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

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GBov

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I LOVE it, you sound so good and happy.

Your bed sounds fab, I have only done one pillow so far and OMG the amount of wool needed to pack just a pillow makes a mattress seem an unattainable goal. :shock:
 

ohiogoatgirl

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Yes it's quite a bit. rhlindsey you can buy a lot for fair price, especially scoured wool which is what I'll need later to stuff it with wool for winter. But based on the wool I took to the mill today.. I'll want to order more than what I said above just in case.

YESSSSS the wool went to the mill!!!! *Happy dance*
Last minute plans changed last night and I had my sister come pick me up and crammed 90# of wool into her little civic car :x That was.. entertaining.. in the dark.. So I stayed at her house so it would be closer for my friend to pick me up and transfer the wool to her (larger) car and go. My house would be an hour+ out of the way. So whatever I crash at my sisters house and get scolded by her fat cat on my lap, quite upset that I was not sleeping and everyone else was in bed. :evil: But to no avail, and as usual I couldn't sleep and finally fell asleep around 5am.. And my sister woke me up while she was getting ready to go at 7:30am.. Ohhhh yesss 2.5 hours of sleep.. :|

The rest of the day was great. It was 3.5 hour drive there. My 10 packed bags and my friends 2 only full enough bags :lol: Of course we get to talking about wool and sheep. And me and my friend each is our own wool. Then hearing about their icelandics. Then of course covid and how it's affecting their businesses. Then into meat processors. I knew some people were planning way ahead just in case but wowww :shock: Apparently a lot of places don't have openings for processing until mid 2022! So if anyone is planning on taking animals you better make sure there is spots. So an hour and a half later the lady says hey what's the time because she had something she had to go do and me and my friends stomachs were growling in complaint.

So about 7 hours driving time and lots of really cool conversation. Large part of it about wool and sheep :mrgreen: I came home and right off to check on the sheep and managed to off a raccoon from the porch :happy: One down, too many left. Now I'm off to unconsciousness because I am dead tired :zzz:
 

GBov

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Sounds a brill and productive trip!

Mmmmm love raccoon meat. Used to use a VERY large trap for them in my yard as anything called a raccoon trap was designed by someone who has never actually SEEN an adult 'coon and how big they really get. :roll:

Marshmallows are a good bait with no cat bycatch. Chickens, now, yeh, they love marshmallows. :evil: :lol:
 

ohiogoatgirl

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Ok the wool is at the mill and expected back after halloween! Yay I'm so excited! This also means I need to keep occupied with grazing and breeding plans so I don't start counting down.. (*cough* 108 days *cough*).. With all the other things I'm catching up on hopefully that won't be too hard to keep busy!

Breeding- I've scribbled and scribbled. I think I've come to the final, or close to final, version of breeding groups for fall. The proven ewes will be CIDRed and in with Benny (BL). Two of the proven ewes will be in with Chonk (mini cheviot). All the ewe lambs will be with 87 (half meat/club cross of somekind). After the decided amount of time for the proven ewes to all be bred (should be bred anyway), *then* all of the proven ewes will be with Chonk til the end for possible clean up breeding. When they are moved then also Benny will be added to the ewe lamb and 87 group. The idea being to have both rams to cover the ewe lambs and have the best chance of them getting bred. This also keeps the ewe lambs from being bred by Chonk who is like a brick with legs (in the best way of course haha). Chonk will have plenty of breeding in the future but not with ewe lambs. At least not with what I have now.

2020
Benny- proven ewes/ ewe lambs clean up.
Chonk- two proven ewes/ proven ewes clean up.
87- ewe lambs.

The idea is to do what's called rotational breeding. After this year the ewes will be sorted into groups A, B, C. The ewe lambs I keep will go into the next group with a different ram.
2021
Benny- group A
Chonk- group B
87- group C
So any ewe lambs I keep that are from group A get put into group B. Any kept from group B get put into group C. Any kept from group C get put into group A. This way if you follow offspring: 2022 Benny daughters, 2023 grand daughters, 2024 gr-grand, 2025 gr-gr-grand daughters moved to group A being bred to Benny. And the same goes for each ram. This way even if I kept and bred Benny for the next 12 years he would only have four cycles of his own gr-gr-grand daughters and they would only be 14.25% his genetics.

