Travis Johnson wrote:
I was looking for some sheep handling equipment, and could not find what I wanted in the USA, but did in New Zealand and Australia and noted in those videos that they showed the equipment being used as they sprayed their sheep, and I was like, "huh, I guess they do that over there?"
The farm I work on used to do wool sheep a couple decades ago. Problem is, wool sheep are WOEFUL in our bioregion...
~ Our pasture quality is poor (even though it is quite lush due to grazing techniquss, it's lousy nutritionally), and the wool breeds don't cope well with that. This means we have to supplement feed, increasing price.
~ The wool breeds are stupidly vulnerable to parasites in our area. Internal and external. And the fly plagues that blow in from the deserts each summer will eat wool sheep alive, literally (dark and damp hideouts in wool = perfect fly brood habitat). This is where mulesing and sheep dip comes into play, just to keep the flock alive. There's still one paddock we can't use on the farm (we're certified organic now) because of the arsenic in the soil from those sheep dip days.
~ They get heat stroke in our harsh summers, even under constant tree shade and abundant cool water.
~ The wool sheep were lousy mothers- they would disown their young and wander off in rotational grazing systems, leaving the farmers with the extra work of trying to hand rear lambs or attempting to re-bond the babies with mum.
~ Good shearing hands are rare and get paid a lot of money. On top of that, you really need to find them enough work to keep them employed year round, or you risk losing them to another farmer who can offer employment stability.
All of the above points meant that keeping wool sheep in my area is really tricky to do in a cost-effective manner. Kinda like growing bananas in Antarctica- it can be done, but how much money are you willing to spend? We decided that having wool wasn't worth all the downsides, and the farm switched to african hair sheep breeds. For meat production only. Haven't looked back- those critters are absolutely perfect for our bioregion.
As for wool production? Alpacas actually do really darn well on our farm, and they double up as "guard dogs" for our sheep. Alpaca wool doesn't make me itch like sheep wool does, too.
Hmmm... organic, hypoallergenic alpaca wool... I could see that as a boutique product.
I guess all this ^^^^^ is a long way of saying "it depends". If wool sheep thrive on neglect (within reason) on your land, and your labour input is very very low, it might just work. It doesn't work on my farm.
Random side note- organic, ultra soft lamb skins fetch a stupidly high price from mothers wanting to use them for baby rugs. Organic wool baby blankets are in a similar arena.