Wiltshire sheep - good sheep for a beginner?

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16 years 1 month ago #177278 by reggit
As you say, Jo, its all about what you are after - and making sure that all the important traits (feet, marble poos, etc) are taken into consideration too.

At the moment 100% shedders with the other good traits are a breeders market, but like anything, over time, as numbers rise, the price will come down :D .

Heritability - after about 3 generations of 100% shedding on both sides, the offspring are apparently pretty reliable.

We didn't pay what I would call 'big bucks' for them, considering the number we bought - but because we did shell out for good foundation stock, the sale of the offspring came close to paying off that initial investment in the first year.

If you are on a very small block like ours, you need to look for something that there is a good market for and get in at the right level to make it worthwhile, which is what we did. We didn't have the time or space to breed up from lower percentage shedders, as others are doing very successfully [;)].

With anything, you've got to do your homework well. I think it took us about three months of checking into different breeds, talking with breeders etc before we took the plunge and decided on wiltis, and so far we've not regretted it at all :D

Take a break...while I take care of your home, your block, your pets, your stock! [;)] PM me...

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16 years 1 month ago #177280 by Giddyup
Tigger, what would you say is the ideal starting number if I was buying in 100%ers?

15 acres, 9 horses, 7 sheep, 50 chickens, 1 jersey cow, 3 black cats, 1 border/beardie cross, 2 cockateils, several possums and....3 teenagers[}:)]

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16 years 1 month ago #177284 by reggit
Hard to answer, Giddyup! :rolleyes:

If you had, for an example, 6 ewes, and you got (ideally) twins from each one and the lambs were (ideally, again) 50:50 male:female, and you kept all the ewe lambs and got a new ram every two years (if you are not hogget mating) to stop dads going over daughters...and assuming you start with 100% shedders that have good feet and good poos and parents and grandparents were all 100% shedders too...(boy, is this an ideal world or what! [}:)]) so there is no culling needed.

After the first year of this sheep breeding nirvana, you'd end up with 6 + 6 ewes (12 total).

After the third year (remember, assuming non-hogget mating and keeping all ewe lambs), you'd end up with 12 + 12 ewes (24 total).

Someone please tell me if I have my maths wrong, working on these ideal-world assumptions? :o

So at the end of the day you need to work out how many sheep you want in your flock at the end of the day, and how long you want to take to get to that number...

You also have to have good fencing and good yards.

Anyone else can add/change this scenario to make it more realistic?

Take a break...while I take care of your home, your block, your pets, your stock! [;)] PM me...

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16 years 1 month ago #177286 by Giddyup
Tigger thanks so much for that!

I think ideally - as our acreage is used primarily for paying horse grazing, we want something we can breed and sell the offspring - and - cross grazing - and - easy care.
Our fences are crap - our bloody dofers get through them now, but we are slowly improving them.
We don't have yards, but have a wannabe sheepdog that rounds them up - kind of (into a penned off race). He does chickens better!
Our ultimate flock number would be 10-12, maybe more if we cull the rams each years (drool)

15 acres, 9 horses, 7 sheep, 50 chickens, 1 jersey cow, 3 black cats, 1 border/beardie cross, 2 cockateils, several possums and....3 teenagers[}:)]

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16 years 1 month ago #177293 by hilldweller
On the yards thing, I'd add that while Tigger's facilities look superb, with a small number of sheep you could probably get away with just a gated off corner of a paddock and either some netting/shadecloth to 'steer' them in, or if you like your sheep tame, get them hooked on sheepnuts or whatever so you can bribe them in. Plus some form of shelter for lambing, but that could be trees or whatever, doesn't need to be a building. Tigger's maths looks good to me, for the ideal world scenario.

hilldweller

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16 years 1 month ago #177300 by Giddyup
Who doesn't want tame sheep on a LSB hilldweller?!
Last week, I magaged to get a shearer in for my demented cross-bred weirdos. Anyway, we were going along all right - this guy was in his 80s - looked like santa - a sweet little old man.
I fel sorry for him and gave him a hand in the hot sun - starting is generator, bagging the wool etc.
Meanwhile, the sheep were fighting him, jumping the pens etc... after about 2 hours, I have him a cheque and you know what he said to me?
I have ta tell ya lady... you're sheep are the worst f****** c***ts I've ever done.
And he took off down the driveway. I laughed and laugh and nearly wet myself!

