Everything You Need to Know About Hair Sheep

For the last 6 years we have been raising hair sheep as a part of our ranch. It first started as a side hobby for myself, but grew very quickly over those years as I acquired more sheep, different breeds and worked on making a very nice hair sheep breed. As homesteading and backyard hobby farmers keeps on growing so does the demand for these easy-to-care for sheep. Sometimes it’s hard to find information about hair sheep since they are up-and-coming, so I’ve decided to try to provide as much information as I possibly can in one place for you to know how to buy, raise and sell hair sheep.

Here is a short list of the most popular hair sheep breeds out there:

  • St. Croix
  • Dorper
  • Katahdin
  • Barbados
  • Royal White

Here is a list of why people are getting into hair sheep:

  • No need to sheer
  • Adaptable
  • Heat tolerant
  • Parasite resistent
  • Rarely need feet trimmed
  • Hoof rot uncommon
  • Easy lambing
  • Multiple babies
  • Great mothers
  • Prolific/very fertile
  • Can be bred year round
  • Can be bred twice a year
  • Eat a wide variety of forage
  • Low maintenance

Now I’ll explain each of these areas in detail:

Heat/Cold tolerant, No Need to Sheer: Most hair sheep originate from tropical regions, which is why they are able to shed their hair and allows them to breed twice a year. Despite being a tropical breed they have adapted very well to North America. People all over the United States north to south raise hair sheep and do well in warmer and colder environments. If you live in a part of the USA that gets cold during the winter, these sheep will grow a thick coat of wool during the winter, but don’t worry, they will shed it off during the spring. We have some really cold winters up here in the northwest and the sheep have always done exceptionally well. The ability to shed is dependent on the breed and who you are buying sheep from. Certain breeds shed faster and cleaner than some of the others, but they will all shed to a certain degree. Shedding ability is also an indicator of health, so if certain sheep do not shed completely or shed much later than other sheep it can indicate that they might not be as healthy as the other sheep are.

Parasite Resistant: One of the glorious advantages of hair sheep is that they are highly parasite resistant. Once again, certain hair breeds are more parasite resistant than others, but overall they are much better off than standard wool sheep breeds. If you are looking at hair sheep and they have very poopy butts then I would recommend staying away and not purchasing. It doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot be cured, but it means they are less likely to be resistant to parasites and could bring parasites to your property. In the 6 years we have had hair sheep we have NEVER wormed them. Keeping sheep on the same pasture all season increases your chances of parasites, so try to offer rotation to your pasture if possible and try not to bring them back to the same part of the pasture for 30 days, especially if you have problems with parasites.

Rarely Need Feet Trimmed: Hair sheep typically have slower growing hooves. I find that my sheep almost never need their feet trimmed before they are 3 years of age, if they are on soft pasture all the time their feet will eventually need trimmed, but not very often. Grain fed sheep also have faster growing hooves, so stay away from the grain if at all possible.

Hoof Rot is Uncommon: Again with the hooves. Hoof rot is very uncommon in hair sheep. Out of the 50 ewes we run I might have 2 a year that need their feet looked at and usually it’s a rock lodged in between their hooves that causes them to limp. Once again, hoof rot is very similar to the parasites. If they are in mud/manure or the same pasture too long the likeliness of hoof rot rises.

Great Lambing/Good Mothers: Mothering instinct is extremely important in all animals and reduces your chances of lambing issues and baby rejection issues. Hair sheep are extremely well known for easy lambing and multiple babies. It is very rare to have to intervene with the lambing process. I always recommend people to not keep time and to not watch too closely, because they almost never need help, but if you sit and watch them give birth you’ll be tempted to think they are not doing well and need a lamb pulled. If you see a sheep lambing and come back several hours later and see she is still lambing, then it might be time to step in, but several hours of labor is not uncommon for sheep. I find most of my hair sheep will have singles their first birth, twins their second birth and twins or triplets following the second birth. Once again, that’s breed dependent, but overall hair sheep are capable of multiple births and caring for multiple babies. Bottle babies are rare, but if/when it does happen it usually is with a momma that had triplets. It is always fun to see these sheep lamb and immediately start taking care of their babies. They will lamb out on pasture (as long as you are lambing at a decent time of year for weather) and usually do not have trouble finding their own babies (I have never jugged my sheep to lamb, they lamb out on spring pasture).

