I am looking into getting a pair of ewes to add to the Green Home Farm. Having looked into sheep a little, we’ve decided that we would like to get some sheep that shed their wool.
The main factors around shedding sheep are:
1. They don’t need to be mulesed;
2. They don’t need their tails docked;
3. They don’t get flystrike (or at least, they are MUCH less likely to); and
4. We don’t have to get a shearer in to shear them.
There is a very good article about Wiltipoll sheep on the Animals Australia website that makes a very good case for shedding sheep.
We’ll be getting sheep to serve two main functions on the farm: Provision of meat for the table, and grazing to reduce grass and improve the soil (with sheep poo).
Our daughters are a bit put off by the idea of raising sheep for slaughter, but it is an important means of reducing our food bill. A pair of ewes will produce lambs annually for us, and the offspring will be sent off-site for slaughter. This should reduce our meat bill quite profoundly.
Additionally, it means that we will know exactly how our food is treated before slaughter. For me personally, I think that it is ethically better to be responsible for the raising of the food for the family’s table.
The ideal sheep for our farm is a Wiltipoll. These sheep are bread from Wiltshire sheep and have been bread for shedding their wool. The wool is a secondary issue for us. We are not going to be spinning the wool, so it is no great loss that the wool produced by the Wiltipoll has no commercial value. The picture here is of ewes with their summer coat (image from Kars Wiltipoll - http://www.wiltipoll.com.au/). The good thing about the Wiltipoll is that we are not sacrificing quality meat for the benefits of sheep that shed.
I remember having a sheep when I was a young lad in suburban Laverton (in Victoria). Her name was “Sheep”. One day, Sheep disappeared and later in the month, we had lots of meat in the fridge. I can’t say that I remember being upset about Sheep, or even noticing (I was about 3 I think).
Still, I need to learn more about how they shed and how to manage the wool that they shed.