St. Croix milking

bluemaranfan

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I'm especially interested in St. Croix sheep because that's what I have, but welcome advice from anyone with similar breeds.
I have 3 St. Croix and am new to sheep, having raised poultry for some years, but never a ruminant, except a few months years ago when I babysat some goats. I'm keeping them to reduce fuel load on my parcel (Northern Calif) and move them around using a Premier1 fence with a shade shelter in it. They are doing a fabulous job! We think we'll need about 8 in the flock for the job and will butcher or sell any wethers and extra ewes.
I love goat and sheep dairy products, and hope to obtain milk from the ewes.
My younger ewe and the ram are only 5 months old. I'm concerned now that maybe she went into heat last week and suspect that she has been mounted and I realize that she is a bit too young. I wasn't expecting that so soon and I don't really have a way to keep them separated, but it's probably too late now anyway. The older sheep is 4 yrs and the ram was pretty interested in her a couple weeks ago, although I'm not sure how he worked that out given the size difference.
I'm assuming someone will lamb in about 5 months.
Has anyone milked St Croix? Made cheese or yogurt?
 

farmerjan

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:welcome Just to let you know that male sheep and goats will start to act interested and can breed by 3-4 months. There have been "oops" babies before. In our Dall sheep, we try to get the males out no later than 4 months. The young ewe lambs can come in heat as young as 4 months but usually by 6 months, although the time of year has something to do with that as they are photoestrus. I don't know if you can use lutalyse on sheep to maybe abort her, but it will make her come back into heat if she were to abort so might not be the best idea.
Good luck with them. Ours are not milking sheep, we raise them for the rams horns. They are sold to hunting preserves. The younger ones, are sold for meat just like any breed of sheep, and we market most for the different ethnic holidays. Very lean and good meat if you like lamb.
 

Mike CHS

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I'm pretty sure Lutalyse isn't approved for sheep or goats. We have only had one oops ewe lamb get bred but she was developed body wise that we let her carry it. She was right at 85 pounds where our minimum weight is 90. We prefer to wait until they are closer to a year old but a lot of the commercial breeders we know put them with a ram at 5 months.
 

Beekissed

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Here's a handy YT vid or so on a milking sheep and making simple sheep cheese...



I too will be milking hair sheep this next season, so am preparing for it now...building stanchions, training the sheep to them, will train them to be handled around the udder while in stanchions, etc. I have all winter to do this, whereas you have a matter of months....you may want to get busy on planning for milking. ;)

You'll also have to pen up the lambs each evening so that you can milk in the morning...you'll need a way to separate them then, so now is the time to get that done.

You'll also need a place to keep your ram as you won't want to breed those girls right back and you'll need a place to keep your ram lambs after 3 mo. of age unless you intend to sell or band them for wethers, so an extra place for all the intact males to live together.
 

Baymule

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I have an "oops" ram lamb right now because the ewe bred back at 1 1/2 months after having twins. I had a lot of ram lambs and obviously castrated too late......sneaky little devils. This ram lamb had his nose all up in the ewes lady business at 28 days old! :thI am weaning him at 2 months, he is going to a neighbor.

Cow panels and T-posts make a 16'x16' pen, you can have it up in minutes. Make it larger by adding more cow panels. Half a cow panel, hog ringed on one side, clips on the other, makes a gate. Or you can collect free pallets and build a pen.

I have Katahdins, which are bred from St. Croix. They are ready to breed VERY EARLY, as you have discovered. It happens to the best of us. Get a pen built so you can put up Mr. Ladies Man. :lol:
 

Rezchamp

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Here's a handy YT vid or so on a milking sheep and making simple sheep cheese...



I too will be milking hair sheep this next season, so am preparing for it now...building stanchions, training the sheep to them, will train them to be handled around the udder while in stanchions, etc. I have all winter to do this, whereas you have a matter of months....you may want to get busy on planning for milking. ;)

You'll also have to pen up the lambs each evening so that you can milk in the morning...you'll need a way to separate them then, so now is the time to get that done.

You'll also need a place to keep your ram as you won't want to breed those girls right back and you'll need a place to keep your ram lambs after 3 mo. of age unless you intend to sell or band them for wethers, so an extra place for all the intact males to live together.


Love these videos.
I didn't realize it was so easy to make cheese.
My Nana made it when I was a wee tot. I loved it. I be been considering for a few years now to get a couple of ewes. Now even moreso.
Thank you for posting the info.
Thank you to eveyone's insights.
 

bluemaranfan

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Here's a handy YT vid or so on a milking sheep and making simple sheep cheese...



I too will be milking hair sheep this next season, so am preparing for it now...building stanchions, training the sheep to them, will train them to be handled around the udder while in stanchions, etc. I have all winter to do this, whereas you have a matter of months....you may want to get busy on planning for milking. ;)

You'll also have to pen up the lambs each evening so that you can milk in the morning...you'll need a way to separate them then, so now is the time to get that done.

You'll also need a place to keep your ram as you won't want to breed those girls right back and you'll need a place to keep your ram lambs after 3 mo. of age unless you intend to sell or band them for wethers, so an extra place for all the intact males to live together.
What great videos. Thanks!
 
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