I am looking into sheep and have questions.

messybun

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Hello all, as the title suggests I am thinking about getting some sheep. I have goats already but I have heard sheep can be trickier. My goats are mostly pygmies, with one big whether(200 lb "pygmy cross") lol.
Can sheep and goats get along, or will the sheep bully my goats? I know that sheep are really parasite prone, my goats thus far have been very fortunate even when my deworming has gotten lazy, will sheep parasites put my current animals at risk? There is no possible way to rotate pasture, but I have a partial plan, more on that later.
Do sheep jump on things and play like goats do, what toys and entertainment do they usually like? Do they need anything extra special with their shelter or is it just good ventilation, waterproof, cleanable, the basics? Do they need anything different in feed, aside from no copper, anything different from goats as far as grass/hay, corn, sweetfeed, bread?
I want to start with hair sheep because they are supposed to be more hardy and easier lambers. Does anyone know if this is actually true? I don't have much experience helping with birth and we don't have a vet to help so I want to start with something hopefully more manageable. Has anyone milked sheep before, how much do you get about? What meds do I have to have on hand? I know a basic antibiotic, vitamin b, and calcium what else should I have on hand? What vaccines do you ACTUALLY need?
Now, it's later, here's my half-baked plan. Use hog panels as a movable pen. I have my pasture that is a bit under an acre fenced with sheep and goat wire and it has two strands of polyrope on the inside( if it decides to work that day!!!) but there is a chunk of my land that isn't fenced and has to be mowed and my goats can't quite keep my pasture down anyway. So, in the summer I was thinking to put the sheep into and 8x8 pen and move them as often as they eat it down. I have seen people put large panels on wheels, but any lambs would be able to get out so I was thinking the small panels unless anyone has a different experience or a better idea. My grass tends to be lush, would two sheep be able to be maintained on a quarter acre? The thought had been to graze the two sheep together and then when it came lambing time to move their fence into my pasture, as a jug, because there would be more predator protection. Then I could either move individual mama and lambs outside the fence when they were ready or both mamas together. Depending on how they get along, I could make an 8x16 rectangle of cattle panels and let moms and babies graze in the same pen. Would and 8x8 or 8x16 be enough space to keep the sheep happy, or would they get cabin fever over the summer? They would of course get a movable house with them. Do sheep even babysit each other's lambs like goats do? For the half-cooked part... the winter. What would I do with the sheep in winter? I would assume I sold the babies, but where would I put them? Could I put them in the pasture with the goats? Where would I put the sheep if they didn't get along with the goats? Any ideas?
Now, for the business part, does this sound doable? Would I be running in the red or is it even possible to not? Is there a possibility of making my own yarn, I know there wouldn't be much of it because they would be hair sheep, but with extra work can it even be done?
Final question, and I know there have already been a ton of them, what does no one tell ewe about sheep because it should be basic knowledge but it isn't?
Thank you in advance sheeple people for any answers.
 

Baymule

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I have Katahdin hair Sheep, they aren’t parasite prone. Some are, those are the ones we sell. LOL
You can’t spin wool from hair Sheep. It is very short and would be contaminated by the hair.

Sheep don’t babysit other lambs. St least mine don’t. They don’t jump on things like goats do and are very easy to keep in a fence. I have never assisted any of my ewes with birth. I usually have 10-12 ewes.

Basic shelter is good. My Sheep barn is a 20’x24’ roof off the side of a portable building. There is a small plywood shelter under the roof, my early Sheep shelter. LOL
 

Beekissed

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I too have Katahdins and agree with Bay about the parasites...some are prone, though not NEAR as prone as goats, overall. Those that need worming are sold or butchered, the ones that don't require worming are bred for more of the same and that's an ongoing process.

My sheep don't have any shelter but trees and brush as they are on a pasture based system and many do the same, even in very cold climates. Sheep pretty much carry their barn on their backs, with coats that resist rain and insulate them well.

The only problem most express in keeping goats and sheep together are that sheep are dominant in most cases and they can't share the same minerals, as goats require more copper than do sheep.

Sheep can be milked and some of the most expensive cheese in the world is made from sheep's milk. Katahdin are one of the more milky of the sheep breeds, so some do milk their Kats. I have one that would be a great milker with a large, even udder and large, easy to grasp teats....she regularly feeds 3-4 lambs at a time, so plenty of milk happening and all lambs fat as ticks.

Sheep are easier to keep in fences, don't tend to climb on things after a certain age...I had a lamb this season that was jumping to the top of round bales and playing tag on top of the bales, though the rest were too heavy to follow her.

