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When looking for brood ewes

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Sheep' started by WolfeMomma, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. Jul 26, 2019
    WolfeMomma

    WolfeMomma Loving the herd life

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    When looking for good brood ewes, what do you look for. I find it hard to find something that is not someones cull that they are clearly getting rid of because its lacking in so many things. I have a great breeder near me, but since I already have quite a few of their sheep, I would like to bring in some different bloodlines, but also keeping the same standards. I know I cant have that perfect sheep, but I am curious, what are the areas that you are willing to over look. Which ones are you not and why. I like to hear about how others decide which sheep to buy . :)
     
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  2. Jul 26, 2019
    Roving Jacobs

    Roving Jacobs Seeing Spots

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    I look for 5-7 year old ewes that are being moved because their previous owner has kept better daughters. They did their job improving that flock now they can come improve mine. It helps if breeders know you and are willing to let you have these golden oldies. My sheep regularly produce into their teens though so depending on the breed you might be looking at 3 year olds instead for the same reason.

    I like them to be good mothers with a history of producing and raising multiples without intervention. They should have long bodies, straight backs, strong legs, and healthy feet. I don't care about broken teeth in older ewes but they shouldn't be over or under shot and should be able to keep weight on with a similar management style to mine. I don't mind if they look a little dumpy after weaning if their lambs are fat and sleek, especially the 7+ year olds. They need to still have a good udder though. Well attached, no mastitis lumps or chewed up teats.

    Horns are important in my breed but I don't mind if their horns broke or are drooping a bit at the tips as long as the base is strong and positioned well. Fleece can be improved as well as long as it isn't kempy so I would take a coarser even fleece over a finer uneven one. Pedigrees are also important to me since I raise purebred stock and I'll take an ugly ewe from a line that I love and know works with mine over a pretty ewe from an unknown line.
     
  3. Jul 29, 2019
    WolfeMomma

    WolfeMomma Loving the herd life

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    All very good points! I would love to find some ewes that are a bit older and have done their time on someones farm. Next time I talk to any breeders I will be sure to let them know I would be willing to take the older ewes. I have a hard time finding what I am looking for without having to drive across the country, but if I want some different genetics it seems as that is what might have to be done.
    For me the ideal ewe would be , tall , long back, thick , good shedding ,have a previous show career, or come from lines that have done fairly well, and good mothering instincts .....I have a VERY small flock and i don't have the time or the space for ewes that struggle to bond or don't bond with their lambs. Staying small, means that we have to be a little bit more strict in regards to what we keep and what we don't.
     
  4. Aug 4, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    Since you already have a good base flock with a good breeder near you for additional ewes, I would suggest you bring in the new blood through your rams. You can get a top quality ram for the price you would spend to buy several different bloodline ewes. I would buy a couple new rams from different breeders and bloodlines. However, make sure that the new lines are compatible with what you have. If your breed has a website, you can often look up pedigrees and bloodlines there. Then contact the breeders. Often some one will be coming your way after buying sheep from the breeder and will bring your animal out for a small fee.

    Shows and breed organizations often have on-line auctions. If you register ahead of time they may have info on livestock shippers on hand to transport the ram/s from the show/auction to you.

    By investing in a truly top notch ram you can bring in new blood and upgrade your flock for less than bringing in new ewes.
    Also if you bring in a ram from a well known breeder far away, you can sell breeding stock out of him since his lines will not be available in your area. Don't know your situation but possibly worth the investment.

    By continuing to bring in new rams and then breeding back to your base bloodline you can improve your flock with new blood cheaper than replacing several ewes, while keeping what you already like in your flock. Especially if your ewes are well built, and are good breeders and moms - and if a wool breed have good wool. When contacting the breeder for information on his rams, you can also ask if the breeder has any older ewes for sale. Sometime you will be able to buy some older ewes from that breeder that have been exposed to a different ram too. They can be shipped with the ram and sometimes if you ship a couple more to fill the truck the cost is less per animal.

    At the last West Coast on line sale a top quality White Dorper breeder put 5 older registered ewes exposed to one of his top rams in the sale as a group lot. They were aged 5-7 years and sold low at $275.00 apiece. Even if only 2-3 carried lambs to full term, it was a good deal if you were looking to build your flock quickly and cheaply. And percentages would give you at least 1 very good ewe and ram lamb out of the lambs born to keep as breeders. That would fulfill your purpose. And any open ewes could be covered by your current ram in a clean up operation. Go on line and look for a deal like that in an on-line auction. Most breeders post pix and descriptions. If they are using Lambplan they will post additional information you can look at.

    What breed do you have?
     
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  5. Aug 4, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    Look up the breed shows that have auctions, and plan a vacation trip with the family. Listen to the judges comments and if they schedule a seminar during the show go to it. You will meet lots of breeders and if it is an auction show, the animals for sale will be posted on line ahead of the sale. By looking up the animals you might be interested in you can communicate with the breeder ahead of time and he/she will be thrilled to show you all of his animals before and after the show. We like to get there the evening before and meet the breeders - lots of fun. The judge's comments are very instructive, and you can really get an idea of the animals. Sometimes prices are high, but sometimes they are rock bottom. I really lucked out at the last show in May and got several top quality animals from Utah, including a gorgeous new buck that I fell in love with but didn't think I needed until I saw him! LOL

    Then you can take your new animals home in your trailer yourself. Just remember to bring bike chains and padlocks so no one releases your animals or steals them while you are at a restaurant, rest stop, or motel on the way home. Of course water buckets, halters, and a broom and shovel to clean the trailer if they are going to be in it for several days.

    If the animals come in from out of state they are required to have certain health tests and certificates supplied by the breeder which you will need to cross state lines home.
     
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