Merino Sheep

This is a polled Merino Ram

This is a polled Merino Ram

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.

Merino Ewe and Lamb

Merino Ewe and Lamb

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 Pin we helped set up/

The Pen we helped set up.

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.

My tractor and post hole digger I loaned my friend

My tractor and post hole digger I loaned my friend

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.

My friend Tom and his Sheep.

My friend Tom and his Sheep.

This is a picture of my friends Tom on the left and John on the right.

This is a picture of my friends Tom on the left and John on the right.

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.

About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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26 Responses to Merino Sheep

  1. Langela says:

    Baby lambs are so cute! I’d love to come see your sheep when you finally get down here so I can feel their wool.

  2. That sounds really great! We have two wethers right now that we’re raising for meat, and I must say, as much as I like lamb, as animals I much prefer pigs! I have no idea what quality of wool they have, but our daughter wants it when we shear them. I checked out your wife’s blog and sent the link to my daughter who is a knitter.

    • Hi Susan, glad to hear you checked out my wife’s knitting website and passed it on to your daughter. If she likes to knit she will find some good ideas and patterns there. I am with you on liking pigs better then sheep.

  3. Jewels says:

    Hi Gordon 🙂 Sheep, how fun! That’s so cool that your wife wants to raise them so she can spin her own yarn! My sister talks about wanting to do that too, she has always had a “thing” for sheep and loves to knit. The way you describe them, Merino sheep sound perfect for what your wife wants to raise them for, hope you find a breeder when the time comes. I learned how to knit this past winter and am going over to have a look at your wife’s blog. Two years seems like a long time for you guys to wait for your dream, but it’ll fly by before you know it! Have fun in this planning/dreaming stage, Gordon!

  4. Thanks Jewels for commenting. Once we get started raising Merinos maybe your sister can buy a few from us and she can start to do the same.

  5. purlygirl2 says:

    That baby lamb is too adorable.

  6. I know where there is some good merino sheep

  7. Laura says:

    I just found your site because we, too, are thinking of raising some merino sheep, AND we already live in Iowa! I hope your plans are all falling into place! Did you find any sheep yet?

    • Hi Laura glad you found my site and yes everything is falling into place except the Merino sheep, can’t find any in the state of Iowa or close by. If I do I will let you know and if you find any please let me know.

  8. Sue R. says:

    Check out Ewetopia in Kansas, Genopallette in Missouri for Merinos

  9. Gregory Wheaton says:

    Hi Do you sell the sheep too can call me too at 207 717 6348

  10. Allan Brown says:

    Hello there, not sure if you found any merinos yet, but have you checked out the American Delaine Merino Association website? ( They have a breeder directory that may be of interest to you. My wife and I raise merinos in Ohio. Great breed of sheep. Good luck on your farm.

  11. Cody Chambliss says:

    My name is Cody Chambliss and have a large selection of Delaine merinos. We have roughly 400 merino or merino cross ewes located in. South central South Dakota.

  12. Doug says:

    Have you investigated alpacas? I have been raising them for over 10 years. They are easy to care for, have beautiful fiber, which I am sure you wife has tried, and it can be blended with merino to create your own farm brand yarn. If your not looking for the high-end show animals that most people advertise, you can get a group of fiber boys at a reasonable price. We show, but those that don’t make the top of the class get moved into our fiber herd. So in essence you can get show quality animals for fiber prices from us. The fiber alpacas are not usually on the website, but you can contact me for more info.

  13. Hi, Gordon! I am in south central Iowa and looking for Merino sheep, and having a hard time as well. Did you happen to find any in the state or somewhere close? Thanks for any info!

  14. Joy Steadfast says:

    Just a note – Pen is spelled p – e – n and not p – i – n, which is something you use to pin your shirt shut when the button comes off. Don’t mind me – I’m a spelling nut – the internet bad spelling drives me nuts!!

  15. Randy says:

    Heya, your sheep is really cool. I want to pat it. It’s face is a little bit wrinkly though. I rate it 11/10.

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