RachelM wrote:Still in the planning stages of my future survival homestead, and now I'm looking into sheep. I want to have a small dual purpose flock, with the following attributes in mind:
-Cold hardiness for harsh winters
-Good mothering instincts
-Good litter size
-Feed Efficiency/Good grazing instincts
So far I have only really singled out Icelandic Sheep, but I'm not familiar with many breeds enough to make an informed decision. The main focus would be on meat and some milk for cheese (I've never drank sheep's milk, so I can't attest to whether I want to drink it or not). A little wool is a bonus, but again takes a lot of effort to make usable. Any breeds you could recommend?
Sheep were the first `bigger`critter I added to the farm, something that my great-grandmother had on a huge spread, she ran 3000 head of them in southern alberta way back when and something that my grandparents had on their farm as well, my grandmother was a huge knitted but not something that my folks had, my dad hated them from working the farm etc.
So when I got my first sheep, I went with hair sheep, a nice meat and milk breed, I have since added in wool sheep, both of them are half Icelandic, I would never choose to get pure Icelandic, but as a blend, I don`t mind having some Icelandic.
I am personally not fond of the Icelandic Sheep, I have meet a number of folks and they really don't do it for me, plus I am aware of the health issues that a number of those breeders and owners have with the sheep. my current flock is a has katahdin, Icelandic, Canadian Arcott and Karakul, My main purpose of sheep for farm gate is meat and hides-pelts and horns, my main purpose on the farm is milk and wool..
Sheep milk is not really drank as is, its rich, you need to cut it with water if you want to drink it, but to use in drinks, cooking, baking or cheese or yogurt making its outstanding.. I have had a milk cow, milking goats and milking sheep and after ten years of working with the different ones, I am down to milking sheep only on the farm at this time.. I had a choice of adding a new milking nanny or a new milking sheep, went with the milking sheep.
Now, I know that somewhere in a book you have read that its a good thing that they can have three or even four lambs, and you will love it on the math on the paper and I know you will not believe me, but after you have had them for a few years and watched those extra struggle, be sickly and never thrive or have to raise x amount as bottle babies, come back to this thought.. never breed for more babies then the mother has teats!
I want twins on my sheep, I can stand the odd triple, and I don`t like to see a single on anything other then a first timer but when folks say.. this doe produces 3 or 4, I smile, nod and walk away.. I have learned its so not worth it in the long run.