BF Sheep

MFF SHEEP

Our Leicester ram, brought in directly from Colonial Williamsburg.

The Michael Family Farm is home to rare Leicester Longwool sheep, which are the sheep preserved at Colonial Williamsburg for their historical significance.  We will be one of the few farms in North America with pure-bred Leicesters, registered with the Leicester Longwool Sheepbreeder Association (LLSBA).   There are less than 200 registered Leicesters born in North America each year and the breed is listed as one in critical need of preservation in the U.S.  They were famously brought to America by George Washington to improve the quality of wool produced in the new world.

One of our Leicester ewes looking pretty in November.

Leicesters provide an average of 12 lbs. of wool per year, which is enough to make 5-6 adult sweaters.  They give one lamb per year and are dual purpose sheep–good for wool and meat.  More importantly, they are beautiful.  We look forward to demonstrating the shearing, spinning and weaving/knitted processes here on the MFF website in the future.

 

 

 

SHEEP CARE

I.  FEEDING

  • St. Joseph to St. Francis (May 1 to Oct 4):  good pasture
  • St. Francis to St. Joseph (Oct 4 to May 1):  alfalfa mix  hay
  • No grain until 1 month before lambing, then 1/2 lb. (12% CP grain) per day per ewe, unless body condition requires supplement.
  • Nursing ewes up to 1 lb. per day per ewe.
  • Growing babies given grain
  • Sheep salt/mineral block (not optional).
  • Fresh, clean water at all times.

II.  BREEDING & LAMBING

  • Sheep breeding begins on St. Teresa’s day (Oct. 15) with a lambing goal being the Annunciation (March 25).
  • Castrate ram lambs 1 week  after birth (banding).
  • Dock tails 1 week after birth (banding).

III.  VACCINES & WORMING

  • CDT booster shot one month before lambing–St. Serenus’ day (Feb. 25).
  • Deworming one month before lambing, on St. Serenus’ day.  Give  Cydectin (1ml/11lbs. bodyweight).
  • 6 week old lambs get Cydectin & CDT shot.
  • 10 week old lambs get second CDT shot.
  • Every 2 weeks, check eyes for paleness.  If pale, treat with Valbazen for worms (or Cydectin if pregnant).
  • Dipping 5-6 days after shearing.

IV.  HOUSING & EQUIPMENT

  • South-facing, 3-sided shed to provide escape from cold, wet weather.
  • Two pastures (1 acre for every 4 sheep) needed to allow rotation of pasture.
  • Hay rack.
  • Hoof trimmer
  • Electric shearer
  • 4′ high-tensile woven wire fence (sheep/goat) with barbed wire at top and rubbing level.

V.  SHEARING

  • Shearing annually on St. Serenus’ day (Feb. 25)

VI.  GROOMING

  • Hooves cut on St. Serenus’ day (Feb. 25) and St. Rose’s days (Aug. 30).

4 Responses to BF Sheep

  1. Mrs. Brown says:

    This is neat info here on the care of your sheep! Thanks for sharing it. Pairing their management with certain feast days is interesting. Is this how farms were managed in the past or is it something you came up with? We recently brought a small flock of registered Leicester Longwools to our farm (three ewes and one ram) and are today seeing signs of labor beginning in at least one of the ewes! She’s our triplet ewe and I can’t wait to see what she gives us.

  2. William Michael says:

    Old-Fashioned Sheep Care:

    1. For Intestinal Parasites:

    – 5 oz. Warm Cow’s Milk
    – 1 TBSP Gasoline
    – 1 TBSP Linseed Oil

    Yes, Gasoline. 🙂 I also found turpentine (distilled pine sap) used for the same. The recipe above was for lambs. For larger sheep, the amount of milk and oil was the same, but gasoline raised to 1.5 TBSP.

    2. For Bloat

    If a sheep is found bloated 1 PINT to 1 QUART of warm cow’s milk was known to relieve bloat.

    3. For Maggots (Blow-flies)

    – Clip all dirty wool to prevent infestation
    – Coal Tar (Creosote) sheep dip

    WM

  3. zillapacis says:

    WM,

    Hello. We currently have two dairy goats (one Nubian, one American Nubian) and were offered 8 sheep. Our dairy goat provider (and mentor) suggested to really think about that before we accept as sheep can carry CL (some really hard to say and spell bacteria) that can, among other things, cross over and contaminate the goats and humans, etc. I know you will have some wise advice about this. I’m looking forward to hearing it!

    Blessings,

    Mary Maranzano

    • wmclaa says:

      Hello Mary,

      Sheep, goats and human beings have been together since the beginning of the world. There is always the risk of disease among animals, which is why God made human beings to manage them.

      He is talking about Caseous Lymphadenitis, abbreviated CLA (not CLAA ;)). This can be checked in the sheep before you buy them by seeing whether their lymph glands are swolled. The Latin means “cheesy lymph nodes” because the lymph nodes are filled with cheesy pus that causes them to swell. So, it’s not a mystery disease. You probably know that humans get swollen glands when they are sick…same thing.

      There are a lot of practical details that determine whether this is a problem or not. First, CAN and DO are two very different things. Sheep CAN carry this or that, but DO they–these eight sheep? If not, who cares? Second, the environment is a factor–do the animals have space, separate pens, etc., or are they going to be crammed into a pen or barn together? Third, all of your animals are going to die one day, so we can never be too worried about disease, and we want only the strongest animals in our herds to reproduce and stay around. If you are offered 8 sheep (for free?), even if you have to put 2 or 3 down with a disease…you still end up with 5 or 6 healthy sheep.

      So, there’s lots of practical stuff to look at–and I’d be happy to help you through that process.

      God bless,
      WM

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