Know your sheep, know yourself

It’s state and county fair season, a great time to look at what kind of wool sheep are being bred in your area. And if you are like me, you will be doing a lot of day dreaming, and probably more importantly – practicing a lot of self-control so there aren’t a couple of sheep bouncing around in the truck bed as you turn into your driveway.

If there is anything worse than not having sheep, it would be having sheep that you don’t have the means to properly take care of.

…that is my county fair and general animal swap mantra.

Regardless of being able to actually buy any wool sheep at the fair day this year, knowing the marks of a good sheep can help you understand the sheep judging process. It can also, of course, help you build a greater understanding of what you would like for your future flock. Consider it pre-pre-flock building research.

animalscience.ag.utk.edu

animalscience.ag.utk.edu

Wool is naturally one of the key features of a sheep that needs to be considered when building a flock. But between the Shepard knowing what he or she wants in the fiber, heaps of jargon, breed variance and other factors, I will discuss wool in another article.

When looking at sheep at the fair this year, check for:

  • Alertness
  • Clear, clean eyes
  • Clean nose (no runny noses)
  • Clean lines
  • Well-trimmed and uncracked hooves
  • Docked tail
  • Strong looking teeth (the teeth also reveal age)

Each breed has its own specifications and standards, which makes the judging process more involved. Below, is a tweeted picture from the Herdwick Shepherd that outlines the traits that are sought out in herdwick sheep.

 

 

 

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