Monday, February 17, 2014

Sheep That Need No Improvement

Different breeds of sheep are sometimes referred to as "improved" or "unimproved". The term "unimproved" usually refers to sheep that are also called "heritage breeds" or "primitive breeds". Jacob sheep are one such breed and I prefer the term heritage. Basically this means that the breed retains and has been bred to retain its early characteristics, rather than being bred towards one specific purpose and a narrower range of genetic traits. The practical reality is a sheep that is hardy and thrifty with good mothering ability. In the pictures at left
and right, respectively are two ewes aged 2 years and 11 years
. The two-year-old is a first time lambing ewe that lambed on Feb 2 and the 11-year old lambed Feb 12 (during a particularly nasty winter storm). Both of these ewes lambed easily on pasture and did not need to be put in a mothering pen (meaning much less work for me). This is my kind of sheep and clearly needs no improvement.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sheep in Winter

Sheep seem to just take things in stride. Today (my birthday) we are having an unusual winter storm. It isn't usual to get much snow in the piedmont of North Carolina, and even more unusual to get snow in February. As the weather moved in we were busily putting out extra hay, more bedding in the shelters, and seeing that plenty of unfrozen water is available.
All the while, the sheep were busily snacking at their supplement tub (extra energy and minerals because they are within a month of lambing) and eating their hay. They also don't mind the snow nearly as much as I do (note snow on their backs) and will often sleep outside of their shelters during a snow storm.