St. Croix Hair
Thinking about raising St. Croix hair sheep? If you're a former "wooly" producer, you might be hesitant about getting back into any kind of sheep. I finally got fed up with the labor-intensiveness of my wool breeds. If it wasn't foot rot, it was prolapse, or sheer stupidity (let's lay under the rain gutter and lamb). The last straw was the increasing unavailability of shearers and then having to practically give away the wool. (You're sitting there nodding in agreement, arent you?)
Having raised them since 1999, here's my honest evaluation of the St. Croix breed - starting with the cons:
- It takes longer to raise a lamb from birth to market weight, even though you get a better meat-to-bone ratio. Some breeders cross with heavier hair sheep breeds to speed this process up, but like my Mother always said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
- They breed like rabbits. Triplets are not unusual, and they can lamb twice a year. If you want lots of sheep in a short period of time and have a lot of ground, swell. I've decided to let them fall in love only once a year.
The pros: (a naturally longer list, and remember, this is from my personal perspective)
- NO SHEARING!!
- No docking, unless you want to do it for looks. They are so much cleaner than woolies. No dealing with dirty tags or wool maggots. No scurs, either.
- I rarely have to play midwife, and those little guys get up and bounce right away.
- Unlike my goats, they don't jump on you, run over you, or jump on cars and over fences. However, they have the same sweet faces and disposition of Saanen goats.
- They seem uncommonly resistant to foot rot, prolapse, and parasites.
- They will eat practically anything. Even though I feed well, they will always clean up what my little princesses (goats) won't touch. They browse as much as graze.
Due to "con" number 2, I usually have ewes and lambs (on the hoof or freezer-ready) available for sale. Aside from the obvious (they taste good), they make wonderful pets, lawn mowers and weed eaters. I have a regular customer who has a fruit orchard in CA. He buys 4-6 weaned wether lambs every spring and butchers them around November. He swears they're the best organic weed eaters he's ever used. If you'd care to discuss this breed and its suitability for you, or if you already have them and just want to exchange thoughts, I'd love to chat.
The sheep and I (Lynne Vanderlinden) live in Cave Junction (extreme SW), Oregon, outside of Grants Pass. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 541-592-3444.