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Old 04-19-2017, 10:30 PM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Default sheep in the orchard

I am moving closer to some big projects that I had nearly a year in planning, stock piled miles of electric fence line, barbed wire, 2000+ insulators, chargers, staples, 400 fence posts, the works.

I am planning to buy 3 or 4 jersey-Holstein cross steers (I can get them from a neighbor for $80 each, weened already). my initial idea was to buy 6, pasture them this year and butcher next fall, but after talking to neighbor with more experience (dairy farmers and a few who raise beef), they told me it would be better to raise them to 30 months (a full year more) because I would get more meat and a better return on my investment. so my new plan is to get 2 that will be butchered in fall 2019 (30 months about), 1 or 2 that will be butchered in fall of 2018 ( a little light but will help with brush control). and get 2 each spring, so that I have 4 over every winter and 6 each summer and be able to butcher 2 every fall (100 lbs of beef is all I can reasonably expect to need in a year, the rest to sell).

I have also been considering mixed species pasture, because I have read that it can help break the life cycle of parasites (host specific types) and will generally help keep animals healthy, plus they eat a variety of different things, so adding another species would help keep brush back. I considered goats but they would almost be guaranteed to strip the bark off all my apple tress and maples (not big enough yet). I am considering adding a couple sheep to share the pasture, maybe 4 or 6 of them. I have a few friends who like lamb but complain that its expensive or impossible to find locally, so I would have ready customers. my concern is that they would strip the bark of the same trees. I have not heard of them being as aggressive at stripping bark as goats are, but then there are very few people keeping sheep n my area, so I can't think of any place else to ask advice.

has anyone kept sheep and what are your thoughts on them in a shared pasture, and will they damage the apple trees or maples? I know the cattle will binge eat the apples, bloat and die, so I plan to use step in electric fence to deter them from the orchard area when apples are dropping, will I have the same problem with sheep, or would the sheep beat the cattle to the apples? I don't want to keep hogs otherwise I would be giving apples to hogs.
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Old 04-24-2017, 01:24 AM
Sugarfoot Sugarfoot is offline
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Default sheep in the orchard

I have raised a lot of sheep and goats. there are some breeds of sheep that complement orchards and some that will destroy them. If you choose the right breed they will make it look like a golf course or old English estate such as the old English babydoll southdown sheep. I raised dorpers because they are raised in south and west Texas a lot for their hardiness much like the long horn cattle. Dorpers are browsers like goats and deer. They eat up as much as they do down. They produce impressive carcass weights also. The carcass of a slaughtered and skinned Dorper looks like a small steer. I loved them for this reason but would not recommend them to anyone that needs them in an orchard. Not sure what your reservation about hogs might be Wilbur is some good eatin' and he loves little apples. I raised some hogs out a few years back on goatmilk, eggs and apples and that was some sweet meat.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:36 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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mostly its the local price of piglets, around here the cheapest i could find was $100 per piglet, and they rarely come up in the livestock auctions. i can get a weaned steer calf for $75. not sure where to get sheep, but i was just considering them as a supliment for weed control. i have no hang up about eating pork, i just don't want to raise them (again, the price), i got lots of bacon and sausages canned up, and open a 1/2 LB can of bacon to fry up with 2 LB of potatos on a cold january morning. I get wholesale prices and order in bulk once a year to can it up, at that price i can buy enough to can for the year for the same price as 1 piglet, just not cost effective for me. i know some people who like lamb but can't find any or its at insane prices, so i figured i could combine some sheep to control weeds, and sell a couple lambs to my friend to supliment winter feed costs.
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Old 04-24-2017, 03:12 PM
doc doc is offline
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A couple points to consider: you're paying a low price for the dairy cow cross-breds, but their body configuration will give you small rib-eyes & steaks. You may be able to live with that, but customers probably will be disappointed.

While your pasture grass is free, it's the expense of hay/feed when you over-winter them that will cut into your profit margin, if you have to buy it. Butchering at 22-24 months may give you a little less meat, but it only involves one winter and may be they way to go.

Most pig breeders don't want to sell only 1 or 2 piglets. They do better by selling the whole litter. Also, after paying for the weanling, feeding it & associated chores, carting it to the processor and paying the processing fee, you don't save all that much over just buying someone else's already processed hog at the butcher's. (Don't forget up-front cost of sturdy housing & fencing to raise your own.)

As far as the sheep or goats go, if you have an already established market, you can just raise what you know you can sell and thus make a profit. Now you just have to decide if the small profit a on few head is worth your time & effort.----It's kinda like the moron who decided to open a hotdog stand and sell them for $0.25 each even tho it was going to cost him $0.30 each to produce them. He figured he'd make up the difference on volume
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:00 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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i got a few other advantages i didn't mention. if you read the article i wrote in the current issue of self reliance (working my way up series), i mentioned i tried buying a lot next door but someone else bought it just before i could raise enough (had a month to wait till fall firewood rush). the person who bought it is experienced in proccessing meat and has all the fancy equipment, part of his plans in relocating his business is to relocate all the butcher equipment and run it next door. when i learned that i figured i could probably just lead the cattle next door and have him do all the skilled work. might be able to trade services on it without cash. i know the dairy breeds won't make much for steak, i kinda expected to have all grass fed ground beef with only a few other cuts. i plan to buy round bales of hay from yet another neighbor 1/2 mile down the road. i own 2 acre hay field and thought about keeping it out of the pasture and scything it for the hay, but probably better to use as part of the pasture then buy the hay. been trying to find another lot closer to use as a hay field (i mentioned one in the cheap land article in the recent BWH issue, 10 acre lot in last falls tax auction, also inquired on a 5 acre lot with a burned trailer 1 mile from me, been looking so i can cut that expense but i am not there yet). don't have cattle yet but stock piling extra filewood to barter or sell in the fall to cover the expense of hay.
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Old 04-26-2017, 10:51 PM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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don't need to wory about natural brush control, just bought a brush hog mower to mount on my tractor, whatever the cows don' eat I can mow over
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