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Over the past few years, I have mentioned our sheep a lot and have written a few posts. Well, the day has finally come where we are switching breeds. The switch is from Shetland Sheep to Babydoll Sheep.
There are several key differences in our decision. For those that have small spaces to graze and have been thinking about sheep, the Shetland and the Babydoll have a lot to offer but they are very different sheep.
In this article, I’ll outline the differences between breeds and tell you why we¡ve decided to make the switch.
Babydoll Breed Profile
One thing I noticed about Babydoll Sheep is that there is no weight standard listed on the registry breed description pages. After
The Babydoll has corky legs which means it is impossible for them
I have seen one of our females stand a few inches for just a second but that was it and it only gave her a few inches extra reach. They are too short-legged and bottom-heavy to eat things
We are struggling to keep our Babydolls on a diet because they are cute and want snacks.
While Babydoll Sheep are fairly rounded, ours are
The two sheep
Yep, I got a to-go bag of animal crackers with my sheep purchase. They also got their fair share of grain. We got a good deal and when we
I really hope they will do that sometime because I could tell it really hurt for them to give up their cherished pets.
We bought some Shetland sheep because we wanted a hardy sheep that was affordable. Shetlands are originally from the Shetland Islands in the UK and they produce outstanding wool for those that are into producing fiber.
This is what
The Shetland sheep is
If you feed them a lot of grain, you can add weight to them but they will never have the meaty mass of a breed like the Babydol
Shetland vs Babydoll
Now that you guys are familiar with the different breeds, let’s compare them to find out which is best for your home.
Shetlands are a lot louder and more expressive than Babydoll Sheep. While the Babydolls really love a good snack they don’t make a racket every time they see you with a bucket or small container. Our Shetlands will baa a lot every time. This is pretty annoying and would be more of a problem if we had neighbors closer to us.
The Babydoll sheep can baa but they don’t really do it unless something is super upsetting to them. Our little ram lamb makes a little noise because he is a mere 8 weeks old but Penny and Pearl are 4 and 3 years old and they grunt in a funny fashion if they are pushing on each other or sometimes if they are happy.
Shetlands Are Tougher
Our Babydolls don’t have a fleece that dries out fast like a Shetland, it is a very dense fleece and if they get rained on it stays wet for a long time. They really
This behavior has led us to the determination that we really need a more central and specialized barn structure
Babydolls are also
If we get moderate snow this winter I
Last year even the Shetlands got stuck in a spot when it snowed and Matt had to go dig a path for them.
Shetlands Are Much More Skittish Than Babydolls
Matt and I have raised three generations of Shetland sheep on our farm and even the bottle baby I raised is skittish.
The Horn Factor
Babydolls are hornless so you never have to think about dehorning. That is a very nice feature in a sheep. My husband and I have raised a lot of horned animals and our conclusion is that it is not worth it. For starters,
Only male Shetland sheep have horns but they never stop growing. In the picture above, Truman is only a little over a year old! Their horns grow
Our Shetland ram knocked Matt down and on another occasion charged me and chased me around the house. We had horned cattle, including a bull at one point. We
Another issue with horns is that
You can use
We have butchered a few of the Shetland sheep for our personal meat supply through the year. You only get 30 lbs from a 1-year-old lamb but it is
Since we are just getting started with Babydoll sheep we have
Shetland sheep meat cuts are not as beefy. You can look at a Shetland leg of lamb and a Babydoll leg of lamb and there is a world of difference. Babydolls are
Lamb is expensive at the grocery store and
You can also tan the sheep hides and even make leather if you want to. I expect to get about twice as much meat off of a Babydoll. Here is a link to my article on tanning sheep hides.
I want to tell everyone right away that if they think they will make a decent amount of money off of the fleece and the wool from their
Above is the wool we had spun. The cost to get it washed and spun was $13.75 per skein. Each skein weighs 100 grams or 3.5 oz. I have some extra to sell if anyone is interested. The price is $18.00 plus the actual cost of shipping.
Even at that, we are not making anything on it. This is the reality of the fiber aspect of sheep raising. We have white and black yarn. It is a good weight for hat-making.
Unless you want to spend a lot of time involved with the fiber arts
Shearing takes a lot of work. If you are paying someone else to do
The products produced with the wool sell for a lot of money but as the farmer producing the wool; you don’t even break. A handmade wool blanket may cost $500 but the farmer only received $4-$6 per lb for their wool. That is just the going rate. Private people
I have even had a wool spinner take a few fleeces and never even give me a few skeins of yarn
Perhaps you will have a different experience in your area. If you have a friend or someone that likes to spin and you trust them, you may
Our plan is to sell the fleece for whatever the going rate is because fiber is not our primary concern on the farm. We want sheep for keeping our vineyard, fields, and forests eaten down and to put meat on the table.
Since the Babydolls are so tame, Matt and I talked about how they would probably stand pretty well to
When the time is right, we will try to milk a sheep or two and see how it goes. Both of us eat a lot of
Babydoll and Southdown Sheep: Are they the same?
It can be really confusing when you see Babydoll and Southdown in the name of a sheep because there is a larger breed of sheep called Southdown. Babydolls
When in doubt, ask the seller to clarify if it is not obvious from
In my opinion, Babydolls are better for those that want a calm sheep without horns.
Farming can be a lot of work and trouble. For most people, a calm and docile breed without horns
I have seen a lot of older people successfully have fairly large Babydoll herds that they manage. They are just so darn tame and you can just move them by shaking a feed can.
If you live somewhere that is remote and you have a lot of overgrown fields, then Shetlands are a hardy choice that is more able to defend themselves against predators. They are
The wool you get from Shetlands is much higher in quality than that from Babydolls. The fiber mills test wool based on a micron count and the Shetland always brings a better price.
Shetland Sheep will almost always be easier to find and cost less than Babydoll Sheep so if you just want something to eat things down fast and don’t want to spend a lot, the Shetland may be the most suitable solution.
There are three different Babydoll registries.