Acquiring sheep for a plot

Sheep are ideally suited to being kept on a smallholding. They can use vegetation which is unsuitable for human consumption and many thrive on hardy grasses and shrubs.
Sheep are cheaper to buy and feed than cattle and they have a higher reproduction rate and shorter pregnancy period. This means that animal numbers can be increased more quickly.
Before you decide what breed of sheep you are going to buy, you need to decide why you are keeping them: do you simply want lawnmowers for your fields, do you want meat or do you fancy the idea of breeding pedigreed stock for sale? You also need to consider the amount of space that you have, the climate and the quality of your grazing.
There are about twenty sheep breeds in South Africa. The Dorper, Merino, Ile de France, Suffolk, Mutton Merino, Dohne Merino, Dormer and the Black-headed Persian are all found here, but they are not necessarily ideal for keeping on a Gauteng smallholding.
Go to the Breeders’ societies for information:
Dorper Sheep Breeders Society: http://www.dorpersa.co.za;
Ile de France Sheep Breeders Society: www.iledefrance.co.za;
For more information on SA Mutton Merino go to www.savleismerino.net/English/Index.htm
Suffolk sheep breeders have their own website: www.suffolk.co.za;
It is important that you know what to look for when selecting the ram and ewes.
When selecting a ram, look for faults that may require you to remove the animal from the rest of the flock. Examine every part of the body starting from the head.
For the selection of the ewes, the same norms and standards are applicable. On reproduction, the ewes are culled for a spoiled udder, too small teats and ‘kalbas’ teats.

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