15 acres, 9 horses, 7 sheep, 50 chickens, 1 jersey cow, 3 black cats, 1 border/beardie cross, 2 cockateils, several possums and....3 teenagers[}:)]

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16 years 1 month ago #177314 by hilldweller

Giddyup;148650 wrote: Who doesn't want tame sheep on a LSB hilldweller?!

Me! And my sheep agree with me!

LOL at your shearer! I hope it was a big cheque :) Just out of interest, would you not normally do the picking up/sorting etc? I've always assumed that was part of the deal.

hilldweller

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16 years 1 month ago #177317 by Giddyup
Well, we've only had em for 3 years or so. We have a shearing shed and plant down back, but I think it came off the Arc, and crapped out a while back. Then we used the neighbours, but somehow missed the boat this year - hence the shearing contractor. And since we only have 7, its no biggie.
This guy charged us $109.36 in cluding drencing. That was after the wool had been taken off which we got bugger all for!

15 acres, 9 horses, 7 sheep, 50 chickens, 1 jersey cow, 3 black cats, 1 border/beardie cross, 2 cockateils, several possums and....3 teenagers[}:)]

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16 years 1 month ago #177322 by hilldweller
Two hours to drench and shear seven sheep! They really must have been f***ing c**ts!

hilldweller

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16 years 1 month ago #177327 by Giddyup
hahaha I'm laughing my head off. They are totally. Nasty little buggers that escape from anything. He also said he'd never seen sheep jump that high. He reckons they're inbred crossbreds with about 12 different breeds! lol. Why do you think I hate sheep so much? Bad experience!
I'll tell ya something else, a couple years ago, our neighbour found a rm wandering down at the river. He bought it around here thinking we might want a ram. Well this thing was friendly - little did we know a PET RAM is the worst thing ever. It attacked us constantly - you could never tuen your back on it.
One day it cornered me by our pumpshed, rammed me off my feet and I picked up my daughter's hockeystick and bashed it over the head. Crack the stick in half vertically.. the ram staggered for a bit and buggered off!
THIS is my sheep's DNA now! No wonder they're Freddy Krugers of the sheep variety!
He tasted nice though!

15 acres, 9 horses, 7 sheep, 50 chickens, 1 jersey cow, 3 black cats, 1 border/beardie cross, 2 cockateils, several possums and....3 teenagers[}:)]

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16 years 1 month ago #177417 by JonC
The 100% shedding isnt a huge issue for us here. We never have fly strike in clean dry wool. While the animals that shed 100% look tidier, I've come to think that some of our Dorper crosses that leave a "rug" across the top of the back and shoulders actually may have some advantages.

Jon

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement.

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16 years 1 month ago #177423 by Simkin
Hi Tigger,

I'm always amazed when people write that they just take a few sheep nuts and their sheep follow them wherever they want them. We can do anything in the sheep paddocks when our sheep are around, even the kids can go in on their own ... as long as we don't have food with us.

However, as soon as there is a bucket of apples, a bit of bread or whatever, the ram charges at us in a big way. He got me once but fortunately I was leaning against a fence when he hit me so I wasn't pushed over. But did that hurt![}:)][}:)][}:)][}:)]

He got me on my shin and that was a BIG bruise.[B)]

I also noticed that he gets VERY interested in me when I ovulate[:0]. He follows me around which is kind of eerie and I then better don't collect firewood in his paddock.

He was ewe raised, he was very shy when we bought him of a breeder and he still is quite shy but that disappears in a flash when a treat is in sight. They are not starving or anything - he is very well rounded.

On top of all this I have to say that I think our ram (Wilti) had a sixth sense. If we want to catch him to do his feet or to shear him - no problem. He is lured into our small enclosure with a bit of bread (with us standing outside and holding the bread over the fence). But the three times when we wanted to catch our whether lambs for having them killed our sheep were nowhere to be seen. Led by the ram they hid in the darkest corners of their paddock (we have lots of trees and shrubs in there) and the five of us had to take turns to run them to exhaustion to get them[:(!]

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16 years 1 month ago #177432 by reggit
I get mobbed for sheepnuts too, but as our ram stays in another paddock most of the year, its only the ewes that mob me, so just have to push your way through a seething mass of salivating sheep! :) The worst that can happen is they stand on your toes or you try to move forward (or backwards) too quickly and almost fall over one of them!

JonC, we have the dreaded Aussie green fly here (I think that's the name) that apparently lay eggs even in clean wool. We have a couple of ex-sheep farmers around us who gave up sheep when this little pest arrived, as they got sick of dealing with it.