3/4 of an acre isn't enough land to keep 4 ruminates in grass for long, so eventually you'd be feeding hay or feed all year round and the land would be prone to parasite and coccidia overload. You also have to consider that, if you want to have lambs, you have to have a ram for a time, either rented, borrowed or bought and then you have an extra mouth to feed for awhile. Then the lambs will be eating pasture as well, most as early as 10 days are sampling greens, and hair sheep tend to twin and triplets, so lots of extra sheep for awhile. Sheep eat a LOT and very quickly.

There's a business in selling bottle babies right now and for a good price too, so you could go that route, which would free up the milk for your consumption. That would ease the burden on the land somewhat, but not much with 4 adult animals full time.
 

Ridgetop

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I have had both dairy goats and sheep.

Goats are less parasite prone because of their feeding styles. Goats are foragers preferring to nibble bushes and trees here and there and move on. They prefer not to eat off the ground. Most goats will not touch hay that has been dropped on the ground unless they are starving - thus the use of keyhole feeders to prevent hay waste.

Sheep are grazers, they eat grass off the ground Certain breeds of hair sheep are better foragers than others, but all will graze on the ground, thus infecting and re-infecting themselves with parasites. Certain breeds of sheep are more resistant to parasites than others, but all will pick up parasites if they are forced to graze in one small area without proper pasture management (such as confining them in a 16' x 16' pen).

Since you have don't have enough area to graze your sheep - I would not bother getting any breeding ewes. You would need to have a ram if you wish to breed sheep. Rams and goats will attempt to breed ewes and does indiscriminately. Thus you will need to separate your goats and sheep.

If your goats have horns, they can injure the sheep severely. Vice versa, a large sheep can injure a small pygmy or dwarf goat by butting it. The butt of a sheep is powerful enough to break a man's leg.

Stock panels and hog panels usually are sold in 16' sections If you are putting these together to form a 16' x 16' pen for grazing purposes on the unfenced land they would be too small for the sheep and would need to be moved at least once a day, probably twice. The grass area inside the fence would be trampled more than grazed. Moving stock panels once or twice a day is a lot of work and would get old fast. 8' x 8' sections would be totally unworkable as grazing pens for sheep. My lambing jugs are 5' x8' and those are too small other than to keep a ewe and newborn lambs for a week.

You could conceivably buy electric netting and a solar charger and enclose an area 100' x 50'. this would take 300' of electric netting and one solar charger You would need to change this pasture size frequently too. More netting would make a larger enclosure and possibly be more workable. You will have to train the sheep to the electric netting but this is doable.

My suggestion would be to use electric netting on the unfenced pasture, fencing s much as you can afford and moving it as needed. Do not buy breeding ewes, but rather in the spring when the grass is good buy weanlings to put in this pasture and finish out for meat. Once they have grazed off this grass take them to the butcher and put the meat into your freezer. You can supplement them with a little bit of corn. You can also buy bummer lambs to raise on a bottle. This will require the use of formula which will be an additional expense. If you have children that can do the bottle feeding that will cut your work load however you might have a problem putting those lambs in the freezer because of your kids' attachment to the lambs. I would just go with buying weanlings and putting them inside the electric fence. They don't need any additional housing or shelter unless your weather is extreme. They will need protection from predators since a predator can jump the 42"-48" electric netting. If you have somewhere to lock them up at night that would work. You don't say if you have any LGDs currently, however, your LGDs might not want to remain inside the electric fencing since they are probably bonded to the goats.

If you fence our 3/4 acre pasture with electric net fencing and park your stock trailer (if available) inside this fence, you can give the sheep a bait of corn at night to get them into the trailer and lock them in at night. Let them out in the am to graze the grass. If you don't have a stock trailer, you can put a small shedin the middle of the pasture so that you can move the electric net fencing around the shed over the season. Bait the sheep into the shed at night, letting them out in the am.

Since your grazing is only available to you in the spring and summer months, there is no reason to keep and feed breeding ewes and a ram. You can accomplish the same purpose by simply bringing in a couple of meat lambs and feeding them out to butcher size. This will be much more economical and also give you the fun of raising a couple of lambs for meat without the cost and work of keeping breeding ewes and a ram.
 

messybun

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Some good thoughts, thank you guys. I thought I would have enough space, a neighbor keeps a full horse on slightly less than an acre and only needs some hay in the winter, and my eight goats can’t keep their 2/3 ish of an acre down(it’s knee high in several spots right now). But that is why I asked actual farmers If sheep were a possibility. If I don’t have enough room now, could I get more bang for my buck so to speak with high quality forage? I already have clover, good quality grass, and a good variety of tasty weeds plus, I’m going to plant some oats and other forages next year to further improve on pasture quality. Unfortunately electric fence wouldn’t work, it would interere with our driveway (the main part we have to mow is a relatively narrow stretch adjacent to our driveway) and I passionately hate working with electric fence but I expected to move sheep twice a day any way. I would be the one raising the lambs lol, that’s part of what I wanted. The sheep would be to give me experience in sheep more than anything, and if I liked them I could get into wool sheep. Where I live there are plenty of hair sheep, but wool sheep would be a really big investment so I wanted to start small and build. If I can even work out a way to Keep sheep I definitely won’t have a ram lol! We have a lot of farmers local who offer stud services so I could easily and cheapely get my pick of males without having to keep my own and feed him.
 

