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My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#31  Unread postby ohiogoatgirl » Sun Jan 31, 2021 1:04 am


NewZealands4Lyfe wrote:I breed a half and half herd, half wool half hair breeds. My hairs are Dorper, American Blackbelly and my ram this year is Katdahin. And my wools are a flurry of breeds. If you get super into your meat ewes I suggest looking into American or Barbados Blackbellys, They are a pasture ornament and they produce high-quality meat. It also takes the stress off of shearing in the spring as they naturally shed. The rams have insane horn growth, they average a full curl at 10 months, but they can also have polled genetics, it doesn't change anything, they just look a tad prettier with horns. I would be willing to answer any questions you have about meat sheep, My family has been raising them for generations!!


Yeah unfortunately I'm just glutton for punishment :mrgreen: Haha I love the wool so to me it is worth the work. I'm considering adding some hair sheep to see how they do, side by side, but probably won't be switching to hair sheep for me. Blackbellies are neat though!

__________ Sun Jan 31, 2021 1:03 am __________

Shearing day, shearing day, what can I say about shearing day?

I'm tired. I'm glad it's over for another year. Shearing day is simultaneously like all the excitement of Christmas but also super stressful making sure everything is going to be ready. It doesn't matter when you shear, unless you're full time in a barn, the weather is always going to do something. Get colder. Rain. Snow. There always seems to be some weather that needs monitored the full week before to make sure the sheep stay dry and the roads will be passable.
Earlier in the week it was dancing back and forth over warmer and rain then sometimes freezing. Then it was getting colder. Last night it was around 8*F so this morning as I ran around doing last minute stuff it was in the low 20s. It's forecast to start snowing tonight and maybe keep going for more than a day. Current forecast is about 6 inches, it was more. We shall see what we end up with. Current temp 28*F (feels like 20*). Tomorrows high is 33* (feels like 25*) and the same Monday. Tuesday high of 29* (feels like 18*). Then we hang out around freezing for a while.

The sheep will be eating more hay and spending more time in the barn that's for sure. Lambing could start as early as Feb 23. No notable udder development I noticed today, though I was busy. Tomorrow I'll be checking everyone closer and making notes on who has the possible paunch early signs of an udder. I'm thinking they will be lambing mostly at the end of the month. March 15-24 for the proven ewes. Maybe some of the bigger ewe lambs. But I think the rest of the ewe lambs either did not breed or bred in the second group and will lamb in May. Now I begin kicking myself. I don't want to lamb twice and have two different months where I run out to the barn at all hours. Let's hope the weather is pleasant in May and that I'll be in the tent by then. That would be much better. We shall see.

The past two years I've had a group of people from the spinners and weavers guild who were interested in coming to help and watch. The shearer gets a sheep, walks backward from the barn, the gate having a spring to keep it closed. He steps onto the shearing floor, sheep held with his legs, grabs the hand piece, yanks the cord, and away he goes shearing. When finished he turns behind him to pass off the sheep to my dad. Armed with blukote for any nicks and puts the sheep out through a small gate.
Now when the shearer turns to pass off the sheep is the time that someone picks up the fleece and lays it on the table nearby for skirting and quickly sweeps the shearing floor as the shearer walks into the barn for the next sheep.
When the fleece is laid on the table people can begin skirting it. Called skirting because most of what usually needs pulled off is the outside edge of the fleece. The neck, belly, and butt. The neck tends to be full of hay, and depending on the breed the wool on the face which is also short. The edges of the belly, and some breeds the belly is fully wooled and very dirty, will be shorter and dirty. The butt will be the least soft part of the fleece and is often kind of flattened and not great looking as this is where the sheep is sitting on the butt and sides of the back legs. Some breeds have fully wooled legs and that wool will also usually need discarded. Basically anything that you don't want in your product needs to go.
Once skirted the fleece goes into a clear trash bag. On a note card will be the sheep's name or ear tag number and the weight of the fleece. I have a hanging scale for weighing fleeces and lambs for record keeping. The bag is then set out of the way to make room for the next fleece. I like to also have a notepad and write a list as you make out the note card with the sheep and fleece weight. This way I can go down the list and put it in my computer in my records. Rather than digging through each bag. The list and tags is a good job for someone who wants to come watch but maybe needs to sit or doesn't like the busy job of skirting. This person can watch the shearing to get the name/number of the sheep and keep the right tag to the right fleece. If possible this person can also do the job of weighing the fleece, which gets the fleece off the table faster.