Very Prolific/Fertile: These sheep are so fertile, sometimes it’s frustrating! If your ram gets in with your ewes for a couple hours, the ewes will start cycling and several of them will get bred in that short period of time (guess how I know?). Intact ram lambs need to be pulled from the herd at 3 months of age to prevent breeding. Ewes can cycle as soon as a month after giving birth. Ewe lambs can start cycling between 5-6 months old and get bred and have lambs by their first birthday. They have a 5 month gestation period. These sheep are baby makers!

Can Be Bred Twice Year/ Can Breed Year Round: If you don’t believe me that hair sheep can be bred twice a year or year round, just leave your ram in year round and see how many lambs you have throughout the year! I have seen people leave their wool sheep rams in year round with their sheep and they will only lamb once a year, this is NOT so with hair sheep. It is possible to breed these sheep twice a year, but I personally do not do it. It is harder on the mom and it lowers her chance of multiple babies, especially if you live in an area that gets harder winters. If you breed twice a year you really only get 1 1/2 lamb crops which means you will never consistently have lambs at the same time twice a year. You might end up lambs in Feb/Oct, but next year it’ll be Mar/Nov. I like one big lamb crop once a year, but some people like to space their lambing out throughout the year.

Eat a wide variety of forage: A lot of people mistake these sheep as goats. I get it. Some of them have a lot resemblance to a goat, but they are a far cry from a goat. Unlike a goat, hair sheep will actually eat grass, but is not just limited to grass. They love clover and alfalfa. They also really appreciate leafy things like trees, bushes and willows. They will eat certain weeds, but not all weeds.

Low Maintenance: With everything you just read above you can see that these sheep are pretty low maintenance. I have found they eat very little when they are dry (without babies sucking) and will eat a lot more when lactating. They are lightweight and typically very easy to handle. They are perfect sheep for someone who has never had farm animals before and require very little care.

Now lets talk about the different breeds

St. Croix: When I first started into hair sheep I bought St. Croix’s. I still have remaining genetics of them in my herd and still love the breed to this day. They are typically very gentle and lightweight (maxing out at 150 lbs for the ewes and the rams 200 lbs). They are awesome mothers (multiple babies) and are very resistant to parasites and diseases. However, they are very slow growing and their lambs take anywhere from 8 months to a year to be “finished out,” and even then it is a very small carcass topping out at 45 lbs hanging weight. Their meat is extremely mild and has been sought after as some of the best tasting lamb available. You can eat 2 year old+ ewes and still have a very mild pleasurable eating experience. Great backyard breed, purebred St. Croix’s are white in color and have a nice uniform look to the flock. Rams are “polled” meaning, no horns, but sometimes grow small “scurs” which are hard deposits on the head that do not grow more than 3 inches long. Highly recommended if coming from a good source.

Barbados: I feel like these sheep should be labeled “the crazy one’s.” They are like St. Croix’s in almost every respect except for temperament. I’m sure there are some nice gentle one’s out there that people have tamed down, but overall they are a very flighty breed. Also, the rams grow massive curly horns, so if you are looking for something really cool to display on your wall in a few years then raise a ram up for a few years!


Dorper: We now run a mix of full Dorpers and St. Croix’s on our ranch. The reason was very obvious for adding the Dorper and that was for weight and muscle. Dorper’s are by far the closest hair sheep to the wool breed. They have woolier coats and are slower to shed (most of them). There are black headed Dorpers (most common) and white Dorpers (harder to find). They have incredible growth of lambs at butcher weight within 6-8 months with carcass weights in the 45-60 lb range. Their frames are much wider and have a large depth of body, which allows them to put on weight very fast. Dorper’s are typically set low to the ground and ewes are closer to 200 lbs with rams weighing 300 lbs +. With all that amazing weight gain comes draw backs. They are less likely to have several babies (though most of them will have twins after their first or second birth) and they are more likely to have lambing difficulties. I have also found that they can be “jumpers” which I very rarely saw in the St. Croix’s, this means that when put into a tight situation they are more likely to try to jump over you (or into you) than some of the other breeds. Rams are “polled” meaning, no horns, but sometimes grow small “scurs” which are hard deposits on the head that do not grow more than 3 inches long. If you are looking for a high weight gaining lamb, then Dorper’s might be your choice.

Katahdin: I have bought and sold sheep throughout the years and I have had a few Katahdin’s. They are a very nice mix between a St. Croix and Dorper. Good mother instincts, good weight gains (but not as good as the Dorper’s) and a pretty good disposition. They are a mixed bag of sheep and never look the same, so if you are looking to uniformity, then this not your breed. They come in dark/light brown, black, white, spotted, and everything in between! Rams are “polled” meaning, no horns, but sometimes grow small “scurs” which are hard deposits on the head that do not grow more than 3 inches long. They are a very common hair breed and typically easy to find.

