First time sheep.

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hello all.
I've been building up to this for a long time. I want to have some sheep outside my window and occasionally in my freezer. I have ten spare acres divided into one four acre very good and six acres that gets too wet from November to February/March or more if it's been a bad winter. I have plenty of barn space. I am not a farmer. I have helped out farmer friends and neighbours so I'm not worried about the handling and shearing but I am aware that I will have plenty to learn. I have never lambed. We kept goats for years so I'm pretty handy at hoof trimming. Usefully, I share a fence with a pair of sheep farmers who are good friends who will help me when I'm at a loss.

So, my idea is to start a small flock using all of my ten acres for grazing, putting some in my freezer and selling surplus lambs to help pay for the winter feed/supliments/medicines. I am not expecting to break even but I would like to reduce the deficit as much as I can.

How many ewes should I get?
Can haylage or silage be used in the winter, there's always plenty of that available locally.
What breed should I get? I'd love Devon and Cornwall longwools but they have spiked in price after a few TV appearances. Some pedigree Shetlands are available with lambs at foot and a tup if wanted quite nearby. Certainly aesthetically pleasing but as they seem like a cheap breed anyway I can't see the sale of them contributing to winter feed much. I live less than a mile from one of the biggest livestock auctions in the country so I have options there.
Any thoughts on my sale of lambs for winter feed etc economics?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
Hello all.
I've been building up to this for a long time. I want to have some sheep outside my window and occasionally in my freezer. I have ten spare acres divided into one four acre very good and six acres that gets too wet from November to February/March or more if it's been a bad winter. I have plenty of barn space. I am not a farmer. I have helped out farmer friends and neighbours so I'm not worried about the handling and shearing but I am aware that I will have plenty to learn. I have never lambed. We kept goats for years so I'm pretty handy at hoof trimming. Usefully, I share a fence with a pair of sheep farmers who are good friends who will help me when I'm at a loss.

So, my idea is to start a small flock using all of my ten acres for grazing, putting some in my freezer and selling surplus lambs to help pay for the winter feed/supliments/medicines. I am not expecting to break even but I would like to reduce the deficit as much as I can.

How many ewes should I get?
Can haylage or silage be used in the winter, there's always plenty of that available locally.
What breed should I get? I'd love Devon and Cornwall longwools but they have spiked in price after a few TV appearances. Some pedigree Shetlands are available with lambs at foot and a tup if wanted quite nearby. Certainly aesthetically pleasing but as they seem like a cheap breed anyway I can't see the sale of them contributing to winter feed much. I live less than a mile from one of the biggest livestock auctions in the country so I have options there.
Any thoughts on my sale of lambs for winter feed etc economics?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Why bother with shearing, dagging, flystrike, hoof-trimming and difficult lambing? Get some Easycares / Exlanas and you'll be saved from all that, get lots of N into your ground, have decent meat in the freezer and, for what it's worth, hate sheep far less that would otherwise be the case. (y)

As for the land, divide the six acres in to two - or three...? - and get as few ewes as you think you can get away with. I'd start with less than 20, and go from there to see what the land can carry. Sage advice above in re silage, asking for trouble, if you can have hay instead go for it.
 
Last edited:

Cmoran

Member
If you’ve got the fences I’d go for the Shetlands be a great start at sensible money but would cross them for bigger framed lambs
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
I wonder if there’s a reason why all sheep farmers don’t keep D&C Longwools, Shetlands, Portlands or Easycares? :scratchhead: ;)

Have you asked your friendly sheep farming neighbours what they keep, and why?
Something ‘mainstream’ will be more easily managed, more productive and more easily sold.
 

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
Why bother with shearing, dagging, flystrike, hoof-trimming and difficult lambing? Get some Easycares / Exlanas and you'll be saved from all that, get lots of N into your ground, have decent meat in the freezer and, for what it's worth, hate sheep far less that would otherwise be the case. (y)

As for the land, divide the six acres in to two - or three...? - and get as few ewes as you think you can get away with. I'd start with less than 20, and go from there to see what the land can carry. Sage advice above in re silage, asking for trouble, if you can have hay instead go for it.
I'll steer clear of the silage. Easycares and Exlanas sound good for the workload. Thanks.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Will avoid the silage, thanks.
For balance, I suspect far more sheep are wintered on silage/haylage in the uk every year, than are fed on hay.;) You just need to make sure there isn’t soil contamination in the bales (which probably buying it in).

