Who else raises sheep?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by therealshari, May 21, 2007.

  1. therealshari

    therealshari Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Beryl UT
    We have a small flock of Black Merino sheep. Right now we have 5 black Merino ewes and a black Merino ram. One of our ewes has a pair of twins with her and we'll be keeping her little white (spotted w/black) ewe.

    We also have a PolyPay/Merino cross ewe that is pregnant.

    Two and possibly three of our Merino's are pregnant with everyone due in late July.

    That will give us just enough time to get all the lambs into one pen and the ram separated. Right now, in addition to the twins in the big pen, we have two bottle babies (bummers) who are 78 days and 45 days old in a separate pen.

    Within the next couple of weeks, we'll be having everyone sheared so they're ready for summer. I know, we're the last one's in the valley to get this done. Gotta find a wool bag to store the fleeces and then figure out how to wash them and put them up for sale.

    If you have any tips or suggestions, let me know. I've got tons of pics and details on my blog.
     
  2. Chelly

    Chelly Cooped Up

    May 11, 2007
    I'm thinking of getting a couple of sheep - we're moving to nebraska in a couple of months, and my daughter (tiny as she is) wants a sheep!

    They look to be nice and mellow little things, are they easy to keep?
    (I need to find a friend for my horse, perhaps a sheep will do the trick!)
     
  3. lostinthewoods

    lostinthewoods Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2007
    Hayward, Wisconsin
    I dont have any sheep (yet) but am thinking about getting a couple. I enjoyed reading your blog btw shari.
     
  4. Alleyoops25

    Alleyoops25 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2007
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    I am a leader in 4-H and help alot of kids with their sheep projects. one family used a old wash tub to wash out thier wool. They use cold water and dawn dish soap. It works really well for cutting through grease. THen they just put it in th sun to dry. I dont really know if the is the "right " way to do this but it worked good for them. I never really messed with the fleece after i had them sheared, I usually just sold it as is. But after I went and sheared this famly sheep they took the fleece and did this.
     
  5. therealshari

    therealshari Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Beryl UT
    Thanks all!

    Chelly, we keep our little flock about 100 feet from our horse pen. Last year, just after we sent our "boys" off to market, our two yearling ewes went "walkabout" and headed directly to the horse pen. They couldn't get in, so we weren't real worried.

    Our horse gets all "undone" if he thinks there's a sheep problem.

    I wouldn't try to graze them together as the sheep will take the pasture down to nothing in no time, leaving the horse with nothing to graze on. If you want to graze them, set up some cross fencing and graze the horse for a week or so, and then the sheep for about half that time. It would be best if you could have four paddocks and only use two at a time.

    That way, you should be able to regrow the fallow paddocks and always have fresh pasture.

    Now, we don't do that here, as we don't have enough water to irrigate all the time, nor the pasture seed and appropriate fencing to make it all work. Nebraska has great pasture land, so you would have a great advantage.
     
  6. therealshari

    therealshari Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Beryl UT
    Lostinthewoods, thanks for the kind comment about the blog. I've found it to be the best way to keep all our friends and family up-to-date on what we're doing here.

    Before I got here, Bev and Cindy got started with sheep by being given a couple of "bummer" lambs. These are little one's who's mother rejects them. They may have health issues, or even a genetic problem, or maybe they are the smallest of mulitple births and the farmer will cull to twins.

    They originally had three boys. Paco was an intact ram whom they had wanted to raise as their stud. Unfortunately, he died suddenly at about 4 months of age of unknown causes. Taco and Wooley were both banded at birth and raised for market.

    In the meantime, they purchased Chiquita who is our big PolyPay/Merino cross. Following that, just before I got here, they also purchased "Merino" who is a pure-bred black Merino. After that, we were able to obtain a new ram, fully grown and proven... Aljinon. He's a 7/8 Black Merino-1/8 Suffolk and weighs about 250 pounds.

    Most recently, we were able to obtain the last four black Merino ewe's and a couple of offspring as our mentor is in the process of selling her farm and moving to Colorado without the sheep.

    None of our animals are registered with any association. We do have the pedigrees on a couple of them, though.

    To give you an idea of cost... our ram was $150 and each of the Merino ewe's cost between $50 and $75.

    Fence panels are about $20 a piece and this summer we're purchasing an additional 10 (we have 3 now) to enlarge our pen.

    We feed alfalfa year around and in the summer can get good stuff for about $125 a ton. Right now, we're buying by the bale at $9.00 per 110# 3-string bale. We estimate our annual alfalfa usage to be 12 tons, and cost to be about $1500.

    As you can see, there are considerable costs before we even think about how to market the animals or their fleece.
     
  7. therealshari

    therealshari Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Beryl UT
    Alleyoops25, thanks for the tip on the washtub.

    I asked Mom if she'd make me some "sheep coats" and she thought I was nuts... I know better than to ask if I can use her washing machine!

    I did find a site that describes the process for cleaning a greasy fleece using a washing machine... no agitation, but you can use the spin cycle.

    Our sheep have so much tumbleweed and hay embedded, I'm afraid this first go around will be an exercise in patience. Don't know if I'll be able to get them clean enough or not.

    I'll be on the lookout for a large tub and gallons of Dawn Liquid Soap.

    Sun drying may or may not be an option here as the wind blows every afternoon and raises the dust pretty good. On a really windy day, it blows the sand, too.

    One thing I know for sure... clean fleece brings a higher price.
     
  8. Varisha

    Varisha Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2007
    Last edited: May 22, 2007
  9. Alleyoops25

    Alleyoops25 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know exactly what you say about wind. it blows out here everyday it seems. But I would definelty use the dawn in getting thr grim out of the wool. THe wool they used cleaned up pretty well. Ane Like I told you that I never really messed with it , but I used to show sheep as a kid and noe teaching kids how to do the same. And Dawn dish soap is about the best thing ever when it comes to cleaning them up. My sheep always turn out a beautiful snow white color. You can also get a Metal wash tubs from Feed stores and like Country General and Murdochs. Any way make sure you let us know how it urns out? Oh, and I was going to ask if you had a spinning wheel?
     
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I used to spin and also had several Romney's. It's possible things have changed or are different in your area, but the people selling the fleece didn't usually wash the fleece. They would skirt them, but not wash them. That was the spinner's job to do. If a spinner didn't want to deal with a fleece, they bought roving.

    My closest encounter with tumbleweeds has been old westerns on TV. Gee, I thought the hay and straw were bad enough!
     

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