Royal White: Royal Whites are the perfect mix between Dorper’s and St. Croix. The Royal White is around 75% Dorper and 25% or less St. Croix. This is basically the mix that I am trying to make myself, but Royal Whites are extremely difficult to find, so I figured I can make my own. They are an actual trademarked breed, so you can’t “make them” they have to be bought from the original stock… Too difficult to find, but if you can get your hands on some they are really nice sheep.

If you’ve bothered reading all of this you are probably wondering how to look for and buy a good hair sheep.

Here are some good tips on buying hair sheep. 

Know what you are looking for: If you read through my post above you probably have a pretty good idea of what breed you are looking for, so just start that as your baseline for breeds you are looking for.

How many can your property handle: I always recommend starting out with less than more. If you barely have grass growing you are going to have a hard time keeping your sheep happy and your going to have to buy hay. Typically assume 5 sheep/acre to start with (if irrigated ground).

Decide your price range: This is a big one. If you are looking for 5 sheep for $500 then you are going to have to settle on lower quality sheep. If you are willing to spend $200-$300/ewe then you will be looking in a higher quality range, generally speaking.

Talk to the seller on the phone: Does the seller sound like they know anything about sheep? I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy from someone who doesn’t know anything, but if you are looking for quality sheep and the seller doesn’t even know what breed they have or basics on sheep care, then you might want to look elsewhere.

Assess the property you are buying from: Are the sheep covered in manure/mud or sitting in a muddy nasty pen? Have they been fed junk (moldy hay, bread, scraps?). Some times the time of year is muddy or nasty, but usually you can get a “feel” of the property on how well it’s kept up and the condition of the animals. If it’s nasty, there’s a good chance a disease might be coming home with your sheep so stay away.

The quality of the sheep: What’s the history on the sheep? Is the seller being honest and open about problems with the sheep. Most sellers (even quality sellers) don’t typically sell their best stock, so they are going to be selling the lower end of their sheep (unless they are selling everything), so ask them why they are particularly selling those sheep and if they have had any issues lambing or other health issues. Are they healthy looking? (things to look for: snotty noses, bad eyes, limping, poopy butts, not completely shed during the summer). Were they bottle fed lambs or raised by their mom’s? I would recommend staying away from bottle fed lambs because that means they didn’t have a mom to learn things from and are typically pets. Doesn’t mean they cannot turn out to be good mothers, but it lessens their chances and usually their rumen isn’t developed as well, because they are raised on formula instead of momma’s milk. Certainly do not buy a ram that was bottle fed!

Temperament of sheep: As I discussed earlier the temperament of sheep is based on genetics and prior handling. Typically younger sheep are more skid-dish and older sheep are more gentle. You might want to consider buying an older ewe if you are planning on buying a whole bunch of young ewes. There are two extremes on temperament of sheep and you want to look for something in the middle. There are the pets: people hand feed their sheep and they are very friendly, this can be a good and a bad thing. I do not recommend rams being pets, they have little respect for humans and can be very aggressive as they get older. Ewes that are pets are not usually as bad, but can overly friendly and constantly following you or in your space, once again a respect issue. The other end of the spectrum is crazy pants. They see you coming from the other side of the pasture and they take off running. These sheep typically do not respect fences and are extremely hard to handle or get into a pen and are most likely to jump over you or at you when trying to get away. The middle ground is best. I have a few sheep that are trained to me shaking a bucket of grain and will come to me, but the rest keep their distance. They have the right “pressure points” and go the direction you generally want them to with the proper spacing and distance.

Here’s some good questions to ask the seller:

  • What breed of sheep do you have?
  • What is the age range of the sheep?
  • How much for the sheep?
  • What have you been feeding them?
  • When were they exposed to the ram? Or are they open (not bred)?
  • Any issues they have had with the sheep?
  • What type of fencing are they in? (woven wire, barbed wire, electric fence, hog panels?)
  • What is their vaccination record?
  • Have they ever been wormed?
  • How many handling have they received? (this’ll help you understand their temperament).
  • How many lambs do they typically have?
  • Why are they selling them?

I hope this is helpful to you as you look to add or change breeds of sheep. Please comment below if you have any questions!


53 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Hair Sheep”

    1. Great information. I went to Cal Polly in San Luis Obispo Calif. and a Animal Husbandry major. Much more interesting information than I learned in 58-62.

