So, here we go. Sheep, goats, or one of each?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by mom2jedi, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's the situation, our backyard is roughly 1/4 acre that about a third of is taken by the chickens currently. We are planning to build a new coop/run this spring moving them from one side of the yard to the other with a much more permanent fence. We are attempting to make sure there is room for a couple small livestock so the kids can do 4-H next school year. I did 4-H in high school nearly 20 years ago and had sheep. Pretty much the only thing I remember about them is that while they are sweet are not exactly smart, and need to be in pairs, or at least more than one.

    What we would like to accomplish by adding yet another animal to the household is having something that would take care of the grass. We have some brush-like substance but most of it is just really tall grass. (Mower is currently broken and our rather wet winter has made the yard resemble Ireland somewhat.) Now, a few months ago we had discussed having goats for milk but after realizing that in order to have milk you needed to keep breeding a doe (duh) decided it might be more trouble than it was worth.

    So here's where I need BYC to come to my rescue, can I get a wether (sp?) as a companion and to clear any brush and a lamb for the grass/4-H project? Will they get along? Would I have to get a new lamb right away to keep the wether company when the lamb sells at the fair? Hubby told me to start researching it like we were getting a sheep but I am not quite sure where to begin. I would want something on the small size for either since our yard is small and preferably something that wouldn't get into too much trouble. Fainting goat possibly?

    Oh, one last thing. If our run is made properly could the goat/sheep quarters be in there? They wouldn't be able to get into the coop and I don't keep feed in the run but the chickens would be able to get into theirs. Would that work or should they have their own pen separate from the chickens?

    Thanks!
     
  2. awesomefowl

    awesomefowl Argues with Goats

    Fainting Goats, Nigerian Dwarfs or Pygmies for goats are probably your best bet. If you just want a wether, a cheaper crossbreed would probably work just fine.

    For sheep, Shetlands, Miniature Cheviots, Soay, and Babydoll Southdowns are all small and cute but be aware sheep can be flightier than goats, esp. the more primitive small breeds like Soay and Shetlands. If you want more "pet"-like sheep you should raise a bottle lamb.

    You should go to Backyard Herds.com which has many experts on this stuff on it. (I'm theawesomefowl on it, but I'm not expert!!![​IMG] )
    I am hopefully going to get a few Katahdins (which are hair sheep) this summer, but they are big. Not huge, but big. St. Croix and Barbados Blackbelly sheep are smaller hair sheep breeds if you don't like/want to deal with wool. (I like wool and do knit but am not prepared to shear, wash and spin wool even though I do know how to spin)

    I like your username; it is funny. [​IMG]
     
  3. jason_mazzy

    jason_mazzy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sheep are a much better coice for grass maintanence. one of each and you can run into copper problems.
     
  4. awesomefowl

    awesomefowl Argues with Goats

  5. glenolam

    glenolam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great points about the copper. It's not to say you can't have a wether and a sheep, you'll just have to do more work for the wether like giving him copper boluses more often and giving him special minerals separate from the sheep.

    Sheep will do a much better job as a "lawn mower", but if you have a little brush it wouldn't hurt to have both!!
     
  6. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    San Diego, CA
    Thank you for the references. I will look into those. A wether is calmer than a buck certainly but how are they in comparison to a doe? I think I only had ram sheep when I raised them so don't have any experience with ewes either.

    ETA Just occurred to me, what exactly qualifies as brush that a goat would prefer? There is a ton of grass growing right now but there are also big green leafy weeds that are more plant than grass. Then in the summer we have mustard that sprouts up no matter how many times we pull it out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  7. lasergrl

    lasergrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    well, you can just choose a type of sheep known to eat browse as well as grass. Most of the primitive breeds eat anything. Ive had icelandics and now have soay, they are happy to eat weeds and grass, even at whatever tree branches low enough.

    Also, my goats are fenced on the lawn and they eat grass alot, but they dont eat it as fast or as manicured as the sheep.

    I havent found anything that will eat mustard other then pigs. Its maybe an aquired taste because supposedly deer love it.
     
  8. glenolam

    glenolam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anything leafy and weedy is preferred by goats, but there are toxic plants out there. *Most* goats seem to instincly know which plants they can and cannot eat but if you get yearlings they may not have had 'an older, wiser' goat teach them - for example, my first two goats were a 4 mo old wether and his 5 year old mother. He'd eat everything in site, even my rhodedendron bushes which are very toxic. When he'd go over to the bush and take a nibble, she'd push him out of the way and lead him elsewhere. He learned from her not to eat that bush.

    Here's a link to a list of plants that goats can/can't eat.
     
  9. protodon

    protodon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you can only get 2 animals, I might stick with one breed. I have nigerian dwarfs then I got a katahdin. She kind've bonded to them but she was so loud, She was louder than my goats. I then took her to a breeder to get bred and also bought one of their ewes. My ewe and the other ewe bonded right away and she is now quiet and content. So sheep are much better with the own kind, goats are kind of aloof, I think you could stick a single goat in with a bunch of sheep with better results than the other way around aka my situation.

    I also have katahdins and both were flighty at first but they have really really calmed down since i first got them. They follow me like dogs.They'll eat brush too. My katahdins will eat whatever the goats eat but they will eat way more grass than the goats who don't really care for it unless it's their only option.

    you could easily keep both goats and sheep together, feed them a sheep and goat feed that has no copper, give them a general mineral also with no copper, and then copper bolus the goat(s) every few months. This is what I do and it works fine.

    Sheep won't test your fences as much as goats will. But in my experience, neither will test your fences if they have plenty to eat whether it's pasture or hay. That keeps them busy. They generally will not want out of anywhere where there is food, if they have a reasonable amount of space of course.

    You wouldn't want a buck with such small space and when it comes to temperament, does and wethers are pretty much equal. Although if you had one or two does and decided you did want milk in the future you could find a buck to rent, you couldn't do that with a wether.
     
  10. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank you! This answered a lot of my questions. Pretty sure hubby wants to go with sheep at this point so it's good to know they will eat some brush. One last thing, anyone know if I can house them with the chickens? Not in the coop of course, but could they share the same run?
     

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