Take a break...while I take care of your home, your block, your pets, your stock! [;)] PM me...

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16 years 1 month ago #177451 by Inger
Even 80 or 90% shedding Wiltshires are fine. It doesn't take much to tidy up along the spine or take off the poodle pompoms on their back legs, while they're standing in the race.

We've got those portable sheep panels from Portayards. They are light weight and link together with a long hinge pin, so you can make any shape of yards you want. We bought the short shep race as well and use them for young calves as well as sheep and lambs. I've taken the panels up to the top of the farm to round up the rams and wethers. It saved having to bring them all the way down to the lower part of the farm and then take them back again.

They can also be used as mothering pens for problem sheep and lambs.

I've found our Wiltshires are very territory minded and don't like to wander from the area that they are used to, so they don't go through fences like some other sheep I could name.

Because ours are polled, horns aren't an issue. I've heard from a UK farmer how his ram got fly blown on his head. Because he had horns, he couldn't rub the area properly and squash the moggots. Ours haven't had any problems with blowflys. Then again our other breeds don't either. I've only found maggots in the foot of our footrot prone Gotland ewe, but that was more helpful than harm there. I was able to cut away all the problem area, more easily and cleaning the hooves up was no sweat.

The Wiltshire feet are pretty good over Winter. We had a couple of hoggets with thrush between the toes, but a squirt of iodine on a couple of occasions sorted that out. Some need their toes trimmed once or twice a year, others don't even need that.

They don't have the same issues with lice as our long wooled sheep and in general their droppings are fairly marbeled. Fresh grass can sometimes make then looser.

They are also economical on fed. They don't need a lot while pregnant and most of ours seem to have good udders.

Like any sheep breed, you only get out of it, what you are willing to cull from the flock, in order to improve it. You should also pay more attention to the purchase of your ram and try to buy the best you can afford. He's the one animal that will have the power to affect your next generation.

The exception is when you are choosing a ram from your flock to sell to someone else. Only keep a ram from your best ewes. The rest should be eaten.

Personally, I would rather choose mothering ability genes over shedding ability. A small amount of wool can be trimmed off, but bad mothering can't be fixed. The next trait I'd go for would be worm resiliance and then lamb growth rate.

The lamb growth rate will be affected by the mothers milking ability, at the beginning. So placing an emphasis on mothering ability, should help with the lamb growth rates as well.

We've just weaned our lambs (4.5 to 5 months old) and the Wiltshire were 39.2 kg and 35.0 kg for the two single wethered lambs and 30.2 kg for the twin female lamb. (The only female born on the property last year). Her twin brother was much larger than her and was weaned earlier. I didn't get his weaning weight, but at 3 months he was 21.8 kg.

I also haven't managed to get birth weights for the Wiltshires yet, as I prefer to leave well enough alone with sheep. Especially as our Wiltshires aren't pets.

Since we prefer mutton rather than lamb, we won't be eating them until they're a year old anyway and by then they'll be around 80 kg or more.

From a LifeStylers point of view, Wiltshires are a large, heavy breed, with the ewes reaching 80kg and the rams 100kg. That's a lot to hang onto, if you want to catch one. Its much better to get yards to work them in, than try to manage without yards. At that sort of weight, you wouldn't want to shear them.

45 hectares between Whangarei and Paparoa. Registered Dexter cattle, Wiltshire sheep - black, white & pied.
New Hampshire Red poultry & Dorking poultry. Pilgrim Geese, Appleyard Ducks.
A cat called Pusscat and still looking for another heading dog.

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16 years 1 month ago #177557 by kindajojo
We have wilti and I have one of Wannabe's rams. he was 100% shed by october and a lovely big boy.
I have had no foot probelms which is a godsend after the Dorpers, no flystrike and have only pebble poops.
The also seem to be less susceptible to worms as i have nearly halved the requirement for drench 1x per year for the ewes and then only the ones that twinned, they got a bit rundown.
I would certainly recommend them as low mtce easy care.
All the ewes are at least 90% shedding and their offspring are 100% as all the purebreds have shed by now. Even the "designerbreds"' 50% shed.

they dont jump out of the yards and are relatvely quiet, and yes they are pretty quiet.

If anyone wants a designerbred ie half wilti lamb I have some that are destined for the freezer, but its shame as they are nice but I keep the pures and eat the rest (gotta eat some of the stock)

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