    1. thiswesternlife

      We only give one vaccine to our sheep and it’s when the lambs are about 2-3 weeks old we give them a tetanus based vaccine, since we have only seem lose lambs to tetanus. After that we never vaccinate the sheep, some people will continue to vaccinate the ewes every year, but we haven’t found any reason to. A basic sheep mineral is good to have free choice for your sheep, that is really based on your pasture situation. If you have a very healthy pasture the sheep will need very little mineral, but if you have a very poor soil pasture then you sheep might go crazy over the mineral. Sheep are very good at letting you know what they need. If you put out mineral and they eat it very quickly that means they need mineral, but if they hardly touch it, it usually means they are doing very well.

    1. thiswesternlife

      Yes, we have been line breeding for years. The size of your flock makes a difference and if you acquired your flock from the same place. I bought sheep over several years from different places so I have quite a diversity of bloodlines, so for the last 3 years I’ve been taking rams from my own flock (over 60 ewes), so there is a lot of diversity. If you keep track it’s obviously best not to keep rams from the same mother every year and breeding to sisters, etc. But pulling rams from a well diversified flock is a great way to build up desirable traits in your flock. Please remember to cull hard and not keep poor stock that does not perform when choosing rams.

  1. I just got s 4 day old bottle fed ram st Croix. The seller gave me a gallon of the colostrum to feed it but it’s other end matter is like peanut brittle. How do I help him. I try to clean every time he tries to go but it’s so sticky and hardens very quickly as well. Is there a trick to clean him ?

    1. Usually their mom’s would clean that up, so you will need to clean that up for them until their stools gets harder :/

    2. Sheep only absorb colostrum optimally for the first 12 hours of life, some say 24 hrs. A gallon of colostrum? Are you sure it isn’t milk?

  2. Thanks for putting all this info on here… I am just starting with a small flock of Katahdins in Saskatchewan, and found your article a very interesting read!
    We are predominately a grain farm but want to try taking one quarter section out of grain and growing grass on it. Then we plan to run the sheep on it for a year and rotate to another quarter the following year. Just easing our way into ‘regenerative farming’. Lol
    Our biggest concern is predator control. We are wanting to avoid putting up permanent fences, as the sheep will only be in there for a year and fences are a pain in the ass with large equipment. Do you think the portable sheep netting and a couple of LGD’s would be sufficient to keep the coyotes away?
    Thanks again!

    1. If you used portable sheep netting I would highly doubt you would need LGD’s. If that fence is hot then the coyotes won’t want to bother! We use 2 strand electric fence, which is enough to keep the sheep in, but not enough for the coyotes, so we use llamas for protection.

    2. We have two donkeys. Never lost a sheep. Don’t have to feed donkeys. They just graze. They will kill all predators.

    1. thiswesternlife

      Either poor nutrition or poor genetics. Usually I err on the side of genetics. I clearly have some sheep that are amazing at shedding and a few that have trouble losing their coat.

  3. What is your general harvest procedures? Do you harvest by age and leave a specific percentage as inventory? In general, what kind of return should someone expect after establishing a herd?
    Thanks in advance,

    1. thiswesternlife

      I harvest based on what looks ready. Usually a large single whether lamb from a Dorper is ready in about 6-8 months, but a single St. Croix lamb can take 10-12 months. It only usually takes one breeding season to make back your money on your breeding stock and then another year you should be making money on the lamb crop. I find it only costs me about $100 or less to raise a lamb, but I make anywhere from $150-$200 on them.

  4. Which breed has better meat flavor. We do not like the traditional sheep meet flavor and our neighbors raise a dorper Katahdin cross and tell us the flavor is nothing like mutton.

    1. thiswesternlife

      I think all the hair sheep breeds are going to be similar in taste. I have been extremely impressed with the flavor. I have eaten sheep as old as 3 years old and LOVED the taste. I personally like 2 year olds. They have lots of meat and very good flavor, but not overwhelming mutton flavor.
      Anything crossed with a wool sheep is potentially going to bring in off flavors. Wool sheep lambs need to be eaten within a year of age in order to not start acquiring the mutton flavor.

  5. What kind of hair sheep would you recommend? I’m looking for one that sheds clean and lambs easily. I like the looks of the Dorper’s And the royal whites but just don’t know what breed would be the easiest to raisw

    1. thiswesternlife

      St. Croix are by far the most hands off, but one of the slower ones to grow. I currently have a 3/4 dorper 1/4 St. Croix cross that I have been breeding for a few years. I am still working at getting a really nice mix. The St. Croix brings in some very hardly genetics. Katahdin’s are really nice too, if you don’t mind the diverse colors.

