Other common names: New Zealand Merino
The Merino is a sheep breed which is renowned for its fine, soft, high quality wool. The Merino is also known for its excellent foraging abilities, which enables it to thrive in extreme climates.
Today the Merino is an important breed in New Zealand. A variety known as the Delaine-Merino Sheep is the most common in North America.
Appearance / health:
Merino Sheep are distinguished by their "wrinky" fleeces. Rams can have large, curled horns, or may be polled (hornless).
hobby farm, fine wool breed, cold climates, beautiful fine wool, great commercial breed
fly strike occurrence
effective lawn maintenance, experienced shearer, curly horns, excellent wool producers
Merino lambs as pets
I got Pinocchio as a lamb from a farmer living nearby after he was abandoned by his mother at birth. As a lamb he was absolutely beautiful and very affectionate, loving to snuggle up to my leg while I fed him from the bottle, and be petted and spoiled for hours. I've had a lot of pets, but I don't think any compare to a lamb!
Soon after we first got him, he started to get quite sad, especially when we weren't around. We figured he must be getting lonely, so went back to the same farmer and got another lamb, Snow White, to be a friend for him. We must have been right, because from then on he was one very happy little lamb! Definitely would not recommend keeping a single lamb as a pet.
We had a kelpie cross dog at the time who hadn't had any pups and was pretty sad about it, and she quickly decided to adopt the lambs as her own. Funnily enough, the lambs loved her, and started to show some doggish traits themselves. They'd try to play fetch, and even played soccer with my brother-in-law one weekend!
Unfortunately, as Pinocchio got older, he started to get very aggressive. He never attacked me, but may or may not have landed my dad in the channel one night. I would definitely consider castrating a Merino ram if you weren't intending on using him to breed.
Snow White (the female) remained a calm and sociable sheep, and when she eventually had a lamb of her own, she was a loving and attentive mother.
Once they were old enough to be weaned and let loose in the paddock with the cows, we found them to be very low maintenance. However, we did have a few issues with foot rot. Obviously as pets, we weren't paying too much attention to productivity, but both sheep gained and maintained weight easily, and grew wool more quickly than we were ready to handle..
From courtneylinuza Oct 25 2015 12:29PM
In South Africa we call a sheep a take away. It is sort of an inside joke. This is because of the fact that they are easily stolen.
A couple of months back we had a Merino Ram. What a sweetheart. He used to walk with the 2 Holstein Friesian bulls we have. One was sick and we eventually had to put him down. This ram always stayed by the sick bull’s side until mating season. As soon as he did his job, he returned to the sick bull’s side. Sadly, the neighbour’s dogs, four smallholdings down from ours, ripped him apart. But the electric fence we installed soon took care of them.
We keep ours close to home. It is good to have a donkey, horse, or ostrich as a companion for your flock. They would deter any predator, human or animal. If you are going big, it is wise to invest in a shepherd and shepherd dog. Merino’s can basically live in any region except deserts.
What to feed the Merino
They need grass and water and dry Lucerne, not wet. They will ruin your grass if they get out of the camp. We also give them grass clippings.
Shearing your Merino
Remember to shear your sheep during the summer months and letting their woolly coat grow during the winter.
Facts about wool
Do not wash the wool. It removes the oil that protects the fibres. These days you get jackets to protect the wool.
Having a ram and ewe to start your flock is a good idea. Always add new stock to improve the quality of your flock. Inbreeding is bad for any breed. When the ewe is close to birthing, rather keep her in a small camp, this way you won’t have to launch a search and rescue mission when she returns without her new born lamb.
Vaccinations, Deworming, and dipping
Making sure your animal is healthy is wise. Prevention is better than cure. Keep a basic medical kit is vital. Animals have always shown major signs of stress when it is too late. Deworming (internal parasites) take place inside and dipping (external parasites) takes place on the inside. Keeping your sheep parasite free will ensure a happy flock.
Uses for the Merino
Merino’s are versatile. You can use the meat and wool. We love meat and this is a good choice as a South African. The meat is tasty and tender.
Start small and go big. Remember that farming small or big is not a hobby, it is a business. So treat it as one. Always do your research before taking on a new venture..
From dekkertjie Oct 1 2015 7:07AM
My Experience with Merino Sheep
These types of sheep are very fashionable, much like the sheep I work with. The sheep has curly horns and is mainly used for show, and wool. The texture of the wool is much like carpet, but because of the animal being raised outdoor the colour of the wool is no longer white but instead creamy brown. I like riding on these sheep from time to time as they can support some weight and they do tend to move around a bit, unfortunately I have still to find a way of directing them.
On several occasions I have been charged at by the sheep and hit right in the nether region. The sheep's height is unfortunately the approximate height of a normal mans nether region. Which means the horns need to be cut off, but this makes the worth of a show sheep decrease. The sheep also requires area to roam and a large food source as they can eat a couple of kilograms of food. This makes it only affordable for people with large areas such as farms.
Like all animals, sheep will also poop. I have the unpleasant job of shovelling the droplet balls and having to use them as low grade fertiliser. The smell of this poop doesn't smell to bad if you have worked with animals before, then this smell should be bearable.
I bought the farms sheep for around $100 but they can range from $50-$200 depending on who and where you buy it. This is only within Australia as I don't know anywhere else.
I personally do not like merino's as I have been hurt too much by them, but if under some circumstances the merino sheep is cut or shortened by a lot then they would be a perfect sheep and I would love to work with them. These wouldn't be suited for pets but more of a farm area as these would not be too safe around children and even teenagers..
From JooJong May 5 2014 2:58AM