For your number of sheep though, they won’t eat any silage/haylage bales fast enough to prevent spoilage, so probably best to stick with hay for only that reason.
 

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
I wonder if there’s a reason why all sheep farmers don’t keep D&C Longwools, Shetlands, Portlands or Easycares? :scratchhead: ;)

Have you asked your friendly sheep farming neighbours what they keep, and why?
Something ‘mainstream’ will be more easily managed, more productive and more easily sold.
They have two seperate breeds, black faced dartmoor and another that I can't remember. They were trying to create a good crossbreed and get known for it. I'm going to see them at the weekend so I'll pay more attention this time. They've had a very productive lambing season so they must be getting it right. Agree that the mainstream breeds would be easy to sell and help pay their way. I don't want my ignorance of lambing to cause problems so it will be a big factor when choosing.
 

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
For balance, I suspect far more sheep are wintered on silage/haylage in the uk every year, than are fed on hay.;) You just need to make sure there isn’t soil contamination in the bales (which probably buying it in).

For your number of sheep though, they won’t eat any silage/haylage bales fast enough to prevent spoilage, so probably best to stick with hay for only that reason.
Okay that's great, thank you. When I know how many residents will be over-wintering here expect me back asking how much hay I should be storing. On a related subject I noticed an advert in the farm suppliers near me for someone selling year old hay. Is this useable or inappropriate?
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Okay that's great, thank you. When I know how many residents will be over-wintering here expect me back asking how much hay I should be storing. On a related subject I noticed an advert in the farm suppliers near me for someone selling year old hay. Is this useable or inappropriate?
I’ve been feeding 4 yr old hay that was made from lovely young grass in a heat wave in my lambing pens. I’d wager it will be better feed value than much of that made last summer.

Although it does deteriorate slowly in storage, the quality & condition of the crop when it was baled is far more important than age.
 

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
I’ve been feeding 4 yr old hay that was made from lovely young grass in a heat wave in my lambing pens. I’d wager it will be better feed value than much of that made last summer.

Although it does deteriorate slowly in storage, the quality & condition of the crop when it was baled is far more important than age.
So finding a trusted supplier is going to be invaluable. I will ask my neighbours and perhaps my friendly local auctioneers. Thank you.
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
I’ve been feeding 4 yr old hay that was made from lovely young grass in a heat wave in my lambing pens. I’d wager it will be better feed value than much of that made last summer.

Although it does deteriorate slowly in storage, the quality & condition of the crop when it was baled is far more important than age.
Wrapped?
 

primmiemoo

Member
Location
Devon
They have two seperate breeds, black faced dartmoor and another that I can't remember. They were trying to create a good crossbreed and get known for it. I'm going to see them at the weekend so I'll pay more attention this time. They've had a very productive lambing season so they must be getting it right. Agree that the mainstream breeds would be easy to sell and help pay their way. I don't want my ignorance of lambing to cause problems so it will be a big factor when choosing.
Apologies if this has already been mentioned in your thread, but if you haven't already, it might be worth having a chat with the Secretary of the D&C Longwool Sheep Soc. She's a really nice, approachable person, who could be able to give you some pointers to help this endangered breed :)
 

Petroldrinker

Member
Livestock Farmer
Let the grazing, buy the lamb cuts you want, thank me later. (y)
No, that's boring 😄. I'm expecting growing pains here but I'm going to give it a go. Though I'm ignorant with sheep I'm more than familiar with working around the smallholding in other ways. We eat our own chicken and veg and I'm very well aware that it's all about three times the price of the supermarket 🤣 I may well agree with you in a year or two but I'd rather do it and regret it than not do it and regret it.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

  • 243
  • 0


Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
Top