  6. Hi what about permanent 4’ fence. Will that keep coyotes out. And is a mix breed sheep dog better than a pure breed dog?

    1. thiswesternlife

      Yes a 4′ fence should work great for sheep. As far as sheep dog do you mean border collie or Livestock guardian like a Pyrenees?

    1. thiswesternlife

      As far as I know they should be fine to run together. I’ve heard that sheep and goat mineral are different so you need to make sure one isn’t toxic to the other if you are trying to feed it to them both.

      1. Copper in goat mineraĺs is toxic to sheep from what I have heard. Plesse double check this, and copper is available for your goats in a bolus or pill form..

  7. Looking to start a small herd (half dozen or so) that will rotate between two paddocks of two acres each. No irrigation… yet. Raising the meat for our own freezer. What is a good grass mix for them and should I cover crop as well? Also, we live in NW Montana. Are there any precautions we should make once the temps drop below -20F? Our current mutton mafia of weed eaters (dwarf nigerain goats) tolerate it just fine but will shelter in the barn when the winds get bad.

    1. Good questions. There are only a few grasses that my sheep don’t care for very much such as fescue, but any good mix of clovers, alfalfa, orchard grass, hairy vetch are all good forages for sheep. We had a very rough winter a few years ago, where it never got above freezing for 2 weeks and there was 12 inches of snow on the ground and we still couldn’t get our sheep to go into the barn unless we forced them. I’d say just give them a wind break if you’d like (that could just be a few bales of hay) but don’t get too worried about shelter. Of course, I don’t know the background of your sheep and how tolerant they are, but hair sheep are pretty hardy all the way around. Just don’t lamb in the early spring. Wait until May or June in your country.

  8. Is it a good idea to sheer a ( Yearling-Long Haired sheep, IF It hasn’t shed it’s coat the 1st. Yr. ) ??? IT appears VERY healthy & IS breeding- Reddish in color on it’s legs & face w / white blaze ! Quite Large for a yearling- Hair DOES Look MORE like Wool, then Hair ?? ALL the rest that came w / him are Haired Sheep ??

    1. thiswesternlife

      If the lamb was born in the winter it’ll likely retain a long coat its first year. It certainly won’t hurt to sheer it, but most likely also has some issues retaining hair, which is an undesirable trait.

  9. Thank you for a wonderful article. I am going to be getting a small flock of hair sheep. There are 2 ram lambs (Katahdin) that I have my eye on to buy but they are not registered. Will that make a big difference in the selling of the lambs or is that mainly used for the selling of breeding stock? Is the market good for lambs year round?

    1. thiswesternlife

      It’s hard for me to speak on the market anymore. We have our own pasture-raised meat business at this point, so I direct market all my sheep through our meat business. However, prior to that I sold everything on Craigslist. It only takes one time taking them to the sale yard and getting beat up on prices before you decide to do that again. However, if you watch the time of the year it is more popular to sell around Easter time, Mexican and Islamic holidays.

      1. Thank you for your reply. Sorry for the repeat question following this one, I have computer issues and didn’t know if this went through or not. I’m very impressed with what you are doing and sharing with all of us out here. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for a wonderful article, very helpful. If I sell lambs for breeding stock, is it best to have a registered herd? I have my eye on 2 ram lambs (Katahdin’s), neither are registered. Should I keep looking?

  11. Do ALL ( Long-Haired sheep ) Lose their hair the 1st. yr. I have a ” Rouge de Roussillion Buck sheep ” He is a BIG Yearling ( RED ) w / white blaze face. He HAS NOT lost his hair yet ?????

  12. What do I do about predators? I currently have llamas which are too big for predators to bother, but the sheep?

    1. thiswesternlife

      llamas are actually supposed to be good protection animals. I have one with my sheep that was raised with them and she doesn’t even know she’s a llama. However, as far as protection goes? They are not the best, but they do offer some resistance to coyotes.

      You can always get a LGD (livestock guardian dog), but you need to make sure you have an actual predator problem in the first place. If you live in a fairly populated area then predators will not be as big of an issue and a LGD can actually cause you more problems then be helpful.

      We went 7 years without a LGD and we run our sheep on over 200 acres in a very rural setting. It wasn’t until 2 years ago we got a major out-of-balance of coyotes and they became very bold and started killing full grown sheep. That’s when we decided to get a LGD. However, it hasn’t been without issues. He has killed a fair share of lambs in the process of learning how to protect them, so it’s not for the faint of heart!

