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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!
 

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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
 

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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
 

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!!
 

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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 :)

Vertebrate Sheep Mammal Sheep Pasture

Vertebrate Mammal Bovine Bison Terrestrial animal

Mammal Vertebrate Sheep Sheep Canidae
 

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Aw! I kind of want some Shetland sheep now :3 They're super cute!
 
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they can be "rooed"

What does this mean please?

.....says another sucker who suddenly fancies keeping some Shetlands...
 

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There are actually a bunch for sale in my area! geez... I am the biggest gomer ever -.-

Is 100$ a reasonable price for a one year old ram? What about an ewe?
 

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they can be "rooed"

What does this mean please?

.....says another sucker who suddenly fancies keeping some Shetlands...
I thought that when I saw it written lol. "Rooed" is the term ("rooing") for basically pulling the fleece off by hand. They shed (some more than others) unlike most modern breeds so you time it with the break in the fleece (when the old fleece is pretty much out, though obviously still attached) and the new fleece is coming in) and just do it by hand. Obviously much better than shearing since you have no second cuts and the rooing is "perfect" unlike even the best shearing job.

ROOING

(this sheep doesn't seem to be a fan of having several people do it at once haha)

I guess I shouldn't tell you guys how absurdly easy and "cost efficient" they are, esp compared to the horses we are all used to!
 

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^xD That sheep looks a lil sad.

You can use wool for like... knitting, right? /Zexious is a dumb city girl
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks everybody! I appreciate all the great info! As far as I understand from reading the 4H manual, there are "Market" classes and "Breed" classes, so she won't be being judged for meat the way I'm reading it. Very interesting about rooing them. I had never heard of that. So, a couple more questions...

1. Do you shear lambs? I know Shetlands are slower growing, so the first year I have my lamb (like if I get one this spring) will I need to shear (or roo) them or will they not produce enough wool by then?

2. Is trimming their hooves a hard thing to do or is it fairly simple?

3. Also, what fencing would be good? The horses have electric fencing that is several inches off the ground and Ashkat mentioned that the babies are rather small. Does electric fencing keep them in? I've heard it will not keep goats in, but I'm not sure if that's true. We do have some leftover horse fencing, we could probably use. Or what about "cattle" fencing?

4. About how many flakes a day would one eat? Even though we have pasture, it is limited and will mainly be used for the horses so I'd probably feed hay most of the year.

Thanks again for all the helpful information and the pics and websites!
 
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There are actually a bunch for sale in my area! geez... I am the biggest gomer ever -.-

Is 100$ a reasonable price for a one year old ram? What about an ewe?

LOLOLOL

Depends if they are registered or not. Unregistered I sell wethers for $50 and ewes for $100+, registered you are looking at $150+. I am definitely cheap for my area, both for Shetlands and for sheep overall. I am also absurdly picky about who I sell too :p. Of course quality is a huge consideration. In this breed most quality animals are registered. Unregistered are usually culls from a registered herd/pets. It's not a breed where there are millions of them and registration is pretty much non existent, it's a very small population and the majority are registered and belong to breeding herds. While there are plenty of small time "breeders" (have <5 sheep, lambs now and then, etc) I would be wary of anyone that actually called themselves a breeder and had an unregistered flock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There are actually a bunch for sale in my area! geez... I am the biggest gomer ever -.-

Is 100$ a reasonable price for a one year old ram? What about an ewe?
From what I've seen so far, $100 would be pretty cheap. I've called a couple of different breeders and $200-$300 seems to be the average around here. One breeder said anywhere from $125-$450 depending on quality. If you just wanted one for a pet, I'd think $100 would be a pretty good deal.
 

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^xD That sheep looks a lil sad.

