Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Talking about Sheep and Goats

Well, it's decided.
Zac, Londyn and I will be moving out of the city come September.  We're moving in with my mom.  That means we'll be living on the acreage I grew up on :)
The move is mostly to save money to buy an acreage/farm of our own (not paying rent makes a huge difference when it comes to saving for a downpayment) but also because I'm sick of the city.
Or the city makes me sick.

Whichever.

Either way, I'm ready to get out of here.


Anyways, back to living on the acreage!
Mom said I could get sheep or goats or whatever I like as long as I take care of them :)  She doesn't want to do any of the milking or cleaning up, etc but is more than willing to eat the cheese I make lol

There's 5 breeds of sheep I've been researching:

Shetlands
A terrific all-round breed that produces excellent meat, wool, and milk. A hardy breed. Fleeces come in a variety of colours.  The characteristic that really drew me in was the non "sheepy" taste to the milk they produce (as the website says). I would like to taste farm fresh milk before making up my mind on that.

Clun Forest
A hardy breed that can survive on grass and foraging. A great milk sheep and produces good fleeces until 10-12yrs of age.  Lamb easily and usually without assistance.

North Country Cheviot
A general-purpose breed. Produce a medium-wool fleece free from hair or kempy fibres. Are good milkers and easy lambers.

Icelandic
One of the purest breeds in the world. They are generally raised for milk, meat and wool - which is low in lanolin. Their wool is known internationally as Lopi yarn. Left unshorn for the winter, the breed is very cold hardy.

Royal White/Dorper/Katahdin
Royal White is a hair sheep, meaning it sheds rather than needing to be sheared. They breed throughout the year, produce lots of milk and have high lamb survivability. They also have parasite and disease resistance.  Usually breed for meat as the flavour is more mild than that of woolly-sheep.

Alberta Sheep Breeders Association

All five have characteristics that appeal to me, but what on earth would I do with 5 different breeds of sheep?!
For sure the Shetland and Icelandic are my favourites, Royal White and Clun Forest come in at a close third/forth.

I'm interested in them for home-use/hobby farming, not a commercial operation.
Maybe I could get a variety of breeds? But which ones? I want strong general purpose breeds for milk, meat and wool.

Thoughts? Maybe you've worked with a breed I don't have listed here that you would recommend. Let me know!


** Addition **
In my research for a suitable milk goat I came across a breed that, of course, isn't really available in Canada. The Guernsey Goat.
They're so pretty!
I found the breed (as it wasn't listed in my Dairy Goats book) through this Mother Earth News article Choosing a Dairy Breed. Besides the prettiness the characteristic that drew me most to them was "is able to convert grass into milk" Most goats, especially dairy, need higher protein (grains, etc) to produce larger amounts of milk.

Other breeds I'm considering...
Nubian
Saanen/Sable

All have a milder tasting milk and are good producers. Butterfat varies between 2%-6%.
The only downfall (to me, maybe not everybody) is that Nubian's are known to be quite noisy. It's the nose :)
I'm leaning towards Sables (more colourful than their all-white relatives, Saanen) since I can't have Guernsey Goats.

Alberta Goat Breeders Association

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Here's some links for my own information. I'm planning on teaching myself spinning and weaving (and I may try knitting again). I used to crotchet, a long time ago...
Birkeland Wool Bros. Store
How To Make a Drop Spindle

2 comments:

  1. Oooh I'm so jealous of you getting out of the city! Nice work! So why sheep not goat?

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    Replies
    1. Might do both. There's more stock for sheep in my area than dairy goats. Lots of meat goats though.
      Plus, sheep are quieter. I know my parents would appreciate that lol
      Goats might have to wait until we get our own acreage.

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