I'm also keeping 87 on as a 'to be determined' spot. He looks ok but I'm not real attached. I sold his dad and was really curious how he will turn out, and what his wool will look like. I also know next year and going forward growing the flock I need a certain amount of rams for an amount of ewes to get lambing to happen close together. We shall see how he fills out. If nothing else the neighbors are still bringing their couple ewes down to me for breeding so they go where I want :mrgreen: And next year I'd be real interested to put him to his mom and the other meat cross ewe. It'll also be a lot on how many ewe lambs he breeds and what those lambs look like. If it's a flop then he'll go to the freezer and I'll have got a fleece from him.

Speaking of.. I weighed all the sheep, all 30, on Sunday then Monday morning the 6 extra ram lambs plus 007 the yearling ram went to the auction. This weekend was jam packed I tell you what :flex: So I got fleece close ups and realized Midget, 99, and 79 (99s daughter) could all be shorn. Mid August will be the half way date between this year shearing early (jan 28) and next year probably shearing early to mid March. Midget and 99 have long, open fleeces. Midget does fine with a full year fleece. 99 however starts to become a mess and her fleece is either really tedious to work or a total loss. So given that 79 is long and open too, and also really soft, I'm going to plan on just doing those three myself. We will see how their fleeces are spring/summer versus summer/winter.

So now the flock is at 3 breeding rams and 20 ewes. Plus the late ram lamb who soon enough will be getting weaned from mom and put with the big boys. He will be my freezer lamb this year. I'm not sure if yall care about this stuff so feel free to let me know anything you'd like to hear more about.
Weights
Proven ewes:
Ayreshire 126#
Mary 121#
Kitty 83#
Lydia 78#
99 66#
184 108.4#
185 87.3#
Midget 88.5#
Ewe lambs:
72- 40.5#
74- 55.3#
75- 40.9#
79- 47.4#
80- 41.6#
84- 60.7#
89- 32.6#
225- 36.6#
228- 40.4#
229- 42.4#
230- 40.8#
231- 45.4#
Rams:
87- 50#
Chonk- 66.8#
Benny- 71#
88- 41#

Since I culled most of the shetlands and problem ewes, and my last weight for them was last year, the proven ewes average 95#. We shall see what the ewe lambs weights are in the spring after lambing. I hypothesize that 225-231 ewes will trend close to shetland weight because they look very shetland type. My ewe lambs I think will trend a higher adult weight like my current proven ewes.
 

GBov

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Sorry if I missed it and am asking a silly question but why did you cull the Shetlands?

As my dream breed of choice, I am wondering what was wrong with them? :shock:
 

ohiogoatgirl

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GBov":3q66s2ei said:
Sorry if I missed it and am asking a silly question but why did you cull the Shetlands?

As my dream breed of choice, I am wondering what was wrong with them? :shock:

Just like anything else, you get from a flock and you're going to get whatever problems that breeder puts up with. I didn't realize how single minded the breeders I know are to fine fleece. As long as it's shetland shaped, small ears, finer fleece! They do a lot of what I consider coddling that isn't going to happen here.
1) They don't keep track of who is having singles/twins. I'd bet their flocks have 90% singles. They haven't been tracking it and I think the single minded fine fleecers are losing the fertility of their sheep.
2) Intensive versus Extensive. My sheep are grazing and other than winter and end of pregnancy I cut way back on the grain. These animals are supposed to be heritage genetics to sustain themselves mostly on their own in shetland. A lot of the genetics in the USA have lost some key points :|
3) Another key point being worm tolerance/resistance. These pampered puffs were not ready to go out on pasture and be a sheep. They were older ewes (5-7y/o) and they all gained weight on pasture at first. After they lambed the ewes looked like hell. A couple kind of bounced back but the others gained back very slowly. Then again this year one looked fine but the rest looked like hell. I ended up losing one between wormings.
4) The fine fleecers I see have these little tiny sheep. Too tiny. Like Chihuahuas are small but a lot now are stunted and too tiny and impossible to breed and birth normally. The mule sheep website, about breeding BFLs to other breeds and that breeding scheme, says shetland ewes avg 80# rams avg 110#. Oklahoma state website has a big list of breeds and for shetlands it says ewes 75-100# and rams 90-125#.
:| None of these flocks seem to have sheep that get that high. Mature weight is considered 2y/o, then they keep growing some until they die. I got three ewe lambs and their 2y/o weights were 45-60# and they were all narrow. Their hips are small and dainty. The older ewes were 60-90#. Of the three flocks I know I can tell you that the fluffy, medium micron fleeced sheep are the ones with body and size to them. And they are being culled hard.
Basically like how netherland dwarfs show standards is the little petite does but most breeders have their ol reliable BUDs (big ugly does) that don't fit standard and may have missed the dwarf gene but make great babies. Except shetland breeders are focusing entirely on small, small ears, fine fleece. I mean rivaling merino fine.
if you scroll back to the way long post :roll: the lambing section with the warning. I lost one of the first timers who was a 2 year old because she was way too small. The lambs are tiny and any that aren't tiny cause big problems. I mean 3-4# birth weight, would probably fit into a 5# sugar bag. My ewes average 8# birth weights. From 5-12# spread. Commercial breeders consider 10# average and anything smaller than 9# is worrying. For comparison.

