What’s a good beginner sheep?

MtViking

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Im new to the group but have already learned a lot, for example maybe my plan to get American black belly sheep to start out, might not be the best way to go. There is a lot of info online that I’ve been sifting through and reading but I would like your opinions on pros and cons for different breeds. I definitely want a hair breed, with a full time job my homestead is going to be small and just to feed the family for now. Maybe farmers market stuff in the future. I would need something that does good in cold climates, it gets below 0 here every winter sometimes for several weeks at a time. I would like something that less prone to parasites and disease if that’s even an option, and something that can lamb on there own or as close to it as I can. Because there’s going to be times I’ll be working or won’t be available to help. I originally wanted a horned breed but listening to your comments I think that might be a bad idea for a beginner. Thanks in advanced for all your help.
 

Mike CHS

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I have only had Katahdins and Dorper/Katahdin cross and they both fit your criteria. We have been working sheep for going on three years and have only had to assist with one birth while running as many as 50 ewes. I don't know your location but we plan lambing from November through February and March but we rarely get down under the teens temperature wise. I know people that raise hair sheep in both Idaho and South Dakota who have no problem with the temps.
 

MtViking

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I have only had Katahdins and Dorper/Katahdin cross and they both fit your criteria. We have been working sheep for going on three years and have only had to assist with one birth while running as many as 50 ewes. I don't know your location but we plan lambing from November through February and March but we rarely get down under the teens temperature wise. I know people that raise hair sheep in both Idaho and South Dakota who have no problem with the temps.
I’m in Montana so Idaho and SD are both my neighbors and get very similar weather. I’m gonna look into those breeds you mentioned. I’m also gonna look at meat goats. I have time to decide the American black belly were just pretty sheep I never saw a sheep like it. But knowing more options is the best way to make a good choice for our plans. Thanks
 

MtViking

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50 ewes! Holy smokes! How much property do you need for that many sheep. I was thinking like one ram and two does then harvesting the lambs each season.
 

Mike CHS

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50 ewes! Holy smokes! How much property do you need for that many sheep. I was thinking like one ram and two does then harvesting the lambs each season.
We have just under 19 acres but most of those 50 sheep are only here for a few months. We will go into winter this year with 30 sheep as that's what our cool season grass can support and we only need minimal hay. We get very little freezing and also seldom see snow.
 

MtViking

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Katahdins were originally bred in Maine and named after Katahdin Mountain. It gets cold there ! LOL
That’s good to know yeah Maine is as far north as we are or pretty close anyways. I imagine winters can be really cold especially with the extra humidity being a coastal state.
 

Ron Bequeath

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Sorry to change the subject a bit but i live in PA zone 5b,6 and up till last spring raised goat for 50 years, the winters do get down around -10 so we do have cold and snow, and have to buy hay. This conception that because goats are browsers and eat leaves and shubs, yes my prize rose bushes mostly, that people can just bale up any junk and call it goat hay. Last year i bought hay from an amish farmer and he called it goat hay. Charged 3.50 a bale and bought 100, my goats wouldn't look at it, it went to bedding and ended on the compost, my friend told me about a guy who sold round bales that his cows eat so bought that at $35 and the goats wouldnt hardly touch it. Goats need a good dry high protein hay with alfalfa, comfrey, clover and timothy in it with not more than a third timothy. After blowing my budget on junk hay and losing a few kids I decided to step back from goats till I can work out a good plant combination. Ya some times wild goats can eat just about anything but what I noticed the previous year was that my goats loved the shagbark sumac and literally ate it like candy in the fall and winter. Just please, the tin cans went out many years ago, let's start informing folks that those beautiful animals we call goats shouldn't be fed junk.
 

sfgwife

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I’m in Montana so Idaho and SD are both my neighbors and get very similar weather. I’m gonna look into those breeds you mentioned. I’m also gonna look at meat goats. I have time to decide the American black belly were just pretty sheep I never saw a sheep like it. But knowing more options is the best way to make a good choice for our plans. Thanks
If you do goats and sheep... just make sure to be super careful of the copper in things they eat... for the sheep. Goats need copper and it will kill sheep. You have the option of copper bolus for the goats and get a mineral with none in it. It just means that you most likely will need bolus the goats more often.
 
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