And Now a Few Words from Nigel.

Hi! I am Nigel, the Ram lamb. My ancestors are famous rams named “Progressor” and “El Nino.” The humans I live with are crazy. They have 5 coyotes for pets, but they don’t look or act much like coyotes. One is black and white and not much bigger than the rabbits. They are scared of us sheep. So we like to mess with their minds. We are not afraid of them. Bucket Lady is always talking about Thefair. I am not sure what Thefair is, but it means that she walks me around in circles and gives me treats. It also means I have to eat special food and can’t just run wild and eat whatever I want. Worst of all, Bucket Lady shaved my man-bits. So I hate Thefair, whatever it is. Here I am chilling out with my […]

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Sheep Breeding Fun Facts

Breeding season is almost upon us. I have been reading selections from McDonald’s Veterinary Endocrinology to get ready. The ram has pheromones in his wool that stimulate the ewes to ovulate. Oddly enough, presenting ewes with pheromones from the hair of the billy goat will also cause ewes to ovulate. Goats and sheep are thought to have descended from a common ancestor with 60 chromosomes. Goats have 54 while sheep have 60. It is possible for goats and sheep to mate and even fertilize and egg, but the fetus is rarely viable except when produced in a lab. In breeds such as the Southdown, which developed in colder climates, the shorter days of late summer and Fall tell the ewe’s body when it is safe to get pregnant. Ewes will begin to come into season 60-120 days after June 21, […]

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Sheep Behavior Fun Facts

One of my favorite things about sheep is watching them interact with each other and their environment. I also wanted to know more about reducing their stress level, because I believe a happy animal is a healthier animal. So I found a fascinating paper by Warren Gill, Professor, Animal Science department of the University of Tennessee. This paper gave me more insight into their behavior than any of the books I have read. Here are some of the most interesting facts I gleaned from the paper: Sheep and goats were probably the second animal to be domesticated by humans, after the dog. It is estimated that they were domesticated 15,000 years ago. Sheep graze an average of 5-10 hours per day, depending on weather and quality of the forage. The devote more time to eating than to any other behavioral […]

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Southdown Fun Facts

In 1955, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower kept at least one Southdown ewe on his Gettysburg, PA farm. The president of the American Southdown Breeders’ Association bred a ewe for the President “free of charge….hoping of course that you will have some Southdown lambs for the grandchildren.” On June 28, 1811, Sir John Throckmorton won a thousand-guinea bet by sitting down to dine in a damson-colored suit made from Southdown wool which had been shorn at sunrise that very morning. Damson refers to the Damson plum, which was used for dyeing (deep purple-blue-plum color). The two sheep were shorn at 5 AM, and the tailors completed the coat at 6:20 PM. The cloth was described as “a hunting kersey of the admired Wellington color.” Five thousand villagers turned out to see Sir John don the coat! Here is a link […]

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Dream Vacation: Fly to England, look at Southdowns…

I was fortunate enough to find a book on eBay that is out of print called “The Southdown Sheep” by Valerie Porter. It was published in 1991 by the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in the South Downs of England. I e-mailed the bookstore hoping that there might be more copies available; sadly, there are none but the bookstore manager was kind enough to send me photos of the Southdown flock they keep at the museum. The museum is more than a collection of historic buildings, it is what we call in America a “living history museum,” and they have a collection of heritage farm animals. Check out the cool wood fencing they use to keep the sheep in — wish I could have that instead of the ugly metal no-climb fencing! Here are the pictures of the sheep, […]

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