Questions about sheep

Nathan Justice

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I am looking into getting sheep to add to my herd.. I have never owned sheep before, and I had quite a few questions for some you sheep people;

1) I know sheep cannot have copper; would it be wise to keep the goats and sheep separate? is copper essential for goats? if not, what food is a good food for both sheep and goats

2) I was looking into the typical white wool sheep, I want to learn how to shear sheep.. any tips as far as making this easy as possible for me?

3) How many times a year do I need to shear my sheep?

ANY tips and helpful info would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you guys!
 

purplequeenvt

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Sheep actually do need copper (contrary to popular opinion), the issue is that they don't need anywhere near as much as goats, horses, and cows.

A mixed flock is possible, but you would have to remove all goat minerals and feeds and make sure you are giving sheep specific minerals and any feed is a No Copper Added stock feed or a sheep pellet.

You will have to supplement your goats with copper boluses as a result.

What do you mean by "typical white sheep"? There are so many breeds to choose from. You should consider doing some research and choosing a breed or crossbreed that you like and that fits your goals.

Are you raising them for meat, wool, pets?

Shearing will depend on the breed. If you get hair sheep (Katahdin, Dorper, etc....you may get a number of people pushing those breeds here) you won't need to shear. Something like a Suffolk, Dorset, Merino, any of the fine/medium wool breeds really would only need shearing once a year.

Long wool breeds like Border Leicesters, Romneys, Lincolns, Cotswolds, etc....can be sheared only once a year, but many benefit from shearing twice. We raise mainly longwool breeds (Border Leicester and Lincoln amongst others) and we usually shear twice a year. In the spring after they've ruined their fleeces in the barn and again in the fall before breeding season when they have nice clean fleeces.

When you say you are wanting to learn to shear, do you mean that you want to shear just for yourself or for others as well? YouTube is a great resource if you are a visual kind of person.

At our farm, my younger sister does all our shearing. I can shear too, but I don't like shearing. She uses electrics, but when I shear, I generally use hand shears. We shear the sheep standing up on a fitting stand. It takes longer than the professional way, but it's easier on the humans and the sheep usually stay pretty calm.

My biggest tip would be to research and ask questions BEFORE purchasing your sheep.
 

Baymule

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Good idea to do your research before getting sheep. Is there anyone near you that could mentor you? Maybe you could watch them shear their sheep. If you buy sheep locally it might be possible to get shearing lessons as well.
 

norseofcourse

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I don't know what state you are in, but my state (Ohio) has a shearing school once or twice a year, for a very reasonable cost. At the least it would help with handling skills, but it's taught with electric shears, which are expensive.

purplequeenvt is correct about shearing the longer wooled breeds twice a year. It also depends on what you'll be doing with the wool. Some fiber mills can't handle the longer fiber from some breeds, so you have to shear twice a year to get fiber short enough for them to handle. I have been told some mills can handle the long stuff. I shear a full year's growth off some of my adult Icelandics, and I'll be experimenting with working with their fiber myself

It can be hard to find a good shearer for a small number of sheep.
 

Bossroo

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In this day and age the cost of shearing , more often than not, costs more than the value of the wool. Sheep that shed their wool would be more cost effective to the bottom line.
 

norseofcourse

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In this day and age the cost of shearing , more often than not, costs more than the value of the wool. Sheep that shed their wool would be more cost effective to the bottom line.
Bossroo is right. I make more from my lamb than from their wool.

You can find opportunities like marketing to handspinners, sometimes easier with certain breeds. This often involves higher inputs of time and/or money, and it helps to get involved in the fiber community to find out what handspinners want and how to produce and process your wool in the best way possible. But it can take over a good part of your life - right now I have five spinning wheels, numerous drop spindles, a drum carder, a wool picker, a floor loom, hand cards, books on spinning, knitting, weaving, lots of fiber in various stages of preparation, and tables and stuff for setting up at fiber shows :)
 

mygoldendoe

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I won't be too much help as I don't have my sheep yet. Iv spent a few months researching breeds and I had my heart set on a long wool breed for my spinning addiction and a yarnshop owner I know but with 2 small kids, all our meat rabbits plus the actual sheep care I think the fiber processing would just eat up time I'm not sure I have. So for me im starting out with just hair sheep that I may transition into wool later as the kids get older.
Definitely do some research on them. This is great resourse to a broad spectrum of subjects on sheep.
But most of all be super realistic with yourself on how much time and help (or lack thereof) you'll have with working the particular breed you have your eye on.
 
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