After much thought and research, I've added another sheep breed to the farm, to be used strictly for producing market lamb. The Cluns caught my eye at Jefferson last year, and I started reading up on them. They are not considered an improved breed, and have maintained that primative hardiness, easy keeping, and easy lambing that is a must on my farm. They have wide hips and narrow heads. And they are brown based, not "blackface"!
I think they are very attractive for a meat sheep. The Cluns were also commonly used as a milk sheep in England!
They are only about 6-7 inches taller at the wither than my shetlands, but are long and wide! And foot-stomping sassy. These sheep are no trembling little rabbits, they marched in with confidence and attitude! I love it!
After purchasing a market ewe lamb from Mark Lelli at the Michigan show, I decided to trailer up yesterday. and take him up on the offer of two purebred, registered, and proven Clun ewes.
My reasons are simple. For health reasons, I am taking more and more interest in growing my own food. I already have chickens and eggs, a vegetable garden, and a small fruit orchard.
I'd like some lamb for the freezer, but the Shetlands are a bit small and slow growing to be efficient meat sheep. If I have to pay someone to butcher them, I want to get some bang for my buck. And I didn't get the shetlands for meat, anyways.
I have always abstained from adding local commercial meat sheep because of the risk of disease. Every sale around here is filled with coughing, limping sheep with their eyes crusted shut.
One of the reasons that Shetlands are so healthy and disease free is that most of us only raised shetlands in the past. But that is rapidly changing. I figure if scrapie, hoof rot, etc. starts speading through North American shetlands, it will probably be through commercial meat sheep running side by side with them. While I have absolutey no issue with anyone crossbreeding shetlands, we need to be careful not to introduce meat sheep problems into our primatives.
So I figured the best bet is to buy a rare minor breed, and purchasing them from a DVM would be a wise move. I had a delightful visit yesterday with Brenda of beechtreeblues.com, and Mark's muleflock.com.
Their sheep are just lovely, and I was sorely tempted to bring home a BFL ram to put over these Cluns. The two year old rams were stunning! But.....I'll use Boomerang instead, as I don't think I'll be using him for my purebred shetland flock anymore. I can't justify using inferior polled rams when I've got better ones available to me now, but I just can't bring myself to butcher the gentle old fart.
Can't wait to have my first Clunlands next spring. This should be interesting. And I can't wait to have a freezerful of tasty lamb, and have some left over to share with my family. I know my Mom likes lamb.
I took some photos today of my Shetland rams. Here is Shelteringpines Octavian, hasn't he turned into a handsome, thick boy? And he's only a yearling!
My beautiful Shelteringpines Pompey Magnus. Look at that fleece and fine structure. Again, only a yearling.
One of my new boys, Windswept Killian. We trimmed his scurs after I got home from the Lelli's last night, and will be giving him a few ewes to play with this fall.
Last but not least, UnderTheSon Silvio Dante. This ram will be getting all my spotted ewes this fall, hopefully he will correct the cow hocks and heavy tails I've been struggling with in my spotties.
I'm going to truss up my grapevines today, and start cleaning out the dead stuff in my poor, sorry excuse for a vegetable garden.