Also I just don't like the fine fleeces that they are getting. It's impossible to process by hand, too fine. And they are very careful who they send it to for milling into roving/top because if you don't process it carefully like really fine wool then it shreds and breaks apart the fibers. The fleece weights are ridiculous. 3# max right off the sheep. Then you lose in skirting and washing. I have a friend buying the two shetland rams fleeces, 1.4# each skirted. Nope. Not for me.

I'm going for medium to fine wool but with usable length. The sheep are better, I can process the wool myself or easily have it milled. Fleece weights are 3-6.5# right off the sheep. With the new rams I'm hoping to improve that. As well as having sheep that actually have meat on their frame and grow quickly for some market lambs.
 

GBov

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Ah, that explains it. Breeding for only one trait and letting all the rest go to hell is why dairy goats are as delicate as orchids now. :evil:

I am carding Shetland wool right now (one of the blue shades, the name escapes me :oops: ) and it is lovely but then again, Shetland sheep are nothing special in the UK, just one more breed in the bunch to choose from so I guess breeders are keeping them more the way they started, nice soft wool on hardy beasties.

Breeding for what YOU want and need in a wool flock - and a meat bonus - should always be the goal, good on ya! :D <br /><br /> __________ Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:01 am __________ <br /><br /> 100% Shetland wool, wet felt with an overlay of needle felting.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/8tGFGjqAqFKWp1JZ7

One day, perhaps, it will be wool from my own sheep but until then I will live vicariously through your flock. :lol:
 

Psybird

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man, thanks for posting so much over the last year! this information is invaluable for someone thinking of getting into sheep breeding in the next 5-10 years. that processing time for meat kind of shocked me, 2022?!
im starting to think my idea of starting up a mobile butchery once i move out of california wasnt such a bad idea after all.
 

ohiogoatgirl

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Ya GBov I'm seeing it in all animals just different trends of breeding for a specific thing.

Psybird Yes mobile butcher setups were talked about in that conversation as well. The U.S.Duh (haha joel salatin reference there) is going to have to pull the stick out of its own back end and get moving, we just cannot have stagnant rules in a world that's always changing. I really hope it starts catching on, it's been needed for years anyways now it's make or break though.

__________ Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:22 am __________

*Slams hands down on table*

The sheep...

Are in the field...

July 30 the rams were moved from the yard to the field. July 31 the rams were moved to the next section and I planned to move the ewes over to the first section. The first section is started near a tree at the spot closest to my permanent fence, where it is easiest to create a 'hallway' of fence on one side and netting on the other. Except I have just enough netting. So the last bit of about 20ft had net on one side but moves up to the field, away from the permanent fence. So I set it up with about ten step in posts and the roll up wire with 4 strands across it. I've tried to divide big paddocks with the roll up wire and the sheep don't respect it. So I wanted Dad to go out when I moved the ewes to stand at this 20ft section and just watch. This way the ewes see him, seeing them, and should leave it alone for the easy option of following the open 'hallway' to the nice field of grown forage. There I was all ready to go and Dad puts on his puppy eyes that we should wait til tomorrow because it's supposed to start raining then rain for ten hours straight. :? Ugh fine, tomorrow...
So of course, we got about twenty minutes of rain and that was it...

