easily and that can be sold easily.

Sheep of this breed are large and wooly. Ewes can weigh up to 150 pounds. It is also easy to keep these sheep healthy, and they are easy to handle.

Blackhead Persian Sheep​

Originating in South Africa, this breed of non-wool sheep is descended from a Somali sheep. It has a white body and a black head. This breed is popular as a meat breed.

Adaptable to a wide variety of climates, they are ideal for those who experience extreme seasonal weather changes. Sheep of this breed are fertile and reproduce quickly. It is perfect for those who wish to have a high population and to produce a lot of meat.

They are considered hair sheep since they will not grow wool. This makes them ideal for beginners since no shearing will be required. They are excellent for tolerating high temperatures because they have hair and not wool.

Dorper Sheep​

This is another breed of sheep from South Africa. The sheep were bred by an agriculture department from a mix of Blackhead Persian and Dorset Horn sheep.

American farms commonly raise this breed of sheep. The reason they are so popular is that they are easy to handle and have a wonderful mothering instinct. Their fertility rate is high, which is great for people who want to breed and raise lambs.

Dorpers are another breed of hair sheep that is great for beginners. Unlike many other breeds of sheep, they won't need to be sheared.

Barbados Blackbelly Sheep​

Barbados Blackbelly originated in Barbados, as its name suggests. It is a good breed for regions with varied weather conditions. As a result, they can tolerate a wide variety of weather conditions, such as cold weather, snow, hot weather, and high humidity.

It is not uncommon for these sheep to produce twins or triplets. When given enough mating time with rams, they will lamb up to two times a year.

Beginners will love this breed because it is easy to keep healthy. Diseases and internal parasites that other breeds are more susceptible to are very infrequent in this breed.

This breed will be a great choice if you don't have a lot of land for sheep. Due to their amazing foraging skills, they are able to live on small plots of land. Furthermore, they are hair sheep, so they will not require shearing. They are one of the most popular and unique breeds of hair sheep.

East Friesian Sheep​

If you are interested in dairy sheep, East Friesian is a great breed to begin with. East Friesian sheep are among the most popular commercial dairy sheep breeds. This wool sheep is not very hardy and therefore cannot adapt to environments that differ from where it was created.

Small flocks, however, tend to thrive on small farms. A sheep of this breed can produce three times as much milk as other breeds. Their milk is used for a range of purposes, from raw and organic milk to many different kinds of cheese.

The breed is also easy to maintain with other breeds of sheep. As a large breed, they will need to be shorn occasionally due to their medium-quality wool.

Katahdin Sheep​

Developed in the 1950's, this is a fairly new breed of sheep. Their low maintenance makes them a cheaper breed to own. Those who have never raised sheep before and want to get started with a small flock will find this a great choice.

The sheep are very docile and perfect for families with children. It is not necessary to shear them and they are very easy to care for.

Typically, Katahdins are bred by sheep producers who are primarily interested in meat production. Katahdins adapt well to various climates. These animals typically have horns that may need to be trimmed. Comparatively to some other breeds of sheep, this breed of sheep is very hardy and resistant to parasites.

A Quick Guide to Raising Sheep​

Let's discuss some quick tips for raising sheep so you can do things the right way now that you know the best kinds of sheep you can raise, including wool and hair sheep breeds. You may be surprised at how easy it is to raise sheep.

What Do Sheep Eat?​

Most sheep breeds will consume plants such as fresh grass and hay. When fed salt, pasture grasses, mineral and vitamin supplements, and fresh water, they will live well. A pasture of one acre is plenty of room, and it is best if it contains a mixture of trees, grass, and brush.

Sheep are able to feed themselves when the pasture grass grows. You might need to supplement their diet with some grain and hay in the winter or during droughts.

What Kind of Housing Do Sheep Need?​

Make sure you choose the right kind of fence when fencing sheep. Consider a smooth-wire electric fence or a non-electric woven-wire fence. When it is hot outside, remember to provide shade.

They won't need much protection. Still, make sure that you provide them with a simple type of shelter to protect them against wind, rain, and snow. If you wish to raise ewes during the winter, this rule does not apply. To protect the lambs from the elements, you'll need a small shed or barn.

What Is The Best Way To Handle Sheep?​

If you know how sheep behave and move, they are easy to handle. The sheep will always move toward other sheep you have and follow them. You will be able to herd them more easily if they have curves where they cannot see past.

Sheep are just like any other animal when it comes to training. For them, food is a powerful motivator. Simple treats like apples, peanuts, and grains will entice them to you.

