Travis Johnson wrote:I am not from MN, but I am curious as to why you have chosen hair sheep. I realize they do not need to be shorn, but there are a plethora of reasons to have woolies. I used to have Katadins (a hair sheep breed), but ultimately had to sell them off as heir liabilities outweighed their benefits. I do not want others to make the same mistakes I did.
Travis Johnson wrote:I wish others would join in on this because I don't want you to get advice only from me; no one here is smarter than all of us put together after all, and that includes sheep farmers. But atlas because no one is, I will chime in again.
I might check into 4H a bit deeper and see if the instructors intend to add sheep or not to the program if they don't already have it. I know 5 and 7 is not a good age to base future interest, but if it looks promising, it might change how I would approach getting a few sheep. I would definitely go with woolies, and I say that because your only reasoning so far not to is because of shearing costs. If you have 4 H lambs though, even hair sheep must be trimmed for the judges. If you are going to trim them (and your children learning how to trim) they minds well learn how to shear. Shearing for the show ring is much different anyway and the cost would be free for you. Instead of trimming, you would just put them on a stand and shear. Little, little difference.
And what I said holds true of the bigger breeds of sheep, they do well in the ring. You might have to take a trip a few hours away, but MN is LOADED with sheep farms. I am actually looking there for some breeding stock ewes for my farm.
As for a market, I know how you feel. I can sell 50 lambs or so locally, but most of my lambs get shipped down to new Holland, PA. That is about 900 miles away, but that is where the market is, so that is where they go.
As for improving your land, oh they will do that. Sheep LOVE weeds so they graze on them almost out of existence. Sometimes its good, like a patch of poison ivy I had...their favorite feed by the way...but sometimes not so good like a plot of raspberries we have had on this farm for generations. Yep, both grazed out of existence. Give sheep a few years and they will make an okay pasture into a great one. Their manure helps, it is twice the NPK of cows, equal to chicken litter and so is really good at fertilizing. A lot of people get goats thinking they will graze on brush and browse, but few people know that sheep love small branches and leaves too. They will clear out an overgrown pasture in record time...and sheep are easier to keep fenced in. Sheep go UNDER a fence, goats and cows go over, so keep a tight fence on the bottom and they will stay in.
I am biased I know, but I rally like having sheep. I am no expert by any means, but I will always have them around.
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