We are relatively new to sheep so we are learning as we go along. Initially we chose the Dorpers for their quiet nature and good looks in the paddock over other self shedding varieties. They have proven to be very quiet and amiable with a very inquisitive nature.
As we have a small property of only 10 acres, self shedding sheep are a great alternative and compliment our goats.
We don't have to pay anyone to slash the paddocks nor do we need to agist other stock to keep the grass down. The best part about all of this is that we have meat for our table and a few spare $'s too and in our economic climate this will be welcome.
Because they are self shedding, there is no need to shear them or crutch them so there is a cost saving there. They are said to be more resistant to disease than other breeds so less worming and fussing around. These sheep do not herd as well as some though.
These two are F3's. Third cross Dorpers. They still have a fleece but it is not as thick and it sheds by itself. Being a cross they are cheaper than a purebred and for our hobby farm this is perfect.
If we want to have a purebred herd we would need to purchase a pure bred Dorper ram to service our F3 ewes. As they already shed we are happy to stay with the F3 class.
Our two are spoilt and Toby the ram is very friendly and bleats his fool head off for a handful of chaff each night when he notices that the goats are being fed. Trudy (the ewe)is shy and not at all friendly although I am sure she would like to be. She too wants a handful of chaff and now bleats for her share.
We are looking forward to our first lambs next year.
So with lots of lambs around the paddocks..........
Andrew, a black alpaca has been purchased to guard over the lambs as we have a resident foxy loxy family not far from us. Although the foxes have not (touch wood), up till now bothered us, there is always a first time. This is Andrew shorn ready for Summer.
We have also purchased Sadie, Mim, Clay and Bree. Sadie is due to have her Cria in September. Andrew is very happy to now have some friends.
We are now proud owners of 5 Damara sheep (another self shedding breed).
These sheep are hilarious as they look more like a goat than a sheep and they have fat tails.
Their fleece is not a wool type fleece, it's more like hair.
These sheep come in all sorts of colors and have a terrific herding style.
The Damaras live and breed in harsh environments, under poor nutritional conditions and with restricted water. Damaras are good food converters and can have a diverse diet made up of browsing material, shrubs and also make good use of low nutritional feed.
This makes them ideal as scrub control livestock. Farmers can graze more sheep per hectare.
They don't require shearing, crutching or docking and are very fertile all-season breeders. Ewes can have their first lamb before they are one year old and generally have three lambs in two years. This breed of sheep requires minimal handling, maintenance and produce high quality meat sheep all year round.
Damara sheep originally came from North Africa & the Middle East as early as 3000 BC and have been bred in Australia since 1996.
Damara sheep have the ability to thrive in the most marginal conditions and have really proved their true value during the drought over the past few years.
The Damara’s fat tail is a distinguishing feature it’s also a key to its robust nature and their ability to thrive in these harsh conditions.
Damara sheep can raise a lamb on the fat reserves stored in the ewe's tail.
The tail acts like a camel’s hump storing fat.
When they're in good condition, the tails are fat and wide.
Damaras are able to survive without water for days at a time quite often lactating females only come in to water every three days.
They have a gut metabolism more like Brahman cattle so they've got the ability to turn feed of less quality into meat and muscle.
Due to their strong flocking instincts they require less fencing than other breeds of sheep.
They often graze and move within in sight of each other and rest as a group.
This assists the ewes in defending their young from predators and makes moving the flock easy.
Damara lambs are born with ease and grow rapidly. Tails are not docked as this leads to abnormal fat deposits over the hindquarters.
Fly strike is not a problem and there is no need for crutching as their rear ends are smooth, making them also unattractive to flies.
Twins are common.
Lambing percentages average from 110% to 130%.
They have a high resistance to most sheep diseases & parasites..
Lambs can be weaned from 10 weeks, most producers achieving average target live weight of 35-36 kilograms within four to seven months.
Ewes can cycle again as early as eight weeks after lambing.
Ewes have outstanding mothering instincts. If she has a lamb, rarely will you ever lose that lamb. They are extremely protective and defend their young at all costs.
Damara rams are big and powerful and can breed as young as 3 ½ to 4 months.
Under good feed & conditions a ram can cover up to 150 ewes in a few months.
Damara rams continue to breed over the age of 12 years old.
Rams are left in with the ewes all year round..