An overshot jaw, also called a "monkey mouth" is when the lower jaw is too long. Slight variations in jaw alignment are not a problem or inherited defect. The best way to observe jaw structure is to look at the sheep from the side. Feel the teeth to confirm what you see.
The essentials of good sheep conformation are adequate amounts of muscling through the loin and rump. This area of the carcass yields the highest-priced cuts of lamb. A sheep with good conformation should also have the following: A wider straight top.
The most common clostridial diseases that affect sheep are tetanus, blackleg, malignant oedema (blood poisoning), and pulpy kidney (which affects lambs).
There are two key inspections you should make when buying sheep. Check their feet, and check their eyes. The eyes can be a good indication of how parasite-ridden the sheep are. Sheep are very prone to intestinal parasites, even when raised in the most pristine conditions.
Factors in Selecting a Sheep
Five of the most common factors are soundness, production records, conformation, health, and economic traits. When selecting a sheep, a producer should examine the animal for soundness. A sound animal is free of blem- ishes, has no defects, and has good feet and legs.
For the small farmer, Polypays are an excellent choice of sheep. They can breed year-round, throw two lamb crops per year, their wool is good enough to sell, and yearling ewes are able to breed and successfully produce twins or more. They're easy to obtain, easy to keep healthy, easy to breed, and easy to sell.
Merino. The ancestors of pretty much all fine wool breeds produce the finest and most valuable type of wool. Merino sheep have wool of fineness 17-22 microns.
Dorpers are generally larger and faster growing than Katahdins, so they might be worth a look, particularly for the commercial meat farmer. But they do not have the same robust breeding program for parasite resistance that Katahdins do.
Ideally, sheep selection should be a combination of visual appraisal and evaluation of performance records. You need to be careful when comparing sheep on one farm to sheep on another farm. Good management and nutrition can mask poor or mediocre genetics, while poor management and nutrition can cover up good genetics.
The top three causes of nonpredator death loss in adult sheep were: old age (24.3 percent of losses), unknown nonpredator causes (13.2 percent), and lambing problems (12.1 percent).
Ovine Johnes disease (OJD) is a chronic infection of the bowel that results severe wasting and deaths in sheep.
Ovine chlamydiosis is a bacterial disease acquired from infected sheep or goats. In most humans it leads to a mild flu-like disease, but in pregnant women it can cause a severe life-threatening disease in the mother and lead to stillbirth or miscarriage of the unborn child.
Mostly sheep eat grass, legumes, forbs, and other pasture plants. They especially love forbs. In fact, it is usually their first choice of food in a pasture.
A healthy sheep is one that doesn't have bad breath and doesn't have missing teeth or a lot of bad teeth. Healthy sheep bleat to each other, especially if they lose track of the rest of the herd, have lambs, or lambs have recently been weaned. If your sheep is silent, this can be a sign that they're sick.
Corn, barley, milo, wheat, or a mixture of these are used; 0.5% salt and 0.5% bone meal or equivalent should be added to the grain. Pelleting of rations for finishing lambs is beneficial when low-grade roughages or high-roughage rations are used.
Age Most members select a market lamb at 2 ½ to 3 months of age when the lamb weighs between 40-75 pounds. Look for a lamb that will be between 5-7 months at county fair. Project market weights that reach an end weight of 115-140 pounds are the most desirable in the sheep industry.
You can reasonably expect to keep 6-10 sheep on an acre of grass and as many as 100 sheep on 30 acres of pasture. If you want to keep more than an acre can sustain, you'll have to look into purchasing additional land as you'll likely need to rotate your flock to keep them fed.
Commercial breed tups such as Suffolk or Texel, for example, is where the money lays. If you're lucky, head to auction and watch that bidding price soar. Leicester longwools are bred specifically for their fleece. Selling wool isn't going to make you rich but it's a nice side hustle.
The Valais blacknose are seldom seen outside their native Switzerland, where they are often referred to as the "world's cutest sheep".
Gestation in sheep varies from 142 to 152 days with the average being 147 days. Just like people, individual pregnancies can vary, gestation periods of 138 to 159 days are not unheard of.
The meat of a Dorper is tender and great tasting. These sheep are stout and docile with excellent breeding ability. The maternal instinct of ewes is substantial with excellent milk production that enables them to raise fast-growing healthy lambs. Lambs reach market age by four to five months.
Merino. The Merino sheep is the cream of the crop when it comes to wool production. It is estimated that this fine-wooled breed makes up more than 50 percent of the world's sheep population! The Merino breed originated in Spain during the Middle Ages.