Monday, July 25, 2011

Fat Rumped Sheep

Typically when people think if sheep they think of a classic looking animal with white wool, and a docked tail.  When shown an image of a Fat Rumped sheep they think the poor thing has some sort of growth, but fat rumped, and fat tailed sheep represent about 20 - 25 % of the entire sheep population on the planet, most being the the Middle East, Africa, India, and parts of China. 

Fat rumped, and fat tailed sheep, are not new, they have been around before Biblical times, and are very adapted to their environments and a nomidic lifestyle in harsh conditions.  They are among the more unusual types of sheep.

photo source

Fat rumped, and fat tailed sheep do not have their tails docked, over time these areas get larger.  These sheep store fat in their tails, or rumps, much like a camel stores fat in its hump.  Few people know this, but donkeys store fat in the same way, along the sides of the crest of their neck.  The tails, or rumps, have been used in cooking, but is less popular now than years ago when other cooking oils and fats were harder to get.

Some of the more common breeds include the Blackhead Persian, which is a hair sheep, the Awassi, and the Karakul sheep, whom we have talked about before due to the cruel industry of harvesting fetal lambs.

Fat rumped, and fat tailed sheep are very exotic, and a bit funny looking to people who have not seen them before, but they are ideally suited to life in harsher desert areas. 

Read more, and see more pictures, of fat rumped, and fat tailed sheep, by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Facts about the Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic sheep are a medium size breed of wool sheep that come from Iceland.  They are the decendants of sheep brought over to Iceland by the Vikings.  Icelandic sheep have naturally short tails which are not docked in North America as this disqualifies them from being registered.

Some Icelandic sheep are polled (have no horns) and others are non-polled (have horns), and horns can occur in both genders. These sheep come in many colors, with black, and patterned, sheep being common, as well as shades of brown. The Icelandic sheep have clean faces (not woolly), and clean legs. Some producers will shear their Icelandic sheep twice a year, once in the late winter, and again in the early fall.

photo source

The fleece of an Icelandic sheep consists of a soft undercoat, known as thel, and a longer coarse outer coat, known as tog. Thel is very soft and often used for baby clothes, tog is ideal for weaving. The two are sometimes used together as lopi.

The fleece of an Icelandic sheep is low in lanolin and often considered to be of good quality. Their wool is often used for carpets.

The Icelandic sheep breed is over 1,100 years old and have a reputation for being cold hardy, and tough.  Their hardiness comes as a result of natural breeding, and selected breeding, in the harsh climate, and environment, that is Iceland, a country where grain is not produced, and summer is relatively short.

Icelandic sheep are very prolific, often having twins or triplets, often producers prefer ewes to only have a single for their first year.

In North America Icelandic sheep are registered with the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation, and must be tattooed.

More information on Icelandic Sheep:

About Horns on Sheep

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Newest Chicks

In the spring my husband bought me a pair of bantam Cochin Chickens.  I have always wanted Cochins, but we just never managed to get them for some reason or another.  I was really excited, not only are Cochins a super cute breed of chicken, but they are known for being a really good breed for raising chicks - that is to say Cochin hens are known for being broody.

My husband and I have never raised chicks from eggs yet, we always bought mature birds, although one time we did buy week old chicks - most turned out to be roosters so we sold those.

As the summer went on I was worried, the hen laid many eggs, but was not sitting on them.  I know a hen will  usually lay many eggs before sitting on them but got worried when she kept laying other batches of eggs in other areas of her coop.  I had no choice but to wait.  One day in June I did not see her in the pen, and soon realized she was indeed finally sitting on the eggs.  I had no idea how many eggs she had under her. 

For the next 21 days we waited.  Then on July 12, when I came home I noticed something was different, indeed mother Cochin had hatched out some chicks, and one had even fallen from the coop.  I picked that one up and it rushed under its mother to get warm.  We didn't disturb mother hen to see how many she had but were certain it was at least 4.

The following day we found out that mother hen had 9 chicks.  We put the chick starter, as well as a dish of food for the hen, in the coop.  We also put a very shallow dish of water in for them, knowing chicks can drown or get chilled if wet.

A couple of days later, mother hen took her little ones out of the coop and into the fenced yard to look around, it was the first day it had not rained here in ages.  The chicks seemed to enjoy it and stayed fairly close to mother hen.  Both the hen and rooster kept a watchful eye on all nine chicks.

If you are planning on keeping chickens and letting them raise chicks be sure you have a pen that is strong and the wire is such that the tiny chicks cannot get out.  You need to have chick starter for the little ones too, and be sure there is no water that they can fall into or even shallow water that will wet them and give them a chill.

Read more here:  Raising Pet Cochin Chickens
Why Won't My Chicken Eggs Hatch?