Friday, March 28, 2014

Shepherdess Notes: The Right Way

After reading several sheep forums, I have come to realize that there are about 101 ways to raise sheep. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little...but there are many different management styles when it comes to raising sheep. There are definitely 101 opinions on how to raise sheep!

There have been many debates on some of these forums on several different topics. One being
Hair versus Wool Sheep.
My opinion on it-who cares?  Raise what type of sheep you want!
Me personally, I love wool sheep. Wool is one of the reasons I started raising sheep.
For some, shearing is a costly, dreaded event so hair sheep may be a perfect fit for them.

What Breed is Best?
Ask a sheep person that question and you will get 101 answers!

According to Sheep 101, there are over 1000 breeds of sheep worldwide and over 40 breeds in the United States.
Pick one, or two, or three....
I think all breeds of sheep have their positive/negative. Choose the one that fits your farm. We have raised quite a few breeds here, none of them were terrible, but some didn't fit in well here with our management style. We raise Border Leicester because they FIT our farm!
Some people don't deal well with the Border Leicesters lively personalities, I love it! (most of the time)
We all have our favorites, that doesn't make them the best sheep for everyone.
Personally, you couldn't give me a Suffolk Sheep-they would probably die here, BUT Joe, the Sheep Farmer down the road may love 'em. That is okay! They have their place too.

There are many management styles, you have to find which one works for you.
What works here is grass not grain, pasture not barn, spring lambing not winter, etc..
You could visit the farm down the road and there methods could be the exact opposite.
Who is right?
We both are! We found what works for us!

I enjoy visiting sheep forums, sheep farms, and sheep symposiums.  Great places to share ideas, experiences, successes and failures. We don't all agree, what fun would there be in that?
One size doesn't fit all!

I have learned there is not ONE right way to raise sheep. There is OUR way to raise sheep, and that changes all the time.

Have a great weekend!

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  1. I guess like with all animals - horses, cats, dogs, etc. - there are breeds to fit every personality :-)

  2. My husband and I are in the process of selling land that just will not do what we need it to, to purchase a small farm in Kentucky where we know the climate will allow us the ability to raise what we want. We are having the debate of hair sheep vs wool sheep. Nasty carnivores that we are we love roast lamb! I knit and my mother and I used to weave and spin, we are not sure if that will work for Ralph and I. Border Leicester are in the top three breeds we are looking into! We are also looking into grass as the main source of feed for our sheep. I am very much enjoying your blog, it offers such a realistic source of information!

    1. Good luck with your move!!
      Sounds exciting.
      I am biased, but I think Border Leicester is a great choice!
      Thanks for visiting the blog and your sweet comment :)

  3. Sandy, good post/well said. And Lisa@Two Bears.... if there is a breed for every personality... then I definitely have a multiple personality disorder!!!! I have no less than 7 purebred breeds (no counting the hair sheep types) and many, many crossbred variations.

    1. Thanks!
      You have quite the sheep collection!!
      I am trying to limit myself to three :)

  4. What a great attitude. I think advice is always nice, especially when it is delivered in that way. It gets a little tiring hearing people talk about the 'right' sheep or the 'right' way to raise sheep. That is why we always say, 'Well this is what works for us...'.

    Hope you don't mind I shared this on my Facebook page. :)

  5. For an overall breed choice - wool, care, temperament, personality, beauty...I always recommend Border Leicesters :-). That being said, my favorite sheep in the barn and the one that's going to kill me when he's gone is a Hamp/Suffolk cross ;-).

    Cute, cute lambs as always!

    1. I am partial to Border Leicesters, but I am a little biased... ;)

      Yes, raising sheep can be hard at times :(

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  7. Well said Sandra..I was given some excellent advice at the start of my journey, I was advised to choose a breed that was aesthetically pleasing, knowing you are about to commit to a long term relationship with a breed of sheep and there are so many variations/nuance/preferences. While all sheep to me are cute on some level (lambs on all levels) it is apparent to me now 6 years later that other breeds might not garner the same emotional investment.
    That said, as you said, it's different for everyone :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by!
      I agree ALL Lambs are cute :)

  8. Well said, Sandra! The same goes for chickens. :)
    Thanks for linking up with the Clever Chicks this week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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