About 18 months ago, we made the decision to transition over from raising Romney sheep to raising Gotland sheep. A little over a year ago, our small starter flock of Gotland sheep arrived to our farm. Looking back, it was, and still is, an extremely difficult process, and I am learning the challenges of keeping two breeds of sheep. Selling off our Romney sheep has caused sleepless nights and some heart ache. I became quite attached to some of our Romney sheep and letting them go has not always been easy. Our Romney flock has dwindled down in size, and we currently only have four Romneys. We kept two older ewes, Bonnie and Chloe, who were some of our foundation ewes, and then one each of their offspring.
I am finding that the sheep tend to keep themselves separated, Romneys and Gotlands. It is interesting how they know that they are different- one breed from the other. The Gotland sheep remind me of the angora goats I used to have, inquisitive, curious, personable, and agile. They are actually similar in size to my goats as well, weighing much less than my big Romney ewes. The Romneys are docile and calm, often looking at the antics of the Gotlands with much curiosity.
Many farms keep more than one breed of sheep at the same time, but when those two breeds have differing needs, it can be challenging. I have run into a couple of difficulties in keeping both breeds on our farm. First, the Gotland sheep need more copper than the Romney sheep. Every day, I hand feed the Gotlands minerals with added copper, in order to keep it away from the Romneys. The other factor is that I have two Romney ewes to keep away from the Gotland rams. Romney sheep are not one of the approved foundation breeds for upbreeding Gotland sheep, so much to Evret’s dismay, they are kept away from him. However, despite my efforts, my rams know that there are two unbred ewes on the other side of the fence. This fall, we spent hours fortifying fence lines each night to keep the ram where he belongs.
Seems there is an easy solution, right? I should just get rid of all of my Romney sheep. It would make marketing more simplified, breeding season calmer, and animal care less cumbersome. The other day, I removed the Romney sheep from our farm website, knowing that I will no longer have lambs to sell. I found it tugged on my heart strings a bit to remove all those wonderful photographs of the lambs and ewes. In my head, I keep telling myself that I will try to find homes for them in the early summer. In reality though, it will be a melancholy transition. These two older girls were born on our farm. They have given us many Romney lambs through the years, and I have grown to love them and their amazing, squishy yarn. They seem like family. If I do decide to sell them, it will be only to a very special home where I’ll know they will be doted on as much as they are here.
Do any of you get as attached to your sheep as I have to my Romneys?