You can use wool for like... knitting, right? /Zexious is a dumb city girl

lol yes. You spin it and can do what you want. You can also felt it, though that is usually reserved for lousy fleeces. Shetland wool is renowned for it's quality and is much sought after by handspinners (think small time individuals doing it for fun). They make lots of VERY fancy things out of Shetland wool (on the Shetlands Islands, though of course people do here too), the standard being shawls that are so fine you can run them through a wedding ring. It (as all wool) is very warm, but can be very fine, so you can make lightweight sweaters. Google it :)

Shetland Knitwear: hand knitted traditional and contemporary knitwear > Products > Everest
 

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Thanks everybody! I appreciate all the great info! As far as I understand from reading the 4H manual, there are "Market" classes and "Breed" classes, so she won't be being judged for meat the way I'm reading it. Very interesting about rooing them. I had never heard of that. So, a couple more questions...

1. Do you shear lambs? I know Shetlands are slower growing, so the first year I have my lamb (like if I get one this spring) will I need to shear (or roo) them or will they not produce enough wool by then?
No. I would assume you would be getting one a few months old so it would be in the summer. You don't need to shear a baby. Shear for the first time as a yearling then again annually. If there is an issue you can shear out of cycle but there isn't really a reason to for the most part. I (my mother) did shear a lamb this year. Our shearer came very late (end of July? don't remember) and it was VERY hot and we have a VERY fluffy lamb (several months old at that point) that he offered to shear and my mother said yes. I probably wouldn't of, but whatever. She is double coated (read-super long fast growing heavy fleece) and a few months later was once again longer than the other, non sheared lambs her age. The lamb fleece is the nicest and therefore the most valuable.

2. Is trimming their hooves a hard thing to do or is it fairly simple?
I find it fairly easy. Sort of like dog nails. You can clearly see where you are supposed to cut. Of course it's better to do little more often if you aren't sure than go crazy and take too much off. Have someone show you and practice a lot, and you'll be good to go. You can buy special trimmers or use pruning shears provided they're sharp enough. I would suggest learning how to sit them down, though if you're getting one or two you could train them to pick up their feet (fronts are easy, backs not so much so I've never bothered).

3. Also, what fencing would be good? The horses have electric fencing that is several inches off the ground and Ashkat mentioned that the babies are rather small. Does electric fencing keep them in? I've heard it will not keep goats in, but I'm not sure if that's true. We do have some leftover horse fencing, we could probably use. Or what about "cattle" fencing?
Depends on the electric. Sheep electric, yes. They do need to be trained to it and I would NOT use it for rams (horns) and personally would not use it unless supervised. Babies (little ones) will go right through it. Pictures of your fencing? I assume most of the fencing you're thinking of would not work. Zoom in on the bottom picture I posted to see what we have. Here's another pic (excuse the crappy pic, look at the fence :p)


It's (completely guessing) about 4 feet high (they jump, don't get a two foot fence!) and metal mesh say 2x4 inch rectangles. Again, guessing at numbers but to give you a general idea. We did use the same fencing for our goats. I would not use any other kind of fencing. Ours are kept in a relatively small area so fencing is important. We do have electric mesh as a portable fence. It works "ok" (if you make sure it's on which is a pain) and I would not consider it as a permanent fence. Definitely not in a small space or with lambs. Our fencing works well for how we use it. We have lambs and adults to keep in, and wild animals to keep out! (Speaking of which, ours are ALWAYS shut in at night due to predators, something to think about relative to your area). Shetlands are smart, independent, and agile, they will do what they want.

4. About how many flakes a day would one eat? Even though we have pasture, it is limited and will mainly be used for the horses so I'd probably feed hay most of the year.

Thanks again for all the helpful information and the pics and websites!
Sounds like we are in the same boat as far as feeding goes. Obv the answer depends (as does the definition of flakes) but on average my adults get 1-2 (probably more like 1-11/2) depending on size. We do grain on occasion as we breed but if you are just having pets they shouldn't need it.
 

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Rereading my post I wanted to make a point. A large part of the issue with electric is 90% of the sheep is invulnerable to electricity. Sounds funny but if the fence touches wool (most of the sheep!) the animal isn't going to feel anything. They basically need to touch their nose to get the point. (You may actually have a similar issue with a blanketed horse, picture that but worse)
 
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