We have already talked about what cattle and chickens we want to raise, so now I want to mention the sheep we would like to get. We have decided on raising Merino sheep because they have been regarded has having the finest and softest wool of all sheep and the yarn that is made from their wool is the yarn my wife loves to knit with most. My wife loves to knit so much she has created her own knitting website Purl, Too. She wants to raise sheep so she can spin her own yarn and sell Merinos and their yarn to other small homesteaders and people who want good quality dye free yarns on her website. Check it out.
The Merino are one of the oldest breeds of sheep in the world. Merino sheep originally were developed in Spain, during the Middle Ages, Spain’s wealth was based on the fine wool Merino sheep. They were protected by the Spanish government and it was a capital offense to export a Merino sheep. In 1809, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain opened to the world access to the prized Merino sheep. The Merino wool is of superior quality. It is the most luxurious wool in the world. It is bred predominantly for its wool, and its carcass size is generally smaller than that of sheep bred for meat, which makes them perfect for a small grass based farm. These sheep are noted for their hardiness and are excellent foragers and very adaptable. They have great herding instincts and have been used as parents of several other breeds. Merinos also have a very long productive life, sometimes living for up to 12 years and usually give birth once a year to one or two lambs.
My friend Tom’s brother is starting to raise sheep and are keeping them at Toms place. When I was there in May my friend John and I helped him set up a pen for a Ram he had just bought.
The pen is only a temporary holding pin until he gets his fencing done. I loaned him my tractor so he could finish putting in the rest of his fence.
Tom helps his brother care for and watch over the sheep while his brother is over the road as a truck driver. The breed they raise are Hampshire’s crossed with Suffolk . This breed is a very large sheep that is known for its fine-grained quality meat that grows very fast and are very fertile. Right now all they have are two ewes that have two baby lambs and one ram. He will put the ram with the ewes this August so they hope to have 4 new lambs in January. His plan is to sell show lambs to people who farm and their kids who want raise and to show lambs in FFA and 4H projects. The lambs that are not quiet show lambs will be sold around April for people who want some lamb for Easter.
I have been looking on-line for breeders who we might buy Merino sheep from when we retire and start farming two years from now, but have not had much luck. If anyone knows of any Merino sheep breeders close to Iowa please let us know.