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East Friesian Sheep

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4.8/5

(3 Reviews)


Other common names: Ostfriesisches Milchschaf; Deutsches Friesisches Milchschaf; Friesian Milk Sheep

The basics:
The East Friesian Sheep is a heathland type dairy sheep which originated in the region of East Frisia in northern Germany. Historically the sheep were kept in small numbers by households for household milk.

The East Friesian Sheep is one of the most productive milk producing sheep breeds. The East Friesian produces roughly 300-600 litres of milk, over a 200 to 300 day lactation.

East Friesians are used as either a purebred milking breed or as a crossing breed for other milking sheep. They can raise the average number of lambs born, as well as milk production, when crossed with other milk sheep breeds. They are not a very hardy or adaptable breed, but their cross-breeds can be.

Appearance / health:
East Friesians have pink noses and their head and legs are clear of wool. Their heads are naturally polled, i.e. hornless. They generally have pale hooves. The most distinctive feature of an East Friesian is its tail, which is described as a "rat-tail" because it is thin and free of wool. Elsewhere on their bodies they have white wool which is approximately 35-37 micrometres, with a staple length of 120–160 millimeters and their fleece ranges from 4–5 kg (8.8–11 lb).

One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.

Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.

As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.

Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.

Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.

For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.

Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.

wonderful

milk quality, great temperament, class milk producers, Impressive amounts, milk cheese

challenging

significant investment

interesting

small artisan cheesemaker

Helpful East Friesian Sheep Review

East Friesian Sheep

From MiriamHart Dec 25 2014 2:08AM

4.5/5

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