Aug 1... Everything is ready to go. I'm going to get the feed bucket and lure the ewes into the 'hallway' and close the gate so they can't run back into the paddock, they can only come back the 'hallway'. Here I go to the gate and all the ewes are piled up bellowing at me. Open the gate. Out comes every one! :| Close the gate. They wander down the 'hallway' but there isn't much to nibble because it's the edge of the yard, where the rams had been and eaten it all down.. They wander down to the creek.. Cross the creek.. Mill around just on the other side.. :|
Mind you I am still standing up at the gate and haven't moved. They are now 2/3rds the way to where they need to go. Dad is fiddling around and poking his way over to the 'hallway' and where I wanted him to 'stand guard'. I stand there watching :frypan: trying to hurry him up with the force and panicking to myself that any second the ewes are going to dart out through the roll wire section... Finally Mr Magoo is to the netting and crossing over the 'hallway' to stand on the roll wire side! I walk down and scoot the ewes the last little way into the netting paddock, put the net back to close it up, and take the biggest deep sigh ever!

Now both other times I've moved the sheep through this same 'hallway' setup, in exactly the same way, the sheep act like they have never been moved to a new paddock before and dart around like lunatics. One will finally go through the gate where you want them, most will see that one and follow, about a third will bound off down the fence line away from said gate bawling it's head off... Finally get them all through, go to close the gate to keep them from backtracking, only for a few to see me and rush back through it before I can, like a deer you watch cross the road only to make it to the edge only to turn around and go back to the other side. :|
Needless to say Dad thought it was the best thing ever :roll: And he is so sure that the sheep are learning if they follow the 'hallway' there will be fresh pasture for them... I have my doubts but that would certainly be nice...

So there we are! Yesterday I took the netting which had previously made up the 'hallway' and setup the new section of pasture. Move the rams into it. Move the ewes into the section that the rams just left. Now I'll take this section that the ewes left and setup the next one in front. With the 4 rams in front they don't make much of a dent in the grazing. After the ewes though it's all eaten or trampled. If the ewes were first there wouldn't be anything for the rams. With this size sections setup and the amount of sheep I'm going to move them every other day, so two days grazing per section. It's mostly to do with the forage quality and quantity. They eat quite a bit but trample a lot. There is only some QAL still standing where the ewes moved off. I'm happy with how it looks. I want to improve this field and in all my researching the optimal way to do this with grazing is to have the animals eat the top of the plants then trample a bunch then let it rest.

There is different ways to go about it but I'll try to do a condensed explanation. I think there is only a few people here, as I recall, who have other livestock but I think some are hopeful potential farmers. So here goes for anyone interested :lol:

~Graze half, leave half. ~Take the top third.
These are the two main 'rule of thumb' that I see. Grazing changes so much depending on the time of year and what kind of pasture or crop you're grazing etc. But this is a good place to start. This rule serves several purposes.
*Parasites are mostly on the first couple inches from the ground of grass/forage. If you are always grazing short then you are also always making your animals ingest parasites. Even with optimal weather and staying off an area for a long time.
*All plants have a height where they can quickly recover from. You want to leave that height of plant there so that the land and forage can always have it's 'safe zone' left alone that it can rebuild from that foundation.
*Plants are each like a solar farm to itself. The leaf area of a plant is it's solar panels. If you take all the solar panels it takes a long time to rebuild and get back to producing. If you take some solar panels and leave some solar panels then it will rebuild more solar panels much faster.
*Plants have a cycle of how fast they grow and how nutritious they are. Little baby grass hasn't learned to walk yet and goes slow. Teenage grass is growing fast and very nutritious. Retirement grass is going with the flow, it's seeding out and ready to relax because it's job is done, and the nutrients have been pushed to the seed head so it's not as nutritious. I highly recommend watching some videos from Joel Salatin, he speaks very eloquently and straight forward, and explains that better than I probably did.
Point being, the more you manage the forage to keep it in the teenage grass stage, where it grows fastest and has the most quality, then the more grazing you can get on the same amount of land.

