Thinking about getting some sheep?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by GaGoats2017, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. GaGoats2017

    GaGoats2017 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2017
    Hey! I have never owned sheep before and was wondering how similar keeping sheep are, compared to keeping goats.

    I have working border collies that I love to work with, and they have mastered herding ducks, chickens, then goats. But goats aren't the easiest to herd in a group haha. I am definitely going to get big into sheep in the future, just to train my dogs, but I am very inexperienced in sheep care. I have never seen anyone in my area own sheep, so I don't know of anyone else to ask.

    1. Has anyone raised both sheep and goats?

    2. Do they have common diseases as goats?

    3. Do they get wormy easily? It's hot, wet, and humid here, so we have big worm loads.

    I would LOVE to get some southdowns. But I have looked into the Florida Cracker Sheep, maybe start off with something hardy just get used to keeping them. Main goals are hardiness, temperament, and ability to be worked.

    4. I am from the south east so it is hot year round, will they overheat?

    5. I am okay with shearing, but are they hard to keep clean?

    6. I know they are grazers, rather than browsers. But what feed is best, hay? I have never seen any sheep feed in my area so I have no idea.

    7. Minerals? I know copper is toxic, but anything else?

    8. Vaccines?

    9. Tips or anything to think about?

    Thank you! I have watched hundreds of videos, and googled like crazy. But they still seem foreign to me. I might try to find a sheep forum to look into it more.
  2. LibertyHomesteadFarm

    LibertyHomesteadFarm Member

    Feb 1, 2014
    1. I currently raise Gulf Coast Native sheep along with my dairy goats. My flock is raised primarily for meat/breed conservation and secondarily for wool.

    2. Yes, goats and sheep share many diseases and parasites.

    3. Depends on the breed; southern breeds like Gulf Coast Native, Florida Cracker, Hog Island, and Tunis are much more parasite resistant than British and "improved" breeds. Hair breeds like Barbados Blackbelly, and St. Croix are fairly parasite resistant as well.

    4. Usually not too much of a problem, but a breed that is adapted to the south will fare better than those from northern climates. Again, GCN, FC, HI, and Tunis along with hair breeds do well in the south.

    5. Depends on their environment; one of the biggest things to remember is to never use pine shavings or flakes as bedding for wool sheep, straw will not contaminate the wool like pine shavings. Also, when kept out on pasture they will get their fleeces cleaned each time it rains.

    6. Good pasture and hay is the mainstay; some breeds require grain supplementation, others don't. My flock of GCN sheep is 100% grass fed, alfalfa is added when a protein boost is needed.

    7. Sheep minerals are basically the same as goat minerals, just without the copper. Feed either a sheep mineral or a sheep/goat combo mineral and supplement the goats with copper boluses as needed (I do boluses 4x/year). I use Sweetlix sheep/goat combo mineral.

    8. I don't choose to vaccinate, but if you do sheep get the same CD&T as goats.
    Lstein, Kaigypsygoats and odieclark like this.

  3. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
  4. GaGoats2017

    GaGoats2017 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2017
    Thank you so much!

    I have a lot more research and planning before I bring any home. I have probably had every thing that can go wrong with a goat happen, until years later and I now know how to treat most things with goats. I am just scared I will have to start over the learning process and have to do it all over again until I learn sheep.

    I'll be at the State Fair sometime in the next few weeks, so I'm excited to stop by the lamb barn to talk to some of the owners about keeping sheep in our area.
  5. GaGoats2017

    GaGoats2017 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2017
    Might actually be getting some sooner than I planned...I was just looking around, and found someone in a nearby town giving away some lambs. May or may not stop by and get a few, still waiting to get some info back from the owners.

    They look fat and healthy. They are kept as pets, but the owner can't afford to feed them anymore after they had some destruction from Irma. They look young, maybe a month or so old, I'm still waiting for more info.

    Is there anything I need to ask them or look for? I might get 3 or 4 little girls if he has some.
  6. BoulderOaks

    BoulderOaks Active Member

    Sep 23, 2014
    Weldon, CA
    Good advice given above!

    If they are only a month, they'll need to be bottle fed until at least 8 weeks old. Lamb digestive tracts are functional earlier than goat kids, and so can be weaned at a younger age.

    Sheep are generally not tested for diseases nearly as commonly as goats are. So long as they appear healthy, I'd go for it. When they're older, you can test for OPP(sheep version of CAE) and Johnes if you choose. Also, make check your state regulations regarding scrapie tags. Some require all sheep, regardless of age, to be tagged at time of sale. Others have different rules and requirements. ID Requirements.html
    Lstein and SalteyLove like this.
  7. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    What kind? Post updates and photos!