      Do your research on LGD’s before purchasing one and once again. Ask yourself. Do I really have predator problems? (dead chickens, frequent sightings of coyotes or other predators, etc).

  13. I have a Katahadin ewe and the color of her coat had changed from black to a copper red color is this her winter coat coming in or is this some kind of deficiency

    1. thiswesternlife

      Yep! I’ve seen it myself. It is really amazing. Once they are acclimated to an area they do great!

  14. Thank you for your information. I have a small farm (5 acres) in the Northern Sierra Nevada. I bought two hair sheep “lambs”(one ewe, one weather, St Croix mixed with Barbados) last year with the primary purpose of having them eat certain weeds that are invasive/hard to control in my horse pasture and orchard. The breeder lives in the desert north of Reno, Nevada and claims they out-perform his neighbor’s goats in eating sagebrush! So far they eat 2 out of the 3 weeds I have in mind for them. They are also very entertaining.
    My question is that I would like to felt their hair/wool. There seems to be a considerable amount of wool in with the hairs so I think it might work. I’m retired so I have time to play with this idea. Has anyone done this? Any easy (non-shearing) way to collect their hair (which they are now shedding)?

    1. thiswesternlife

      Well, if they are currently shedding you can usually pin them in a corner and pull their wool off. Have you tried that? It really only works when they are in full shedding mode.

  15. I’m about to get 5 royal white ewes and 1 unrelated ram lamb. Should I separate my ram lamb and only breed in the fall and possibly buy a wether companion for him? Thanks!

    1. thiswesternlife

      It all depends on when you want to lamb. If you leave him in long enough he will eventually breed your ewes once he is about 3-4 months old. Ewes don’t typically start cycling until 6 months. They are quite fine with being a loner, but just remember if you keep them separated make sure it’s secure enough and far enough away from the ewes so you don’t have any breakouts.

  16. I know there is some difference of opinion, but I believe that Barbados Blackbellys are polled (no horns). After they were first imported to Texas, they were crossed with horned sheep for trophy hunting, and called American Blackbelly. One registry separately registers both Barbados and American from registered parentage. Another registry calls both polled and horned Blackbellys Barbados, and does not require registered parentage, which implies to me that it is only a revenue source. I think it is important to maintain the original polled Barbados, and not dilute the breed with the crossbreds.

    1. thiswesternlife

      Either way. Every one that I have ever been around have been very wild and very skinny. It all depends on their purpose. If their purpose is for weed control and targeted grazing then they are probably a good breed to consider.

  17. Ah, this article helps so much. And you have been so gracious with comment responses, thank you.

    I have 2 acres, 1 of it is cross fenced pastures. I would like to get St croix’s, primary for grass management. I don’t care so much about breeding or eating. Would you recommend only ewes, in that case? Do they have to be bred or can they live out their lives as happy, single and childfree…like I am? Any other considerations I should take? We’ve got a shelter, space, and it seems like that’s all I need. Is this really too good to be true? If they aren’t bred, do they require milking?

    1. thiswesternlife

      There’s no problem if you don’t want to breed the ewes them. They do act funny when they come into heat if they never get bred, so that’s something to consider, but not very important. No they do not need milked. Some people will buy whethers (castrated males) if they never want to have babies and want a pasture-pet. They don’t cycle and are typically more laid back.

  18. What age should the lambs start shedding? I got a lamb that I was told was pure katahdin but looks like a barbados cross and she’s ten weeks and it’s super hot here but she hasn’t shed and is kinda curly. She also has horn buds, which I didn’t think ewes were supposed to have. We are a small farm and only have three ewes at this point, all 3 from different farms and genetics. Want to keep only the best stock to start with and just worried I may have messed up in getting her. Any info you can give would be so helpful!!

    1. thiswesternlife

      If she’s kinda curly that means she probably has more wool traits in her than hair sheep. However, lambs really don’t shed out until they are almost 1 year old. There’s no harm in breeding her, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend keeping her babies for breeding stock if she does seem to have more wool than hair. We typically always breed for fertility first and then get picky on those types of traits second. So, if they are a really ugly ewe but consistently have twins or triplets without any help and are able to raise fat-healthy lambs, then I don’t worry about. You can have the nicest, fattest, slickest ewe, but if she keeps having single lambs, then we will typically get rid of her first before culling due to wool retention.

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