Another complexity of grazing is what kind of grazing you do. Yup, take a moment, there is more grazing management than a building, fence, gate, livestock. ;)
*Continuous grazing: This is your classic field that always has animals in it. Whether it's a few animals on a few acres or a lot of animals on hundreds of acres. The animals always have access to the entire thing. They have favored spots and spots they never go on. There is weedy inedible areas overgrowing. There is tasty favorite grass that is always eaten down to the crown. There is dirt patches that used to be tasty favorite grass areas.
*Rotational grazing: Technically all it means is the animals do move. It might be fifty cows alternating between two fields of a hundred acres. It might be five pet goats on two paddocks of one acre. I might be twenty sheep on ten acres split into fifty paddocks. Any moving of animals to keep them off some land for a period of time is an improvement. The more you can manage the animals to contained areas and off of some areas, the more improvement in forage and soil quality you can affect.

*Paddock shift: Technically this is very similar to rotational grazing except to say there is X many paddocks and I move the animals every X amount of time. Whether that be the cows on two fields being moved every six months.. The pet goats being moved every two months.. The sheep being moved once a week..
*Mob grazing: More than one species of animal grazing the same area, at the same time. Also, multi species grazing.

*High density grazing: A rotational grazing system where you are watching an amount of animals at a certain total weight per acre. For example, the fifty cows on 100 acre field would be 50x1500#=75,000# /100acre= 750# of cow per acre.
If the farmer took his 200 acres and further divided it into ten 20acre fields and move them more.. 75,000# /20acre= 3,750# of cow per acre. Now he has the same amount of cows but more impact with what they graze and where they poop. Now instead of wandering 100 acres they are confined to 20 acres and are forced to eat more variety and not just go searching for the candy. They also will poop more evenly across the land.
Let's say the farmer wants the cows on the fields equal amounts so he moves them every 18th day. (20 fields x 18 days= 360 days). Now each field gets grazed for 18 days and gets a rest for 342 days. The farmer could easily move the cows twice as often. 9 days grazing, 171 days rest.

*Ultra high density grazing: There is this kind of scale of how much of an impact your grazing has at different levels of total animal weight per acre. The more total weight, per section of land, with more moves... The more of an impact you make. Now of course if you aren't paying attention you can mess things up badly just as much as you can improve things greatly doing it right. Different climates, different soil types, different livestock, different times of year,... There is a lot of different ways to impact the land to accomplish different needs.
Going back to the cows... Let's say the farmer has the same 50 cows and 200 acres. He uses 5 acre paddocks and moves every day. 75,000#/5acre= 15,000#/acre. He can use bigger or smaller paddocks and move them faster or slower. Depending on the forage and weather. Maybe the weedy overgrown areas he makes 1 acre paddock and moves them twice a day. 75,000#/0.5= 150,000#/acre. He would really beat the heck out of the area. The cows will tromp around to find some goodies among what they don't like and knocking the weeds down and stomping them. Also being in such a small space for half a day they have to poop in that confined area too. Now the farmer could easily walk around and throw out some seed to start taking back the weedy area.
The sort of scale I have seen is:
Below 10,000#/acre- very low impact
10,000-50,000#/acre- low impact, better grazing distribution
50,000-100,000#/acre- some impact, much improved grazing distribution
100,000 or more #/acre- ultra high density

What I'm doing is aiming to break into the high density grazing. The current total flock weight is 1,512#. That's a fair bit lower than 10,000#. However. :mrgreen: Using the netting to retain the sheep to a small area at a time I can start to get higher impact than if I had them on a bigger area.
My current netting setup is about 75x89ft= 6,668sq ft or 0.153acre. It takes 6.5 net sections to make an acre. Therefore.. 1,512x 6.5= 9,828#/acre
I already have strips mowed on this part of the field to setup the next several sections. I'm going to evaluate this part of the field then. I'm considering mowing the rest of the strips differently. If I setup the nets another way I could make long rectangle sections about 25x139ft= 3,493sq ft or 0.08acre. It takes 12.5 net sections to make an acre. Making it 1,512x 12.5= 18,900#/acre. The sheep would be moved every day instead of every other day, being just over half the size of the current sections.
Also since this field is 5 acres, and another acre above the terrace, one full rotation to cover it all will put it at Oct 18th. I'm going to breed in November for April lambs so that gives me two weeks in the lower part of the field to cover again before breeding groups.