It seems so simple written out. However the shearer only takes a few minutes for each sheep. Everyone else needs to pace to the speed of the shearer. And everyone needs to do their best to be helpful but primarily not get in the shearers way. Being out of the way is the best help for them!

This year people were not interested in coming for shearing. Understandable. However shearing still has to happen. All the jobs still need done. I enlisted my boyfriend for help. I did most of the jobs myself. It got done. We all survived. I'm considering having my sister make me a shirt with her cricut machine that says "I survived shearing 2021" :roll:
So in reality what happened this year was the shearer did his job. Dad did his job. Boyfriend picked up the fleece and plopped it on the table for me. I tried my best to keep track of what fleece I was skirting and what sheep was being shorn, which would be the next fleece. I did the skirting with grateful but not terribly efficient help from boyfriend who dutifully, if somewhat apprehensive, removed anything that looked like obvious poop. After a few fleeces I said if he could bring the fleeces to the table and help me keep track of the sheep to the right fleece that's what I needed most. He continued to help skirt but seemed relieved. Did I mention my boyfriend is a city boy? :lol: He's barely been to a fair. His willingness to get in on my shenanigans is always educational :mrgreen:
Somehow I managed to write tags and copy it to my notebook fast enough to get the full list. Only twice I missed what sheep it was and had to figure it out as others were done. One was 184 and 185, which are half sisters and near identical even to me. I set aside the fleece until the other got to be shorn then knew which was which. The other was a ewe lamb, of the five I bought two are white. Luckily I had made a list on my phone of the ewe lambs numbers and what color they are. The other white one had already been shorn so I knew who it had to be.

Pre-shearing lockup to keep the sheep dry.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKkp-brpFoG/

Drooling over fleeces during lockup.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKfrbhiJ8Db/

Shearing action.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKsfpWlp0Ku/

post shearing nekkid sheep.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKsrmeyp0Zm/
Can I get back all that spare time I used to have?

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#32  Unread postby GBov » Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:01 pm


I LOVE your updates!

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#33  Unread postby ohiogoatgirl » Mon Feb 01, 2021 1:31 am


Thanks Gbov! I feel like I do alot of rambling here so glad to hear you're enjoying it.

Of the 8 proven ewes only 4 look round. No one has any kind of notable udder development. Unfortunately. I'll be watching them but right now they look like there won't be lambs until the end of March. I really need twins but looking back at pics from two years ago right after shearing there was alot of them who weren't that big/round and they were ewe lambs then. The only ones last year that really looked round were the shetlands and they're all gone except the one. And they likely show it more because they are smaller. Just found some video clips from shearing last year and most of them are not that round. The 4 right now are definitely more round than last year. Maybe they'll have twins? That would be great but I'm not counting til they'll born and alive. So I'm also thinking lots of singles and they aren't showing alot. Frustrating. But I'd be much happier if they all bred and get singles than not bred. Cross your fingers they start developing udders soon.
My notes have dates of when 5 ewes bagged up and they lambed 23 to 38 days from the date I noted their udders. Feb 23 is the earliest possible lambing date. 23 days from now. If they were going to lamb Feb 23-March 4 then they should have or quickly developing an udder. If they are going to lamb the second cycle March 15-24 that puts notable udder change around Feb 8-21.

Only the one ewe lamb is round, and she is barrel shaped like her mom so that isn't a for sure either. All of them have normal flat non-udders right now. They'll be the easiest to see change if they develop. Originally I was going to keep the best ones as decided after lambing. However if none of them lamb that takes out alot of my big deciding factors. I'll be keeping them on in hopes that they mature into ewes that will do well.

The ewe lambs kept from my sheep I'm pretty happy with. A few are not as nice looking as I'd hoped, now without wool to hide it. Still alot of the more lanky build instead of meaty and filled out. The favorite fleeces don't necessarily match the ones with the best body shape :roll: Of course. The five ewes I bought I was really hoping would fill out more but they are lanky as I should have expected. The big plus about them though is they are 1/4 border cheviot and that little bit closer to being not shetland. And knowing my friend will have more of this cross this year and I'll be able to get them at a good price... They will be able to give me better cross lambs and aren't as big of an investment. I can't buy the sheep that I want/need so I'm trying to decide the best way to breed for what I want and keep replacements that best match.

