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Sheep for beginners

  • 04-02-2022 7:33pm
    Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    From a cattle background and currently farming cattle, was tempted to get a few as variety and for a number of uses.

    Will have milk available this spring so thinking of feeding a few pets/orphans as would be quiet and hopefully train them to electric fence.

    Any thoughts? Which breeds to avoid, I want something hardy??

    Also would I need to apply for a flock number as I already hold an active cattle herd number?

    Thank you



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,583 ✭✭✭ FintanMcluskey

    My grandfather had a saying years ago "a sick sheep is a dead sheep", so you will save on vet bills but a healthy sheep will be dead in an hour from some ailment or other.

    Sheep won't be kept in place using cattle fencing.

    There was a mix of Suffolk, Rouge and Texel on the family farm here years ago.

    The Suffolk and Rouge were the hardiest round here, but it depends where you are from ie hilly West of Ireland ground needs hilly West of Ireland sheep.

    It's surprising how much sheep eat, they use their teeth to clip grass so it gets cut to the butt. Grows real leafy after though

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Thanks for your advice!!

    Mixed land here in the south west, considerable height above sea level.

    Do you know anything about the flock number ???

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭ Jonnyc135

    My thoughts would be stay away from pet lambs alot of hassel and there costing nearly 35 euro at the minute. Maybe buy ewe with lambs at foot. Once ewe bags alright then not a bad buy if decent land off load the lambs come 42kg and fatten the ewes after or keep if decent stock. Fat ewes going 3.50 a kilo. Main thing with lambs and sheep is fencing and buying the correct stock. Never buy lame, and never buy them if there scratching. Crossbreed type ewe would be fine and hardy, sometimes I find texels can have bad feet and prone to scald and suffolks are usually better that just my experience. Always found suffolk lambs extremely greedy and hence very easy to fatten.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Thank you for your advice, would be alot more straightforward than feeding lambs and could make a few euro too.r

    Do you know anything about flock number as I have never kept sheep, only have herd number for cattle

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,688 ✭✭✭ Kevhog1988

    Started out a few yrs ago as a complete beginner. If i was you id buy a few ewe lambs and run them on as hoggets for breeding next yr. By the time you go lambing you will have gotten the hang of handling sheep etc. If you decide they are not for you its easy sell hoggets

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,550 ✭✭✭✭ wrangler

    Cows milk isn't suitable for feeding pet lambs, use Lamlac if you're going that route.

    Sheep are not difficult to keep once you get the fencing right, there's a lot of common sense involved. lot's of vaccines available nowadays so they don't die any more than any animal and if they do there's not a lot of money involved.

    Sheep thrive very well too mixed through cattle as opposed to all sheep

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Thank you both for your advice. If bottle feeding, I will have a surplus of goats milk.

    Any info on the flock number, do I have to apply to Department or will herd number suffice??

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,688 ✭✭✭ Kevhog1988

    Just ring the department and they will activate flock number if you already have herd number i would say

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Great thanks 👌

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,957 ✭✭✭

    Don't get pet lambs ..pure hardship. Different if you wanted to Keep a couple for the kids.

    If u want to get good at sheep buy good the first day.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    The human kid is heavily involved, near 4 year old girl. The pet route was appealing as could train to electric fence (3/4 strands), train to bucket and will also have the surplus milk.

    I know the saying with the cattle 'the day you buy is the day you sell' applies to sheep also!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,979 ✭✭✭ orm0nd

    Since you don't have sheep don't buy untagged lambs or you might have to do a bit of explaining to the dept

    Send the pink copy of the dispatch document to your DVO.

    You will also need a book of dispatch documents for the dreaded day of sale or casualty disposal. Also a flock register for records.

    The dept will organise these for you when you active your flock number.

    In the event of an lost tag you will need to get a replacement from one of the suppliers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Thank you for this information 👌

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,957 ✭✭✭

    Yea ppl forget the 'un tagged' lambs with pets. I had an inspection a few months back and I saw the print out if all my movements the dept had on me...I had nothing to hide but tell you it was a wake up call to what big brother is capable of having.

  • Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭ Skipduke

    You cant feed pet lambs cow milk unless you want to kill them. it's too rich, you'll need to buy a proper lamb milk replacer.

    the bucket is also not ideal, they either drink too much or don't drink at all . with one lamb your best bet is bottle feed. 3 /4 times a day but that cant be gradually cut down when the lamb is a few months old.

    in terms of hardy-only buy a lamb that got its colostrum. breeds irrelevant but I am a fan of scotch blackface or cheviot. Suffolk are soft. buy a ewe with lambs at foot, save yourself the feeding.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    It's goats milk I have access to if I go down that route and would be fed from bottles.

    By train to the bucket I mean to follow a bucket of meal for moving etc as I don't have a dog.

    Ewe with lambs at foot possibly looking like a more sensible option 👍

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,979 ✭✭✭ orm0nd

    If you're registered on Agfood you can check your movements there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 940 ✭✭✭ green daries

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Might stay doing what I'm doing 🤣🤣

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,081 ✭✭✭ funkey_monkey

    It's also moved on in that the cost of the sheep exceeds the cost of any Vet intervention.

  • Registered Users Posts: 940 ✭✭✭ green daries

    Ya and that is fair enough wrangler I haven't farmed sheep for 30 year's.where the quote rings true is where sheep are in inexperienced hands.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,550 ✭✭✭✭ wrangler

    Do all the vaccinations and you'll shortcut a lot of the deaths same as any enterprise.

    I always heard that it takes five years to learn a new enterprise

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,550 ✭✭✭✭ wrangler

    Apart from a ewe putting out her guts, I'd never question getting a vet for a sick ewe if she needs it

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,318 ✭✭✭✭ Danzy

    I did last year but it's a false economy. The vet might not save her but what you will learn will save ewes for year's to come.

  • Registered Users Posts: 192 ✭✭ Ashill5

    I got into sheep 5 years ago, bought 20 Texel cross ewe lambs, put up 4 rows of electric fencing, once they got a rattle off it, they weren't long getting trained, give a handfull of nuts till they settle, it will come in handy when yiu want to move them..

    luckily i havent lost any apart from a couple of lambs at lambing time

    i had to apply for a flock number, had an inspection before i was granted it but it was no bother, once you have a bit field fenced, you will be grand.

    Best of luck with them, but go for lowlands as they will settle in a lot easier to fence with the electric fence


  • Registered Users Posts: 192 ✭✭ Ashill5

  • Registered Users Posts: 39 RogR

    Thank you 👍

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,081 ✭✭✭ funkey_monkey

    I've heard about years ago when an old sick sheep would get put down. Although that might say more about the local vet at the time.

    Times have changed and vets can do a lot more.