__________ Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:22 am __________

I have a TON to update we'll see how much I can fit here.

Shearing is Jan 30. Thirteen days. I'm not prepared. Shearing happens every year, and every year I'm running and juggling and kerfluffle-ing. Thankfully what needs done isn't all that much. I just feel better mentally/emotionally if I can do a few things at a time, over time, to be ready ahead of time. Rather than doing ten things a day for four days leading up to shearing. The weather may turn wet and/or snowy. I have a bale set next to the barn, ready to be hand rolled in to feed the sheep during their lock up to keep them dry before shearing.

Breeding seemed to go fine. Chonk got the proven ewes and biggest ewe lambs for about a week. With the CIDRs the proven ewes should have all cycled and bred at that time. That week 88, the retained ram lamb, got the rest of the ewe lambs. After that until the end of the month (october) they were all together for breeding. 88 did not fill out as much as I'd have liked, especially for how nice he looked when he was younger. He filled out like a shetland rather than his cheviot side. Beautiful fleece though. 88 did very little ewe chasing so I'm expecting Chonk to have sired most of the lambs. That's fine with me.

87 & Benny you ask? :| Well... 87, died suddenly from what I'm putting down to parasite load. Later Benny did as well. I later learned that the breeder keeps a small drylot for their sheep. They rarely get out to graze some yards and fields. And once again I have paid handsomely for a ram of a breed that was not raised in the way of it's standard. And once again the breed standard can tout anything it wants, that does not magically make all the sheep of that standard. And breeders don't feel the need to share that they are kept dry lot and have no parasite resistance. Even after many messages back and forth that I'm breeding for land based animals that eventually will only graze all year long with no bought in feed.
It has been difficult. It's been no small amount of money down the drain to feed worms in the ground. I have adopted some new standards of my own of what I'm allowing myself to buy in stock in the future, but that's a ramble for later on.

So October breeding makes for lambing due date as early as Feb 23. The ewe lambs could lamb any time from 2/23 to 3/26. The proven ewes should lamb 2/23-3/4, or if bred the second cycle lamb 3/15-3/24. However with two ram lambs, mostly taller ewes, and skittish unknowing ewe lambs... I was noticing alot of interest at the fence line. I decided to throw the rams in again Dec 15-Jan 7. Due 5/11-6/3. This was not the original plan. However, March 30 is a special sheep and goat sale at the big auction. Depending on how many there are and which ones left then I can decide to take and sell them as bred ewes. Get the money and not have to worry about lambing more.

I have more rambling to do on the goals with the sheep however I need to do some other animal rambling now.
CHICKENS! I'm getting ready to put in my order for early March chicks. Did I say chickenSSSS? Plural? You bet! 75 actually!
25 Freedom Rangers, red feathered meat birds.
25 brown egg layers assorted breeds, hens.
25 heavy assorted breeds, roosters.
Why on earth do I need 75 chickens when I've only myself ever raised 5 banties myself? Because I'm crazy? Maybe partly that... But honestly I don't. The layer hens will all stay, excepting any not thrifty or not up to par. 5 of the freedom ranger hens will stay on for experimental breeding. 5 of the very best of the rooster assortment will stay on as the lucky breeding roosters for my breeding. The rest of them will be butchered. I'll be trading some as meat with family. We won't be short on meat that's for sure.

What else is meat? HOGS! Just in case there was any benefit of the doubt as to my insanity... I'll be getting 3 feeder pigs to be butchered out in the fall as well as 2 gilts (females) that I'll be raising to become breeding sows. I have several acres of woods they'll be helping me sort out underbrush. I have cover crop seed to broadcast behind them that will make the second round more nutritious for them and help outcompete the weedy/brushy plants I'm trying to clear out. How well it goes will help me turn these areas into silvopasture the sheep will be able to graze as well.
Part of the hogs training to the electric fence will be inside my permanent sheep fence. As they are moved I'll be planting the rabbit forage 'gardens' behind them. <br /><br /> __________ Thu Jan 28, 2021 1:57 am __________ <br /><br /> Chicks have been ordered and paid for. Decided on shipping date of 3/29 and 3/30 so be here early April. This means lambing will be past and I'll have a month to get them settled before possible late lambing more in May.