The friend that the 1/4 border cheviot (BC), 3/4 shetland came from. The lambs are from a 1/2 BC, 1/2 shetland ram she kept back from when she had a BC ram. She sold him almost two years ago I think. Their tiny shetlands have even tinier lambs and she thought his lambs were too big so she kept a son to use. Well she gave me the info of the breeder that the BC ram came from. It's 2 hours away but it would be well worth it. And if the price is good I could buy two rams from him for the price I'd be looking at to buy a ram lamb from the commercial breeder who is that far away too.

88, the ram lamb is not staying. I haven't decided on selling or eating him. But he won't be eating feed, costing me money for much longer. Chonk looks good. I can tell he will fill out more this year. His sire is over 100#. I need to get weights on everyone after lambing.

Today I picked through and washed three fleeces that I've had sitting around. I have... One alpaca fleece ready to wash. A bag of short lamb wool needs washed, to be used as stuffing. One bag of suri alpaca that needs picked through and washed. One full alpaca fleece that I hate and need to skirt it and find wool to go with it and send it to the mill because I'll never do it otherwise apparently.
Two fleeces from last year that I forgot about. They didn't 'go' with what was sent to the mill and the one I had taken to a show to try and sell. It's really fine and I don't want to process it by hand.
And now I have this year's fleeces. The bigger fleeces are on the shelves here in the craft room. The smaller fleeces are piled in the bathroom. I'm going to go through those first and start throwing stuff together to wash and decide what's nice enough to sell.
Can I get back all that spare time I used to have?

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#34  Unread postby GBov » Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:28 am


I get to live vicariously through you and your sheeps, no room still for any of my own. :(

Buying 6 Balwin Welsh Mountain fleeces ($3.50 each :D ) and just got 6 Herdwick ($10 each) and am trying to find some blue Shetland but not having much luck.

Buying fleeces and reading your posts will just have to be enough. :lol:

__________ Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:28 am __________

I was wondering though, are they shorn this time of year or is the shearing day post talking about last summer?

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#35  Unread postby ohiogoatgirl » Tue Feb 02, 2021 3:27 pm


GBov Shearing day was Jan 30. Last year was Jan 29. Year before that was March because I bred them later.
Shearing a month before lambing lets me see the condition of the sheep. I can see how big they are and if they are making an udder, which is one clue to when they'll lamb. Sheep that lamb in full wool get birth fluids all over their back end and tail wool. After a few days old the lambs are running all over and jump on the ewes. Ergo, everything the lambs run through ends up all over the ewes. The fleeces quickly become too much work to bother with, full of dirt and poops and dried birth boogers. And with all the wool there the lambs have a much harder time finding the teat. They can look like they are nursing but they will find a lock of wool and sucking on it. IF not caught in time lambs can starve to death because they look like they are really nursing.
Plus lambing a month before they aren't super full of lambs and uncomfortable. And closer to lambing the more important their feeding is and I don't want to be withholding food, hay, and water for 12 hours.

My sheep are seasonal breeds. The changing seasons brings on their cycle and they don't breed before October. Here most shetland breeders swear they can put the rams in September or October and they still don't have any bred before mid October. Based on counting back from lambing for the breeding date. But I've reliably bred in early October. I have a list saved that gives examples...
Short season (<4 months)- cheviot, leicester, scottish blackface, texel, shetland.
Medium season (4-6 months)- suffolk, hampshire, oxford, charollais.
Long season (6-8 months)- finn, romanov, dorset, rideau, rambouillet, polypay, ill de france, merino, rideau arcott, romanov.

Prime season, easiest to get ewes bred: fall equinox to winter solstice.
intermediate: winter solstice to spring equinox.
anestrous: spring equinox to summer solstice.
intermediate: summer solstice to fall equinox.

Short season breeds are pretty well stuck to the prime season only. Medium season breeds have more wiggle room at the beginning and end. Long season breeds have most of the year and very low breeding rate in the anestrous part of the year.
Can I get back all that spare time I used to have?

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Re: My crazy sheep idea- All the animal crazy, all the time!

Post Number:#36  Unread postby GBov » Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:52 am


Do they not turn into sheep-sicles? Brrrrr

Good to know though, one more thing learned BEFORE I do it myself!

Was pondering how nice it would be if human breasts did the sheep/goat thing of disappearing when not needed.

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