Baymule

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I love my sheep. Rams can be dangerous jerks, so we drove nearly 1400 miles round trip to get Ringo, a registered Kahtadin ram. He is a lovebug, spoiled to lots of scratches, chin rubs and animal crackers. Plus he was raised in the Virginia Tech University parasite program and is highly resistant to worms.

It is wise for you to toss ideas out there and get feedback. Then when you make a move, it will be what is best for you and your sheep.
 

Ridgetop

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Check out the hand spinner wool market before deciding to keep wool sheep for wool. Also check out the availability of obtaining shearers in your area, Learning to shear can be done but you need to learn to shear without too any false or send cuts, since that diminishes the value of the wool. Also, different breeds of sheep have different wool and prices vary as demand for one over the other can be much higher. You can certainly spin any sheep wool but the best wools are on specific breeds of sheep and require certain types of care to protect the coat. I would recommend that you buy or borrow several comprehensive books from the library about sheep raising and care. Doing research first will save you money in the long run!
 

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Can sheep and goats get along, or will the sheep bully my goats?
Its usually the goats that are the problem to sheep, eating their wool, stepping on them, ramming them from dangerous angles.

will sheep parasites put my current animals at risk?
The extra filth will cause problems if you can't keep on top of it. They also share many parasites in common.

Do sheep jump on things and play like goats do, what toys and entertainment do they usually like?
No, rarely young lambs might try, but nowhere near what goats do. They like to eat in peace with other sheep, that's their joy n entertainment.

Do they need anything extra special with their shelter or is it just good ventilation, waterproof, cleanable, the basics?
Basics. More air flow if wool breeds.

Do they need anything different in feed, aside from no copper, anything different from goats as far as grass/hay, corn, sweetfeed, bread?
Corn, bread, sweetfeed isn't good for anyone, unless your fattening up for slaughter. Sheep need copper, all life does, but most sheep require far less.

Does anyone know if this is actually true?
I hear the same thing, but idk, I never kept any hair sheep before.

Has anyone milked sheep before, how much do you get about?
If it's not a milk breed, you don't get much. Rare times I've tried, I got half to 1 cup.

What meds do I have to have on hand?
I know a basic antibiotic, vitamin b, and calcium what else should I have on hand?
Spectoguard, dewormers, vitamin e. Fly spray.


What vaccines do you ACTUALLY need?
Might depend on your location. Technically, nothing, if you plan to cull w/e gets sick. Many say CDT is the main one to do.


Use hog panels as a movable pen.
You mean those short welded panels? They will jump out.

but any lambs would be able to get out
Yes. They make 4x4" panels, or just attach chicken wire to cattle panels to keep lambs in. Watch out for dips n hills. They'll roll out from under.

Quarter acre of lush grass
Sheep browse as well, even horses do it. Can't say if two will eat it all, stomp it to mud or decide its gross and not touch it.

.Would and 8x8 or 8x16 be enough space to keep the sheep happy, or would they get cabin fever over the summer?
They'll turn it to mud. Or are you moving it daily? If there's 2 moms n 4 lambs, it may not be enough space.

Do sheep even babysit each other's lambs like goats do?
No, they stomp, slam, headbutt other lambs away. Might even kill them.

What would I do with the sheep in winter? I would assume I sold the babies, but where would I put them? Could I put them in the pasture with the goats? Where would I put the sheep if they didn't get along with the goats? Any ideas?
On pasture or w/e you do with the goats. If they don't get along, add a dividing wall/fence.


Now, for the business part, does this sound doable? Would I be running in the red or is it even possible to not? Is there a possibility of making my own yarn, I know there wouldn't be much of it because they would be hair sheep, but with extra work can it even be done?
I'm sure I've read of someone spinning hair sheep wool, but I wouldn't bother. Maybe if its kept clean and you plucked it off, otherwise, it may get matted and messy. I don't think you'd see any true profit, after sheep costs, feed, equipment, meds, fiber equipment costs. Maybe if you managed to sell lambs for enough to cover all of that.


what does no one tell ewe about sheep because it should be basic knowledge but it isn't?
🤷🏽‍♀️ they're just another animal, nothing special or tricky about them. Keep eyes on their health, housing, food & things should be fine. Check sheep every 2wks from birth into autumn. Then again from spring to autumn. The third summer they shouldn't be at risk of parasites taking over.
 

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