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Cold Weather Sheep/Goats Expand / Collapse
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Posted 11/12/2009 5:39:00 AM
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What is the best breeds of sheep and goats for cold weather with lots of snow. Will be used for meat (maybe fiber). Low maintenance is also a consideration.
Post #13268
Posted 11/12/2009 2:27:12 PM


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Any of the wooled breeds do well. I have Hampshires and Montadales and they both do well. Last year it hit 45.2 below zero without windchill factored in and reading at F and not C and they did fine. That is the beauty of sheep; cold dry sheep are very happy sheep. Hot sheep, or wet sheep, are very unhappy sheep.

I would stay away from the Katadin Breed of course and Jacob sheep.

I like my Montadale sheep but they are very skittish sheep and it makes management tough sometimes, but they forage on absolutely nothing, gain weight well and lamb like their birth canal is made out of lard...that is the lambs shoot right out due to their chiseled faces. The Hampshires on the other hand come out rather hard with their block shoulders, but those big front shanks add a lot of weight to the meat carcass.

I prefer my montadales over my hampshires but they are hard to get east of the Mississippi so my flock is 80% hampshire! Both are good meat breeds though with decent fleeces!

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Post #13287
Posted 11/12/2009 3:02:56 PM


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I'll put in a plug here for our Shropshires. They are a calm, well flocking nice size meat breed that were very popular up until about WWII. In fact, they were developed and billed as the perfect Farm Flock breed until the 'improved' hampshires and suffolks came along.

They are not quite as big as the Montadales, Hampshires or Suffolks, which is actually good. Those big breeds can be real grain hogs to get them to finish, though it sounds like Drawbar finishes them pretty well on grass. I'd rather put my feed into meat than into building a big skeleton.  Shropshires won't beat a suffolk in a market lamb show class, cause the judges are going for extremes these days - but they make a very nice carcass.

They are not at all skittish. In fact, they can be more physical that the other breeds. Try taking a bucket of grain into a flock of old breeder ewes and they'll have their way with you. This is a good trait when you're trying to move them/manage them. But I know some elderly farmers who don't like having sheep milling around them in the pen so they prefer a more 'standoff-ish' sheep. Sometimes it just comes down to personal preference.

Muddy Run Farm -- clean floors are highly overrated

Post #13290
Posted 11/13/2009 7:30:41 AM
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I think I read an article in Hobby Farms a few years ago that rated whether goats do well in hot vs cold weather but any of the Swiss breeds of goats would do well.  I have togs, saanen and fainters and as long as they can stay dry and out of serious wind, they are fine.  Mary Ann
Post #13324
Posted 11/14/2009 6:23:20 AM


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Not sure if there is a type of meat goat that does better in really cold climates.  My Boers do fine in weather down to single digits(as cold as we get).  I reccomend Boer percentages, not Fullbloods.

I'd say any breed will do fine as long as you give them plenty of bedding, a draft-free shed, and keep hay in front of them at all times.

What part of the country are you speaking of??

Really cold with lots of snow is not hard on healthy goats. 

The weather we have here is actually harder on them.  We get lots of just below freezing weather, lots of moisture, freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, freeze thaw.  Tons of mud and slush with ice storms sprinkled in.

Emily Dixon
Ozark Jewels
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Post #13355
Posted 11/18/2009 5:24:30 PM


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I'm in Saskatchewan and our winters get very cold, down to -40 (F & C are the same at that temp) sometimes for weeks on end and my Boer goats do just fine.  Of course, they need more feed at those temps but as long as they can get out of the wind and snow, they handle it just fine.

Mountainport Farms, home to 50 some odd goats, 4 LGDs, 1 crazy Australian Shepherd, 2 cats, a dozen chickens, a rabbit and a chinchilla -- oh, and two people!
Post #13532
Posted 11/18/2009 5:40:10 PM


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Boers were bred in Africa and naturally do well in hot dry climates without many worms. I know here in mid-MO many of the 4H kids had a lot of problems this year with their boer goats because of the monsoon like rains we had all year.
We are going to try Kiko goats next year because they are supposed to be very hearty and a little quicker grower (if you are looking for meat).

All that being said, we have only raised dairy goats up to this point. So I am only speaking from the experiences of others we know, not my own personal experience.
Ask again in July and I will tell you what we think of the Kiko breed.

--Just the ramblings of a madman...
JasonP
Lazy P Homestead
Wright City, MO

Post #13533
Posted 11/21/2009 8:12:54 PM


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JasonP (11/18/2009)
Boers were bred in Africa and naturally do well in hot dry climates without many worms. I know here in mid-MO many of the 4H kids had a lot of problems this year with their boer goats because of the monsoon like rains we had all year.
We are going to try Kiko goats next year because they are supposed to be very hearty and a little quicker grower (if you are looking for meat).

All that being said, we have only raised dairy goats up to this point. So I am only speaking from the experiences of others we know, not my own personal experience.
Ask again in July and I will tell you what we think of the Kiko breed.

Despite their South African origins, the Boer put on a very thick winter coat.  I've gone out on many a cold winter morning and stuck my hands in their fur just to warm up. :)  In fact, many of Boer have a cashmire undercoat that comes off in thick mats like wool in the spring.  But those heavy coats is a nightmare in wet conditions.  Soggy goats are no happier than soggy sheep, so if wet weather is a concern, be warned.

One thing I noticed very quickly when we moved to Saskatchewan from the much warmer British Columbia was that our dairy goats didn't adapt the way the Boer did.  The Nubians require a lot more care and comfort to do well in the cold we get here, but then, they were bred out in BC.  Bloodlines bred here may be different. 

Mountainport Farms, home to 50 some odd goats, 4 LGDs, 1 crazy Australian Shepherd, 2 cats, a dozen chickens, a rabbit and a chinchilla -- oh, and two people!

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