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Feeding

Hay
A mixed hay of Orchard/Alfalfa, or Timothy is a good hay. Try to purchase hay with the blade or leaf formed without stems. During pregnancy baled alfalfa hay is excellent, but do not feed pellet alfalfa as is will cause an inflamed rumen. One half of a block is to be given AM and PM. Never feed sheep molded or dusty hay.

Grain
Pellet or grain sheep feed is generally given to ewes late in pregnancy. Grain is preferred over pellets for the rumen's digestion. Be sure that the grain or salts do not contain any Bovotec (a growth stimulant) or any steroids for growth. Ewes with twin lambs and breeding Rams need 1 cup daily.

Mineral Salts
Loose sheep minerals and salts are to be supplied at all times. Make sure that the mineral salts do NOT contain any copper, which is toxic to sheep. We use Southern States "Free Choice" Goat/Sheep loose Salt Minerals.

Southern States also carrys a medicated mineral that is similar to the free choice mineral. Be sure you get the correct one.

Other
Fresh salad trimmings, apples and other fruit are a delightful treat for the sheep.

In the spring and summer months our ewes are on open pasture and during the fall and winter all the sheep are fed mixed Alfalfa hay.

Fencing

We have two pastures created with electric fencing. By rotating the sheep between pastures we can allow grass to grow. Temporary plastic fence stakes allow us to quickly mark off areas of grass.

Woven wire, anchor fence, wooden, and high tensile can also be used for more permanent fencing.

We use American Farmworks (Model #77-B) for our electric fence controller. This was purchased from Southern States. It provides a intermittent low voltage charge as opposed to a continual charge.

Housing

Adequate housing must be provided in cold weather. They will need and enclosed area and bedding in low temperature climates. In milder climates a three-sided shed is all that is needed. Shade should be provided at all times, especially in hot climates.

Hoof Care

Hoof trimmings are required approximately once or twice a year. The tool that we use is simply a pair of sharp handheld garden clippers. The procedure is very simple, similar to trimming your fingernails.

We have never had any problems with foot-rot or foot diseases that commonly affect other breeds.

Medications

Regular worming is required. If your flock is on open pasture they will require more frequent worming, (3 or 4 times yearly) due to the eggs on the grass blades. Those in pens with controlled forage should be wormed once after the first frost and again in the spring.

Pregnant Ewes should NEVER be wormed with Valbazen. Other choices for worming may be Ivermectin drench or injection, or Safegaurd Apple/Cinnamon paste. It is recommended to rotate the two products. Amounts are given by weight. You should be able to locate these wormers at your local feed store.

Initial shot of Covexin 8, plus yearly booster shots are required.

Shearing

These sheep must be sheared once yearly and may need to be cleaned up before lambing. Shearing keeps them cool, clean and healthy. Shearing time is the perfect time for an overall check-up on each of your sheep. It is a good time to administer vaccinations, wormers, and trim hooves. We've noticed that they seem happier after they've been sheared. While the younger sheep are a bit nervous about being sheared, our older sheep practially lay down by themselves when it's time.

We normally sheer in early to mid-May when the weather is mild. We have found that our electric "Stewart Shearmaster" (Model #EW310C) cutter made by Oster is great for this job. We ordered it from Nasco Farm and Ranch more than five years ago and have had no problems with it. While shearing, be sure to keep the blades oiled often. We have found that Kool Lube 3 spray helps to keep the blades cooler during shearing. Because of the small size of these sheep, we also use scissors to trim the wool around their face, ears, and hard to reach areas.

If you don't want to do the shearing yourself. A good source for shearing is your county agricultural agent. The wool is short stapled and grades at about 55-60 on the Bradford scale which translates to 23 microns. Knowledgeable spinners have stated that Baby Dolls have the finest wool, with the most softness and insulating qualities of any of the English breeds. While short stapled, it has a lot of scales to bind in spinning.


Breeding and Birthing Information

  • Gestation - 5 months
  • Birth - Often twins, occasionally triplets. The ewes rarely need assistance with lambing. Lambing season is February - April.
  • Lambs - Babies height averages 9-13 inches tall. They are normally up and nursing within 90 minutes. They are weaned at 4 months.
  • Reproduction - Breeding of ewes can start after 12 months of age. Heat cycle is introduced by decreasing light; thus impregnation occurs from August on.
  • Due to the fact that this breed has ancient origins, these sheep tend to be much more hardy with less birthing difficulties.

 

*Due to their flocking instincts, sheep do not do well alone. We only sell sheep in pairs, or if they are going to homes where other sheep already live. Generally, a sheep kept alone will become aggressive or depressed regardless of the time or attention that it spends with humans.



Tails

Tails are docked (removed) to prevent accumulation of manure and urine on the hindquarters. The tail stubs that are left should be long enough to cover the vulva.

We have had success docking their tails using an emasculator (rubber banding). When bands are placed on 10 day old lambs, the tails fall off in about 2 weeks.


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