The neighbor's farrowing early March so that puts me at starting the piglets either early April to May depending on when he's planning to wean and sell them.

I have more to share but I'm recovering from bronchitis, courtesy of the lil nephew from all my babysitting time. Of course the week before shearing. So I'm finally ready for shearing which will be Saturday. Fingers crossed the snow holds off til Sunday. The weather forecast changes every time I look at it.
 

NewZealands4Lyfe

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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!!
 

ohiogoatgirl

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NewZealands4Lyfe":1pb0ieed said:
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/
 

ohiogoatgirl

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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.
 

GBov

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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: <br /><br /> __________ Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:28 am __________ <br /><br /> I was wondering though, are they shorn this time of year or is the shearing day post talking about last summer?
 

ohiogoatgirl

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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.
 

GBov

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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.
 

Psybird

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GBov said:
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:
/quote]

i have to ask because those prices seem ludicrously cheap to me in america, are those prices for a whole fleece or by lbs?
im not as well versed in how wool is sold normally (my damn sheep production college course didnt go over that LOL) so i can only go off of what ive seen with the sellers ive been able to find in america. on average a spin-able wool is about $8.50-$11 per pound
 

GBov

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Psybird":18utg2gv said:
i have to ask because those prices seem ludicrously cheap to me in america, are those prices for a whole fleece or by lbs?
im not as well versed in how wool is sold normally (my damn sheep production college course didnt go over that LOL) so i can only go off of what ive seen with the sellers ive been able to find in america. on average a spin-able wool is about $8.50-$11 per pound

That price was per whole, unwashed, fleece. The lowest price I have found so far but I never pay more than ten pounds each for the fleeces I buy. There are better quality fleeces for higher prices but as I am felting rather than spinning, my needs easy to meet with lesser quality wool.

But I can buy live Shetland sheep for the shocking price of less than fifty dollars each so its no wonder wool is so cheap.

Am really glad it is so cheap though, it lets me play with all different kinds of wool. :D
 

ohiogoatgirl

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This post as of now has 4444 views! :mrgreen: :popcorn:

Not much to update here. I'm losing my mind waiting for lambs. Feb 25 Lydia had the first lamb on a nice sunny day. White single ram lamb. March 1 at midnight 184 had a big single ram lamb. White again. Both have the cheviot look. I find it quite handsome. The boys are ornery and scamper around and the ewes will bellow for them now and then. Sometimes the rams will get into "lamb zoomies" and then the whole lot of the ewes join in and run and bounce. Being as round as they are some of them is more funny to watch then others. Mary in particular has such a funny personality and being of the biggest sheep, height and weight, she manages to a big goober and clomps around like an oaf but is doing vertical lamb hops... :shock: She's always a character :roll:

March 15-24 should be the second cycle for the proven ewes. 99 is STILL fumbling around like a big barrel shape she is. Big udder. Jiggly back end. Looks more miserable by the day. But no goo on her back end of any kind, I check every day, otherwise I'd be past worried that something was wrong. But no. Just huge so far. This leaves 6 proven ewes still due. And all 12 ewe lambs. They all look round like they're bred. Nothing for udder development though. They can bag up and lamb in a hurry though. :roll:

My worry now is I shouldn't have put the rams in a second time!!! UGH!!! BAD ME!!! Now I'm worrying that if they don't all lamb before the end of the month then they'll be due May 11-June 3. :evil: At the end of gestation you raise the feed for the last part because it's the bulk of the growth happening and the ewe developing udder which can make or break milk production. However too much feed too early in the pregnancy can make big fetus before that growth push. Which makes for big lambs! :eek: And not ideal for first timers who aren't as big themselves.

Well... One week left and definitely by April 1 I'll know anyone not lambed will be due in May :|

Oh, I nearly forgot! Chicks! I have 75 chicks coming in. 25 on April 1 and 50 sometime after that. I'll have to come back to tell ya more on that though. I don't have enough brain juice to sound intelligent at the moment...
:insane:
 

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