Several types of illnesses and parasites can affect sheep. The situation is even more acute when there are too many sheep in too small an area. You can prevent this by rotating your pastures every few weeks.

Besides dogs, wolves, and coyotes, sheep have predators such as eagles and other birds. Keeping some trained animals such as a dog is the easiest way to solve this problem. You can also respond quickly to any emergency if they are in an open area within your sight.

Conclusion​

Sheep are excellent farm animals for beginners and are great for anyone looking to get their own flock. Before purchasing any sheep, make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You might be able to find one of these breeds at your local breeder!

Compared to other farm animals, sheep tend to be low-maintenance, cheaper, and easier to handle. This makes them an excellent choice for family farms. Moreover, they can provide your farm with meat, wool, and milk.

With all of the benefits that these animals provide on the farm, you will quickly fall in love with them. Why are these animals so popular? Because they are awesome!

Which of these sheep breeds is best for your farm? Share your thoughts in the comments!
I remember when I decided on sheep. I had some land, already had barns…it all seemed so simple! $45,000 later…..it was ‘less simple’ but more enjoyable! Now it’s a farm with a lot of paperwork and the most enjoyable hard day’s work I have ever done in my life!
 

Legamin

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@Legamin ; you need to take a trip to Tenn to @Mike CHS 's farm and see his or to Texas to @Baymule 's... she has the Katahdin ram that Mike used for several years... and since you are in Washington... a trip to @Ridgetop 's in Calf where she has White Dorpers.... see, I can plan a "sheep trip" for you :lol:
:lol::lol::gig:gig:gig:highfive:
I will keep that in mind. Our son moved to Houston over a year ago and we plan a visit there and we have been looking at some land with a house and three barns and pole building in Tennessee as a realistic move for us. This state has gone the way of California in both politics (which I can ignore) and in real estate prices (which is getting much harder to ignore). The idea of having 25x the land, a bigger house and more sheep is something I am VERY interested in…also there is a great beekeeping network in Tennessee and we could expand our rabbit operation without needing to go vertical…and still keep half of the sale price of this place in the bank for retirement…it’s a quandary….
 

Mike CHS

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I will keep that in mind. Our son moved to Houston over a year ago and we plan a visit there and we have been looking at some land with a house and three barns and pole building in Tennessee as a realistic move for us. This state has gone the way of California in both politics (which I can ignore) and in real estate prices (which is getting much harder to ignore). The idea of having 25x the land, a bigger house and more sheep is something I am VERY interested in…also there is a great beekeeping network in Tennessee and we could expand our rabbit operation without needing to go vertical…and still keep half of the sale price of this place in the bank for retirement…it’s a quandary….

I have seen Katahdins that are extremely wild but that is due to the way they are handled or usually not handled enough. Our keeper lambs are skittish for a couple of weeks after we wean but usually by the end of that couple of weeks, they are literally eating out of my hand and come running as soon as they see me. They are skittish because they don't get much contact until it is determined that they will be staying on the farm. Our adult sheep are so tame that we can work on their hooves out in the field if we see something that needs to be looked at.

A lot of people prefer their sheep on the wild side especially if they use dogs to work them. We have two herding dogs but I only let them work the sheep rarely for the dogs sake since it's actually easier for me to open a gate and call the sheep in to wherever we are moving. I let the dogs follow the sheep since the sheep are already following me and the dogs get the feeling that they are actually working. :)
 

farmerjan

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I will keep that in mind. Our son moved to Houston over a year ago and we plan a visit there and we have been looking at some land with a house and three barns and pole building in Tennessee as a realistic move for us. This state has gone the way of California in both politics (which I can ignore) and in real estate prices (which is getting much harder to ignore). The idea of having 25x the land, a bigger house and more sheep is something I am VERY interested in…also there is a great beekeeping network in Tennessee and we could expand our rabbit operation without needing to go vertical…and still keep half of the sale price of this place in the bank for retirement…it’s a quandary….
With what little you have "revealed" , it sure would not be a quandary for me... I would be gone out of Wash so fast they wouldn't even see the mud flying off the wheels....
Seriously, @Mike CHS and his wife Teresa have some of the nicest looking Katahdins and works at the parasite resistance end... as well as selling some really nice well grown lambs..... You could PM him and I am sure he could tell you more about the state's good and bad angles... I could not live with the politics and the prices out there... and if it is saleable now, that is the time to go before things get too tough and there is no way to sell your place.....
 

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