GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE BREEDS
United Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc.
Most sheep will graze peacefully and stay well contained in a pasture or paddock with a 4 foot high
fence. Higher fences may be needed depending on your particular flock. When fencing, make
sure fence is erected to keep predators out as well as keeping sheep in. Fencing with a mesh
type pattern is recommended. When startled, the sheep will flock together and if chased some
individuals may leap, run, and possibly clear a 4 foot high fence. They are usually more athletic
than wool sheep or larger hair sheep such as the Katahdin or Dorper sheep so they can and will
run faster and leap higher and are beautiful and graceful as they jump and seem to fly.
While the sheep breeds represented by United Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc., can be
naturally wild and flighty, the sheep can become very docile when handled and individual sheep
may have a docile and friendly disposition even without a lot of handling. Bottle raised ewes can
make great pets if cared for properly. Bottle feeding ram lambs is not recommended unless it is
to save the ram lamb's life as at maturity some bottle fed rams could become aggressive.
Castrating the ram lambs that have been bottle fed may assist with fending off aggressive
behavior, but it will also stop the horn growth.
Painted Desert and Texas Dall sheep have been halter broke and exhibited and shown at live
sheep shows with great success. They have held their own in the show ring, competing against
other breeds and placing as top breeds in several open breeding shows. While most show
breeders will not work with their rams everyday to prevent aggressive behavior, the more you work
with your ewe flock and are around them, generally the more calm the sheep will be around you.
In fact, many breeders who interact with their ewes everyday find that some ewes can become
quite friendly while you are holding the grain buckets!
Just like all breeds of sheep, the sheep can sense when it is time for medicine and no matter how
friendly they have been, they will probably run away from you! Most breeders use a catch pen or
smaller area for checking their sheep and doing health maintenance. Catch pens can be
homemade from items you already have or purchased from equipment stores. It is nice to have
your catch pen to be higher than 4 feet to prevent sheep from escaping by jumping.
Lambs and Ewes will run and play. One of the most wonderful, happy, and rewarding sights is to
watch the lambs run and play "king of the mountain". The sheep love to climb and jump and
chase each other. This observed behavior, in conjunction with hands on checking of the sheep as
required, can also let you know that the sheep are feeling good. Sheep that move slowly, or that
can not keep up with the flock should be examined to determine problem.
MOTHERING AND LAMBING
These sheep are generally excellent mothers with twins, triplets and the rare quadruplets being
produced. Mouflon ewes will produce only single lambs with the rare twin occurring. In cases of
multiple lambs, most ewes can easily take care of all offspring. Breeders will monitor the
situation when multiple births occur and ensure that all the lambs have gotten a first drink and
continue to receive enough milk. Gestation dates run from 142 - 155 days generally, with an
average of 150 days being the best estimate from time of breeding to time of lambing. NM Dahl
sheep tend toward the 155 day mark. If a marking harness is used, breeding dates can be
recorded and you will have a good idea of what day lambs will arrive.
Some breeders lamb in barns or lambing jugs, while other breeders have their ewes lamb out on
pasture. Others do a combination where the ewes lamb outside in shelter and are brought in for
a couple of days to make sure the lambs are doing well. If you lamb during the winter or times of
wet and cool weather, make sure that the lambs are able to get dried off quickly or are in a dry,
warmer place until they are dried off. While these sheep are hardy, all newborn lambs could
become chilled quickly in the right conditions. Some breeders place all first time mothers in a
lambing jug or stall for a day or so to make sure she will accept and care for lambs and has
enough milk for them.
WEANING: Lambs are ready for weaning around 10 - 12 weeks of age with Mouflon lambs'
weaning age tending toward the longer period. While some ewes will wean their lambs on their
own, others will not so it is best to remove the lambs at 12 weeks of age, especially for ram
lambs. If both ewe and ram lambs are weaned at the same time, the weanlings should be
separated by gender during the weaning process.
BREEDING: Ram Lambs have been known to breed as early as age 3 to 4 months of age.
Removing the ram lambs from all ewes, including weanling ewe lambs, at age 12 weeks is the
only way to ensure accurate identification of which ram is the sire to the next lambs which is a
must for registered stock. Weaning ram lambs at 12 weeks of age and keeping them separate
from weanling ewe lambs will also prevent the ewe lambs from breeding too early.
