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poundinghooves 01-23-2014 09:56 PM

Sheep Questions (Especially Shetlands!)
 
I never knew Shetland Sheep even existed until a friend of mine got a Shetland Ram from another friend of mine. One look at Sam the Ram, and I fell madly in love! I've always wanted a sheep and Shetlands are the perfect size! I have two years of 4-H left, so I plan to buy a lamb this spring and show it this year and then as a yearling next year and then I'll breed it and let my little brother show the offspring, if it has a ewe. So I'm just wondering, does anyone have Shetland Sheep? I've heard they are really hardy and usually have easy pregnancies. Also, I will probably only be able to buy one, but we are getting a couple of goats this spring (or at least that is the plan) and I have heard that goats are OK companions for sheep. Anyone have experience with keeping goats and sheep together? Any advice on showing sheep? This will be my first year in the sheep project (I wasn't raised a stock show kid, unfortunately :D) and though I've showed horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, alpacas, poultry and even a guinea pig in 4-H, I know nothing about showing sheep. Has anyone ever milked sheep? I've heard it makes excellent cheese. If anyone has Shetlands, about how much wool do you get from them? Also, does anyone know of a good way to introduce sheep/goats to horses? My two minis lived with goats before, but I'm not sure how my pony would do. They wouldn't live in the pasture with the horses but would sometimes be turned out there to help eat weeds down. :D Any advice on sheep in general (but especially Shetlands) is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

TexasBlaze 01-23-2014 10:20 PM

Never delt with Shetlands but I breed and showed Hampshire in high school. My niece and best friend show now and I'm hoping to get into open shows with them after college. I'm not sure how your 4h works there but ask the ag teacher or the extension agents. Showing sheep isn't an easy task. Especially a ram. With ours you cannot show with a halter. Hands only. You might not have to do that with a breeder or a Shetland. If your showing market though I doubt a Shetland will place very well among the hamp/Suffolk or even the dorpers and South Downs. Shetlands aren't a meat sheep breed. They are a wool breed and need to be shown in wool classes of they are just outranked. Like showing a thoroughbred in a weight pulling contest designed for draft horses. Also sheep and goats do fine together! Have even been known to crossbreed! You would probably do better looking for a registered animal and heading off to open shows if you want a lamb worth showing however. Otherwise you'll just be wasting money trying to show in a market class

Yogiwick 01-24-2014 12:14 AM

I have a flock of Shetlands!! So exciting that you're actually asking! They are AWESOME!! I am not really a "sheep person" but these guys aren't really "sheep" they are a primitive breed and are much different mentally and physically from what most people think of when they think of sheep. They are also super easy which is one of the things I love about them. Easy, cute, small, friendly, smart, independent (more "individual"). Definitely get some!! I'll make another post to answer your questions lol

Yogiwick 01-24-2014 12:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by poundinghooves (Post 4599594)
I never knew Shetland Sheep even existed until a friend of mine got a Shetland Ram from another friend of mine. One look at Sam the Ram, and I fell madly in love! I've always wanted a sheep and Shetlands are the perfect size! I have two years of 4-H left, so I plan to buy a lamb this spring and show it this year and then as a yearling next year and then I'll breed it and let my little brother show the offspring, if it has a ewe. So I'm just wondering, does anyone have Shetland Sheep? I've heard they are really hardy and usually have easy pregnancies. Also, I will probably only be able to buy one, but we are getting a couple of goats this spring (or at least that is the plan) and I have heard that goats are OK companions for sheep. Anyone have experience with keeping goats and sheep together?

I prefer not to keep goats and sheep together, however many people do so successfully. Make sure they get separate grain/minerals (remember, sheep have low copper tolerance). My largest concern with keeping animals together is the size difference, most goats (or other breeds of sheep) are much larger and I don't want the sheep getting bullied.