    I love sheep!
  8. fivemoremiles

    fivemoremiles Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    western montana
    I have 200 ewes and 35 goats. they share many diseases like CL, White Mussel, some worms are shared also.
    there is a saying the tighter the wool the tighter the sheep. fine wool sheep have a tendency to be easer to herd with dogs. hair sheep tend to be panicky when they see a dog. hair sheep are not as easy to sell. in the sales yard they get docked for not having wool. a wool hide is tanned a hair hide is put in the trash. avoid small frame sheep such as Finnish or baby doll sheep they are hard to sell. ewe frame should be about 160 to 180 lbs. Sheep are not goats. they lamb easer they do not remain very people friendly. Look into dairy sheep they produce 220%+ lamb crop. you can milk them. they are more human friendly. I am switching my sheep herd to dairy because of the numbers of lambs born and they have the milk to hold them.
    I recommend you find a sheep herder in your area to mentor you. there is more science to raising sheep than you may think.
    odieclark likes this.
  9. GaGoats2017

    GaGoats2017 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2017
    Thank you! I love sheep too! Hahaha

    The post about me getting some lambs was from about a month ago, by the time I had a chance to pick them up, he had gotten rid of most of them except the boys. So I decided just to hold off and wait until I found the right ones.

    That was my thoughts on the hair breeds too. I might as well just have goats, they seem really flighty, more wild. And not as many people want to buy a hair sheep, rather than a wool breed.

    Another thing I liked about wool breeds, every now and then I will get a new pup that is a little rough. I don't like to let them loose while training with the goats, without a leash. I was hoping a breed with a lot of extra hair will protect them, the dogs will get a mouthful of wool instead of delicate skin.

    I was hoping the minerals would be like that. I will most likely switch over to the goat/sheep Sweetlix, with the bolus. That sounds like the best option, thank you!

    Thank you so much for the disease information! The way it sounds, they are a lot like goats, so I shouldn't have many problems hopefully. And the fact that they get the same vaccines is great too.

    I have been looking around at a few great sheep breeders, all of which are a couple hours from me. But since I am just starting out with 5 or so, I want to make sure I know I am getting good stock, from breeders that I know will help me out...Unless they have a cheap bottle baby for sale at the auction and I can't help myself haha :oops:

    I have looked into Friesian, Katadin, Dorper, Suffolk, Southdown, and a few other breeds. (The boer goat lover in me LOVES the Texel look too haha) Most I have found around me are Southdown, or Mini Southdown. The market here seems to be for pet or meat stock. And I guess I can always change breeds later, try it out and if I don't like them move on.

    I honestly have no idea, and after a while the breeds get mixed up in my head. Still a lot to learn until I memorize which is which.

    I like the milk sheep idea too, like the Freisian. That they are good mamas with plenty of milk. Will make my life easier when it comes to breeding and lambing.

    At one point I hope to be able to have some for meat and some for wool. But for now it is just a pet/hobby herd, as training dummy's for my dogs. And that will be their main purpose. If y'all have any suggestions on breed/breeds that sound like what I am looking for, it would be greatly appreciated. :) I am willing to wait as long as it takes, and drives a few hours to get the right ones. I have a lot of time to think about it haha.
  10. fivemoremiles

    fivemoremiles Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    western montana
    I have Targee and East Freisian sheep right now. I have had Hamp and Suffolk. right now I am crossing E. Freisian with my targee ewes to increase the lambing % and milk production. How do you train a pup on goats? I find that there is too much stimulation for the pup with goats. Having a few Velcro sheep to train pups is a must.
    odieclark likes this.
  11. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    If you can keep Goats successfully you can raise sheep!!!!

    IMO-Sheep are easier than goats! Many reasons I say that!

    Now for milk -I don’t know, but the Fresisn are said to be the milk champions! As we don’t want to milk, and live in,”America’s Dairyland.” I see milking as a double forget it! We are surrounded by dairy cattle and dairy vets! Not a bad thing, it is reality!

    Cows and cattle are much more like sheep in their care. So Vet can understand sheep better and treatments if meds are the same per pond.

    Goats are typically double on meds if sheep to take care of worms...

    Sheep are shy and frighten easily.

    They can be very loving and tame up some, but they aren’t goats.

    Sheep are afraid of their own shadow sometimes and unlike goats cannot see in the dark.

