Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Most Money Spent on an Auction Trip Without Buying Anything

What a year!

Normally I would post an ad for sheep for sale and they all would be gone in a matter of weeks.  This year was a funny year.  The hair sheep ewes sold very quick but the rams were just not selling.  I had some people call and claim they were going to come, then cancel for one reason or another.  I had a lot of people call and ask if they could "butcher them on the farm" which I do not allow.  So as such I had 6 ram lambs and 3 ewe lambs left to sell. 

With only ten acres and a small barn it is not possible to keep more over winter and the rams were fighting each other as it was.

The only other option was to go to the auction.  Every Easter and Canadian Thanksgiving (October) there is a large 3 day auction about 1.5 hours away from where I live, Friday is sheep and goat day.  So we made plans to take the sheep down to the auction, but there was a small problem; the truck was not wired for trailer lights.

So.. first thing we had to do was to take the truck fitted with a light plug for the trailer.  We took it on Monday but the mechanic was busy so we did not get it back until Tuesday.  Fine.. great.. ready to go!


On Wednesday we hooked the truck up to the trailer and noted that the lights were not working on one side of the trailer.  It has been at least 2 years since we have used the trailer so we hauled it to the mechanic on Thursday.  He phoned to say the wires were a mess but since it was an old trailer he would do a "cheap" repair rather than putting too much effort into it.  Well the cheap repair was not cheap, $250.. but at least we were ready to go!


As we were driving to the auction something caught my eye, It looked like the tire flap was shredding and falling off, but soon I realized that it was something different; a flat trailer tire!

We pulled over, being in the middle of nowhere.  We had no idea how to lift the trailer to change the tire so called road side assistance.  They came and put the spare tire on.  But it was flat - so they pumped it up and we were on our way.

By the time we arrived at the auction, already late but at least they had not started selling sheep yet, we noted the tire had gone flat again.  We unloaded the sheep and went straight to the nearest tire place.  They got us fixed up, the spare tire was not even repairable, so we had to buy 2 tires as we did not want to drive home without a spare!  That was $300+.

Now we still do not know how much the sheep sold for and just are hoping it was a good price - but what a heck of a time that was.

All told, plus gas and lunch, I think we spent over $700 just to get the sheep to the auction!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Benefits of Breeding to a Hair Sheep Ram

Fall is typically when sheep producers look for a new breeding ram.

Unless a person is set on breeding sheep for wool (which has lost its value in some areas) or they insist on breeding purebred sheep, there is no reason why a person with wool ewes should not select to breed to a hair sheep ram, in fact there are many advantages of breeding to a hair sheep ram.

Katahdin hair sheep ram

Easier Lambing

Hair sheep tend to have slightly smaller birth weights, which makes for easier lambing and fewer complications.  The lambs are still healthy and strong and, especially with a good milk producing ewe, will grow up well.

Meat Quality

If a person is wanting to sell lambs for meat their are many advantages of selecting a hair breed ram including the fact that ethnic buyers tend to prefer to buy hair sheep because that is what they are more familiar with.  The carcass quality of hair sheep is very good and the flavor is said to be better as well.  Even older hair sheep can be easily marketed for meat.

Less Work

The lambs of hair sheep, and hair sheep crosses, do not need their tails to be docked.  They tend to be shorter and will not get as wooly.  Ethnic buyers prefer to buy lambs that did not have their tails docked.  The ram itself will not need to be sheared in the spring, instead he will shed his hair and be ready for summer.

Hybrid Vigor

By breeding to a ram of a different breed than the ewes a producer can take advantage of a genetic benefit known as hybrid vigor.   This means the lambs are usually genetically more healthy than their parents, and tend to be better sheep.

Health Benefits

Hair sheep tend to be more parasite resistant, and seldom suffer from hoof rot.

Hair sheep x lamb

Hair Sheep Breeds

There are many different hair sheep breeds some of the most common are the Katahdin, Dorper, St. Croix, and Barbado.

Each hair sheep breed is slightly different, some have more color than others, and some have horns, but all have the advantages as listed above and should be considered when selecting a new ram for breeding season.