Quote:

Any advice on showing sheep? This will be my first year in the sheep project (I wasn't raised a stock show kid, unfortunately :D) and though I've showed horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, alpacas, poultry and even a guinea pig in 4-H, I know nothing about showing sheep.
I haven't done any showing at this point in time. As said, ideally you show Shetlands against other Shetlands. Unfortunately you need to be in the right niche for this. If you can't, at least try to show against other wool breeds. I don't know the details about how 4H works, but if you're against other meat breeds it's not really fair. Shetlands are known for excellent meat but it is not their primary focus (they are multi purpose, but of course used primarily for wool these days) and they are small and slow growing and don't have the attributes looked for in "meat" breeds. I wouldn't make showing your primary focus. You want to show them with a decent amount of fleece, not close cut like the meat breeds. Showing is pretty much get them clean, fluff up the fleece, and go. There isn't any prepping the way you see for other breeds, they are pretty much au natural. Cutest thing EVER was a 10lb spotted ewe lamb on a stool in a finals class with all the big guys. Typically you don't show them so small though lol. A GOOD Shetland judge looks at the sheep as a whole and primarily fleece, but a LOT of shows just have "sheep" judges not "Shetland" judges and they will be judged from a "meat" point of view, but as long as they are all the same breed it is what it is.

Quote:

Has anyone ever milked sheep? I've heard it makes excellent cheese.
No, I haven't. I have several very milky ewes though, it could definitely be a possibility. Of course, if that is your focus you should go with a milk breed.

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If anyone has Shetlands, about how much wool do you get from them?
Uh... I should know this... but I don't. I will say usually 2-4lbs doing some quick research. I'd say mine are probably on the heavier end of that, but there is a LOT of variety in the breed.

Quote:

Also, does anyone know of a good way to introduce sheep/goats to horses? My two minis lived with goats before, but I'm not sure how my pony would do. They wouldn't live in the pasture with the horses but would sometimes be turned out there to help eat weeds down. :D
My sheep area is right next to the horses main paddock. I threw them in. Horses freaked. Horses got over it, lol. They are fine. They just need to get used to each other. The sheep didn't care too much. I would just try to keep them next to each other, yet separate until they get used to it. Make sure they are OK when you put them out together. We put ours in the pasture (supervised, no sheep fence!) sometimes and there is plenty of room and no one cares, they stay far away from the horses. We do watch carefully cause if they do get too close the one guy with go after them, but they pretty much stay away.

Quote:

Any advice on sheep in general (but especially Shetlands) is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Hope I helped! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions!!

Yogiwick 01-24-2014 12:41 AM

http://i.imgur.com/KEaZSR1.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/gwrknho.jpg

http://www.shetland-sheep.org/

http://www.shetlandsheepinfo.com/

http://www.mrsf.com/ (the "original" Shetland sheep farm)

Ashkat128 01-24-2014 01:03 AM

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We have Shetlands and they're an excellent breed. We had mainly Suffolk and a few other commercial breeds previously but when we cut back we stuck to Shetlands... So much easier! We haven't had one that had any lambing trouble, almost all our ewes twin (one had triplets last spring) and they are excellent mothers.

We find they are the perfect size to handle and their horns make excellent handles if needed. They are hardier than most sheep breeds and live longer... We have a few breeding ewes around 10, still in great shape and great mothers. They get very wooly and unlike other breeds they can be "rooed" which is excellent for small time hobby farms looking to avoid sheering costs. Their wool growth has a natural slow point in spring leaving it more fragile at the base so you can literally gently pull it out.

Downsides? Where I am am they are not easy to find. The breed is considered rare and it makes it difficult to introduce new stock. They will mature slower than your standard commercial breed. Hmm other than that the babies are tiny! So hard to keep them in a fence.

We don't show or keep goats but if you have any questions feel free to message me if you like :)

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Zexious 01-24-2014 11:23 AM

Oh my goodness what the heck?! They're so cute!!

Definitely keep us updated on what you decide! I like their little faces 8>

Yogiwick 01-24-2014 08:29 PM

You want some too Zexious? :D

Zexious 01-24-2014 08:40 PM

Yes ;-; This forum is going to be the death of me, and what pushes me over the edge into animal hoarder status xD

disastercupcake 01-24-2014 10:06 PM

Aw! I kind of want some Shetland sheep now :3 They're super cute!


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