Ewe lambs generally start cycling between 5 - 8 months and as young as 4 months of age. Some
breeders will wait until after the ewe lambs are 1 year old to expose them to a ram while others
plan for the first lambing to occur as or after the ewe lambs turn one year old. At what age to
expose ewe lambs to a ram for breeding, should be dependent upon the size in comparison to
the parents, condition, and health of the ewe lamb. Using smaller sized rams for the first
breeding can be helpful. In addition, good nutrition is invaluable to young expectant ewes.
Depending upon the fertility and drive of the breeding flock sire and time placed with the ewe flock,
one ram can tend to 50 plus ewes. Placing more than one ram in with the ewes at the same time
or within two weeks (more time is preferred) of removing a different breeding flock sire is never
advised for registered flocks as accurate identification of both the sire and dam is required.
PLANNING LAMBING PERIODS: If you would like to have a period of time without lambs, you will
also need to remove the flock sire ram from the ewe flock as these sheep can breed any time of
the year though the rams' activity may decrease during the hottest months. For example, removing
your ram from the flock during July, August and September will prevent lambs from arriving in
December, January and February and vice versa. Ewe lambs which are not to be bred at the time,
should be removed from the ewe flock when the flock sire is present and not kept with any ram
lambs over the age of 12 weeks.
KEEPING EWES AND RAMS: Some breeders find that having another ram to keep the flock sire
company after his time with the ewes to be beneficial if you do remove your flock sire. You would
need at least another ram or older ram lamb to keep the "companion ram" company during the
time when the flock sire is in with the ewes. It is advisable, if you keep the rams away from the
ewes, to have an area between the rams and the ewes.
Mature rams generally tolerate ram lambs and breeders can keep weaned ram lambs and their
mature rams together. There are mature rams that will not tolerate young rams or even ram
lambs so the rams would then need to be kept separate based on age to prevent injury or death to
other younger rams.
Whenever introducing new rams, especially yearlings and mature rams, into a ram pen or
pasture, it is best to arrange a small area in which to contain the rams so they do not have enough
room to seriously hurt each other as they adjust to each other and decide who is in charge. Ewes
also can be seen adjusting to each other and deciding who is "top ewe of the pasture" at times,
but without the large horns and strength of a ram, they are much less likely to injure each other.
HEALTH MANAGEMENT: Work with your local veterinarian and talk with other sheep breeders in
your areas to plan out a health management plan as the health care of your sheep can be very
farm specific. Corsican, Desert Sand, Painted Desert, Texas Dall, Black Hawaiian, Multi-horned
Hair and NM Dahl Sheep are generally more able to withstand internal parasites than sheep with
wool, but certain individuals may need more or less attention. Hair Sheep are also more immune
to problems with external parasites.
Deworming schedules are different in each area and can be very farm specific. Check with your
local veterinarian about your area and recommended deworming schedules. Wet, moist and
humid areas may require more frequent dewormings than areas that are low in humidity and
much drier. For one of the major internal parasites of all sheep and goats, a system called
FAMACHA was developed in South Africa. Talk to your local veterinarian and/or do stool samples
to determine if Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm) is of concern on your farm and learn
about the FAMACHA system.
Proper hoof care is important. Dependent upon your soil type and environment, your sheep may
not ever need to have their hooves trimmed, while other sheep at other farms based on the soil
and environment may need to have hooves trimmed two or three times a year. Some individual
sheep tend to grow their hooves faster than others.
|THIS website is copyright May 2009 by United Horned Hair Sheep Association, Inc.
Active Members of UHHSA are permitted to use information on their website to help in
ethical and honest promotion and education about the breeds represented. However,
a link to this website should be provided.
Pictures are copyrighted by owners of the sheep pictured and permission will need to
be sought to use the pictures.
|INFORMATION about the Nature, Lambing, Mothering
and General Flock Management for Painted Desert,
Texas Dalls, Black Hawaiian, Corsican,
Desert Sand, Multi-horned Hair, NM Dahl
and Mouflon Sheep