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TEC

Soay Sheep

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A group of us are starting a small sheep co-op for sheepdog training. We are considering including Soay ewes in the flock, along with Katahdins and a few heavier sheep. Soay are a small breed of sheep that lamb easily, and do well on sparse vegetation.

 

I saw a comment on one website that they do not flock well, and are difficult to herd. Have you found this to be true? What have you heard about them? Appreciate your advice and suggestions.

 

I am cross-posting this inquiry in the "Training Discussion" group as well. -- Thank you, TEC

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I think the first question I'd have is do people in your area have them? Or, is there a good reason for bringing them in if they don't? For instance, I'd recommend hair sheep to 90% of people around here because they just plain do well in our climate and forage types and there's lots of places to get good stock for not much. Tunis are another breed that does extremely well. But, these might not do so well in other places. Breeds and even lines within the breeds have to be considered in the context of the environments under which they actually thrive (not the song-and-dance you get from the breed web sites).

 

I can tell you about sheep that don't flock well. They can be good if your dog is highly trained and wants a challenge. They will frustrate the heck out of a dog that's used to sheep that stay together. I've got sheep who are very comfortable simply walking away in different directions if the dog isn't simultaneously demonstrating control of the whole flock. It's a different skill than eyeballing the lead and walking away with everyone.

 

I finally wised up and got training sheep for my young dogs (thank you Robin). To get my young dog used to the bad sheep, we mostly either work with multiple dogs, or I make sure I can help Ted keep them together. But this doesn't hasten our "trial" training any, as most of our work is on control, control, control. Eventually he'll be a very good dog, I hope, but if you are in a hurry to train your dogs, you might look to a breed that meets your management requirements and is doesn't come with the warning label. :rolleyes:

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i LOVE LOVE LOVE soays!!!

however, no they dont flock. they can be very aggressive when they have their lambs (though i think that is a good thing). they climb worse than goats, jump like deer. they have no fleece to speak of and their carcasse is tiny so no value commercially.

on the upside, the meat is the best i have ever tasted, they are beautiful, graceful animals, especially if you have cliff faces or rocky out crops on your land. they are easy as pie if nothing goes wrong, but if something does finding and catching the wee buggers is a game and a half! they pop their lambs like peas, and there is nothing cuter than a soay lamb. stock netting wont hold a lamb though, they just walk through it!

they released soays into cheddar gorge to live wild to manage the ancient landscape, an they are a breath taking sight.

my friend had a few running with her shetlands, but most of the time when bringing the flock in, they wouldnt budge so stayed where they were.

one was quite tame though, so it may be possible.....

i think the best reason to have soays is for the love of the breed or ancient land management, and keep just soays so you can appreciate their ethereal beauty.

for sheepdog training, i think it would be easier using cats :rolleyes:

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