    Wool is a pain or it’s awesone! Or maybe both!♥️

    Breeds-know little of differences

    Mainly we have raised Columbia sheep. Love them! Meat and Wool-gorgeous Wool!

    Meat is lean and delicious! Very mild flavor, and fast growing. They lamb easy and are good mothers.

    They tolerate cold and wind very well. Much better than goats do.

    Our sheep have a gelded male llama and they adore him! We have hot wire and sheep can take shelter inside if frightened or predators approach

    Coyotes, and others are prevalent

    CL is contagious to all species? How do you identify CL?
    GaGoats2017 likes this.
  12. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    BTW-in our experience-which is very limited —we found Suffolk’s to be fast growing, but fatty meat.

    Some of the hair sheep we tried were difficult and also fatty
  13. GaGoats2017

    GaGoats2017 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2017
    It is rough using goats! Haha they like to fight back and don't really group together. With gentle pups I start them on chickens and ducks, then move up to goats. But for rough pups I train them on goats first until I can trust them. They are flighty, and it's hard to get them started because the goats are always trying to split up. But they learn quick to expect that from them, and keep them together nicely after a while. It makes them great as trained adults, because they have no problems with keeping scattered animals together.
    odieclark likes this.
  14. Kaigypsygoats

    Kaigypsygoats Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    High Desert, Calif
    Hi! Such good sheep advice from goat folks too! I am looking into raising some sheep for meat with wool a far second. I have a friend who felts and would love the extra wool. We are thinking of adding California Red to our menu-the sheep is for us as well as raw pet food for our critters.

    I also wanted a long hair variety but where we are in the desert (high desert), they would fry. CR or Tunis would do better here, I believe. I'd like to milk them but maybe I would have to raise(?) a half CR half E. Friesian as they are rare around these parts. They will be dry-lotted but I've no problem doing grass hay, etc. Ideas? Thoughts?
    GaGoats2017 and odieclark like this.
  15. Mary B.

    Mary B. Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    Denham Springs La.
    Hi, I am in Louisiana and I have Babydoll South Down sheep, I also raise Aussies and they are great at herding the sheep. Lambs are harder then goats but after they get older they are very easy. Coccidia and worms are the worse when you first get them and need to be checked (it is the stress of the move) if you are not sure maybe start with adults not lambs. Bloat is also the thing to watch. It is very hot here and the sheep do fine just make sure they have shade. They need to be shaved once a year. Other than the delicate lambs they are like goats without the copper. Mine eat only grass or hay in spring and summer and ONLY a sheep feed (one hand full) a day per sheep in winter with all the hay they want. My sheep come when I call and are very friendly, they do not test the fence, stay put great. Good Luck, hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  16. SouthernLife

    SouthernLife Member

    Dec 30, 2017
    I have found that sheep are harder to keep, simply because the are a lot more skittish. If you live in an area that is fairly warm year round, then I would suggest a hair breed such as Khatadins or Black Bellies. Otherwise, wool breeds are fine. Sheep are less hardy and more high maintenance. They get sick easily and quickly. If you do get sheep, DO NOT give them copper, it can kill them. Other than that, I love my ewes as long as I spend enough time with them for them to be social.
    Kaigypsygoats and odieclark like this.
  17. SouthernLife

    SouthernLife Member

    Dec 30, 2017
    If looking for meat, go fro Khatadins or black faced breeds
  18. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    Sheep are shy and can be frightened very easily. Goats, especially if they were bottle fed are extremely friendly! Even calf’s that we’re bottle fed tend to be friendlier. We have some sheep that were bottle fed by their previous owners, who are much less shy, and they are friendlier than our lambs born on our property who were nursed by their moms. Same as goat kids raised by their moms versus is giving them bottles.
  19. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    I can’t offer much other than an opinion on selecting hair versus Wool for sheep selection, as it is a personal choice.

    There are the obvious pros and cons of each category along with variations amongst the different breeds.

    Also, I feel people sometimes like what they have gotten use to, what they grew up with, or what is easiest to raise for the land and weather you have, or is simply just most available-and with that end up falling in love with what they have or not!

    Goats and sheep are not the same and offer different challenges.
  20. fivemoremiles

    fivemoremiles Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    western montana
    Black face sheep were developed in Britton they do well in wet conditions but do not do well in heat. White face breeds do better in the heat. remember that wool is an insulator often i find my sheep standing in a bunch with there heads under the bellies of the sheep next to them that is all the shade they need.
    I wish my sheep were more skittish today they kept walking under my tractor. I had to lock them up so i could feed
    odieclark likes this.