Hey guys. Im from down south of Texas. Was wondering which would be the most prolific sheep breed? Was thinking black belly or pelibuey ewes and crossing them with dorper rams purely for meat production of course. And thoughts?
I was referring to lambs produced per year as in most frequently give 2 lamb crops per year, fertility and least seasonal breeders.
I have a few katahdin ewes but mostly they give birth just once per year. I feed them mostly green oat hay but maybe a mineral supplement would help a little.
I'm not a Sheeple so only "know" what I've read/heard... Not sure here if I'm accurate, but with 5 month gestation, then at least 2-3 months (generally more?) before weaning, then a month or two to get the ewe back in shape, I was under the impression that 3 births in a 2 year period was more or less the norm. From my understanding, nursing the lambs can really draw down a ewe, especially with twins or trips, unless it's a dairy breed. Many suggest that even that schedule is really pushing it if done over a long period and might shorten the life of the ewe, wear her out early. I suppose any hair sheep breed would fit the bill for production as they are year round breeders. As for meat yield, there are a number of breeds that are considered good.
Welcome to BYH. Browse around some as there's quite a bit of sheep knowledge shared in the various threads. Make yourself at home!
@Latestarter noted the pitfalls and you can do what you planned. I wouldn't do that to my sheep but that's our preference in taking care of our animals. We try to wean at 2-3 months but aren't rigid in doing so and we give our ewes time to get back into prime condition in whatever time that it takes but it's usually 4-6 months after she lambs. Most of the people that I know in our area shoot for three lambs in two years but I do know of some that breed back immediately after weaning at two months. If you are south of Texas you have more of a growing season than most any of us on the forum.
I keep a sheep mineral out (under the cover of the barn) for my sheep and they eat it like candy. I also give them Azomite which is a rock dust. Even with the mineral, they would eat dirt from fresh gopher mounds, so I added Azomite for their choice. The ewes are growing babies and can't gestate, birth and give milk to raise lambs, out of nothing. Most hay and pastures won't have the trace minerals they need.
If you are looking at number of lambs and number of lambings, then Polypays, would have to be at the top of the list. They are known for large "litters" of lambs, namely 3-5 at a time. But they are also less dependent on the whole photoestrus thing that most sheep are. Do a little research and you will be able to find some breeders. These are a WOOL BREED, so will need shearing. The Finnsheep that make up one of the original breeds in the cross were noted for their numbers of lambs per birth. One thing, often a ewe will not be able to feed all the lambs produced, simply because they cannot produce that amount of milk. Many will raise trips, but more than that will tax her system or the littlest lamb will just get shortchanged.
If you don't want to deal with wool then the breeds of hair sheep available is a shorter list.
Finnsheep and Romanovs are the most prolific breeds. You can breed sheep to lamb on an accelerated schedule; sheep with longer breeding seasons are best adapted to this (Finns, Romanovs, Dorsets, Polypays, Katahdins, etc). There are many frequencies you can choose from, every 7.2 months (STAR), 8 months (3x/2 yrs), or less frequent, up to and including 1x/yr.