Thinking of getting into sheep?!

Duckfarmerpa1

True BYH Addict
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
1,446
Reaction score
2,343
Points
263
Location
Kane,PA
Ok, as most of you know...Chris and I like to dive in head first with the farm...we’ve been talking about getting a few sheep for a few months now...mainly because we don’t want cows at this point, and we’ve seen the price that sheep CAN go for.... I love my goats, well, all my animals, so, I imagine that sheep would be just the same? So, we are looking for, non registered...starter sheep. Lambs really. Maybe one ewe, to breed this fall. I called on a ton the past few days...got a lot of info. Most I found were between $150-200...but Chris did find some for $100, but lost the page and we can’t can’t find it again. Ugh! We don’t know much about breeds...I like the dorpers...the kahadtans..I know I spelled that wrong...but those will be out of our price range. Same with hair, etc. so I guess I need a mixed? That’s fine. A guy said he gad a Hampshire... Chris gets his truck seats covered, when he build trucks, by an Amish guy who has sheep. He told Chris that he only gets $2 for the wool when he shears every year. I know that you guys get more, depending if you card it, spin it, etc. But, I’m not sure I want to go that far...just like milking the goats...it is much more involved than I ever thought. I love it now...but I had no idea! So, we’re thinking maybe start with 3...guess1 would have to be a ram...ugh. So, is it like a goat buck, where I don’t love on home, so that he respects me when he is older? Do sheep have to have fencing, or can they be free range like my goats? I’ve read on here about them wandering really far...so, that would be awful. So, how much land would I need to fence? Can I do it with just electric fence..or do I need both fencing...we are buying post hole digger...but, we were talking..if we could get away with just electric fence, it would be much cheaper....and easier. Ok, I think those are some of my basic questions for now....thanks in advance!!
 

High Desert Cowboy

True BYH Addict
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Messages
364
Reaction score
1,628
Points
213
Location
Utah
The best breed to buy is the one that works for you. It was just a couple of years ago I brought home my first 3 random ewes and a wooly looking ram that was a hair ram with a winter coat. In a short time I’ve sold the oldest ewe and the hair ram and have now changed gears entirely as to how I want to raise and manage sheep. Here were the questions I really asked when I bought those first four
Will they work for training herding dogs?
Can I breed them to pay the hay bill?
That was two years ago. But I believe that list was relevant to the moment and I do not regret getting into sheep that way. As I changed my mentality and I began to think of what I might want to do I asked new questions.
What does the consumer in my area want/need?
What am I willing to do/spend to make this venture profitable? Hair vs wool might factor in here as you’ll have to shear or pay someone to shear a wooly bugger.
How does breed XYZ fit in these criteria?
Now start researching breeds, ask friends in the know for your area, and ask the folks here who are much wiser than I how a specific breed will fit your plan. I saw Icelandic sheep for sale when I first started and I loved their look, but research found as a “primitive” breed they were more prone to stand up to the dogs and weren’t good for starting dogs. Katahdins interested me but I’m pretty sure my ram was the only Katahdin or Katahdin X in a hundred miles, and the consumer in my area didn’t want hair sheep. Suffolk’s get big, but at a price and they generally aren’t as prolific as other breeds. So I decided on Polypays for me because they do well with my current feed plan (ie bill) they could be sold at a decent profit for replacement ewes, I could afford to purchase a decent animal to start and they are more prone to multiple births for more lambs to sell. That was my choice based on my line of self questioning. Your questions might have to do with what you want to produce, if you really want to produce anything, or how much you like the look of an animal. There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s just what is important to your method of herd management.
Fencing, I can answer. Electric works, until one day it doesn’t. My horse corral when we first moved here was electric wire and worked for two years, until it didn’t. I was at work the first time and my wife wasn’t happy. It was 4:00 in the morning the second time, and I wasn’t happy. There was not a third time. A neighbor threw up a chain link fence to hold their sheep that worked great until a dog ran her sheep through the fence. It didn’t have very good posts, it was more about looking solid as opposed to being solid. I would use electric fencing for temporarily keeping an animal in a grazing area, but not as a long term option. As to area, I wish I hadn’t built mine so big. They have plenty of space but it can be difficult to wrangle them without the dogs and they’ve turned to whole area into a dry lot. I’d havE to measure out how big id prefer it was and I plan on putting up more fence to create a smaller dry lot area with access to the larger area in the summer.
I’m sorry I can’t give you exact breeds or corral sizes, I could but it might not fit with your management style. All I can say is go with what will work for you, but have solid permanent fencing in place.
 
Last edited:

Duckfarmerpa1

True BYH Addict
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
1,446
Reaction score
2,343
Points
263
Location
Kane,PA
That was great info!! That was kind of what we were think8ng about the fencing..put up the permanent fencing..,and inside that use the hot wire to rotate pasture. We just have to designate how many acres to fence in...because we are going to hay now, plus expand our garden, and plant at least 1-2 acres of pumpkins and BOSS...for animals and our garden market. We have 35 acres, but some of it is wooded. Ugh!! We DO have a race track..1/4 mile dirt track that I want to plant BOSS in, I think it would look great and you could still see the track as we go whipping around!! There was always hay in there and some small pines and we could see.

when you say..dry lot...you mean, they eat it dry..you mean because of where you live? I’m in NW PA...it’s never dry here...always wet and cold...so I doubt I’d have that worry unless they are diggers? :lol:

polypays...ok, I’m going to read up on those...they sound like a good,..basic? Sturdy breed? That isn’t too fussy? To begin with? I have goats so, I understand the care and time and how complex animals can be. I had nooo clue how complicated goats were...now all my pigs are a piece of cake!! Two are due to farrow any day and I’m not 3ven stressed! Sooo different than kidding season!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

High Desert Cowboy

True BYH Addict
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Messages
364
Reaction score
1,628
Points
213
Location
Utah
Dry lot because it is the area where your animals will spend more time than any other and will eat all the forage and then stomp it down to the point it doesn’t grow. So now there’s no forage and you have to feed hay. At least that’s how it is here
 

purplequeenvt

True BYH Addict
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Messages
1,897
Reaction score
1,692
Points
273
Location
Rineyville, KY
This is what I would do if I were in your situation (in regards to fencing):

Build a secure pen - cattle panels and t-posts are a good choice here. You want it to be large enough to comfortable fit your flock, but small enough that you aren't chasing sheep around when you are trying to handle them.

Feed the sheep grain in this pen so that they associate the pen (and you) with food. Train them to come when you shake a bucket, believe me, this will save you SOOO many headaches.

For your 1st year with sheep, get some step-in posts and polywire and make either temporary moveable paddocks or a larger semi-permanent pasture. This is a relatively inexpensive way to figure out the best way to set up your pastures.

I lock my sheep up every night in part because I like having the chance twice a day to get a good look at everybody as they head out and back to the pasture, but also because I don't have a guardian animal.
 

Duckfarmerpa1

True BYH Addict
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
1,446
Reaction score
2,343
Points
263
Location
Kane,PA
Yes, we’ve discussed getting an LGD several times...Chris says no. Another mouth to feed. But, I think it’s really because we lost our dog this past summer, we’re still not even allowed to talk about her...he’s so broken hearted!!
 
Top