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Advice from Smallholder about Goats / Sheep / Donkey's

Posted by ScarboroughWhites-442058 - Created: 3 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by Spotty pigs-428933 - 3 years ago

A consideraion is how much land  do you have available and what are you looking for the animals to do? Are they for eating or pets?

Donkeys need company and the best company for them is another donkey I have seen them kept with many different companions but they interact best with their own kind.

Goats jump, mine can clear a 5 bar gate normally when she knows you have gone out so then she can wreck the garden!

Are you looking to breed the goats and sheep? are you looking to milk the goats once you have decided that then you can look for the breeds that would be more suitable to your requirements.

Electric fences work as long as they are correctly installed but you will always get the ones that dont respect it and once that happens you have a bigger problem, they need to be electric fence trained so that they know what it is.



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Posted by salsachica - 3 years ago

Just to add that some vets have facilities for farm animals (ours does) and this saves a fair bit of money as no call out fee. Ours Also has 2 dedicated vets that deal with all the farms and both are very knowledegable and helpful. We have even seen horses arriving in horse boxes. So worth looking around to find one like that as otherwise you have to add call out charges to your costs/estimates when planning.  

We've got the smaller breed of sheep - Ouessant and Ouessant cross which are also affectionately known as "handbag sheep" as they are easier to handle. They can still kick when they want to though! Good for a novice small holder. They are very friendly and inquisitive! Depends if you want them just as grazers/pets really though as obviously larger breeds will be more cost effective for meat if that is what you plan to do.

We got an awful lot of advice and support from the farm where we bought ours from and I will be more than happy to give their details as they are down your way. Good healthy stock. They also breed goats. Just drop me a line if you want their details. They will deliver (charge for this service) if you haven't got suitable transport. 

Another cost would be suitable shelter from all the elements not just the winter months. Ours hate the wind and rain so put themselves to bed and also they like to take shade there. Oh and they also like to just relax and ruminate. So this is an added cost for straw or shavings and time consideration as they will need to be mucked out come rain or shine. More so when its wet and cold as they spend more time in there. 

If you're on facebook I would recommend joining some smallholder's groups. 

Oh and they'll eat everything else that you don't want them to like rose bushes and leave behind a lot of the weeds! That said, they do like brambles and blackberries! The bark of trees has a high sugar content and therefore higher in calories so is a much sought after food by sheep and goats! particularly in the winter. So add that to the cost of fencing - wire fencing for all the trees that you don't want damaged! 

You're more than welcome to come and get up close and personal with our little tame flock of 3! Might be a bit too far though as we are 50 mins away. 

Whatever you decide just remember 1 is a lonely number and goats and sheep are herd animals so need company in order to be happy and healthy as do donkeys. 

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Posted by pigandus - 3 years ago

Try www.pigsinfrance

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Posted by troy Mc Lure - 3 years ago

My goats are fine with the electric fence! With my billy goats i made sure they had the highest (but safest) possible charge through the fence. It only took a couple of hits before they got the message, now most of the pen is just ordinary string, but don't tell them that!!


But yes to be sure put in a fixed wire fence first, then a line or 2 of electric fence on the inside, just to stop them putting their horns through the wire fence and pulling it down!!

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Posted by shepherdscrook - 3 years ago

If your post is not toungue in cheek enthusiasm then think again if you are serious.

Why should anyone take responsibilty for animals that others have purchased/been given then think it is a mistake - 'no bother someone will give them a home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it is irresponsible to say what you have said - everyone should have a long hard think about what they are doing when taking on any animals be it sheep, goats etc. they are not a coat that you can just discard because you do not like it or a machine you can turn on and off but living animals that do not deserve to be shoved from pillar to post 'just because someone may have made a mistake in taking them on  in the first place. That person should have done their homework and research in to the animal they are taking on before comtemplating taking it  or them on.

Not all vets are big animal vets and not all vets are willing to do all the work for you - and do not forget that for all the work the vet does you will be paying for it when maybe you could have done it yourself. 

My shearer worms my sheep too BUT they need worming more than once a year and if on the same land constantly or very frequently then they will need worming 3 to 4 times a year.If you intend to breed the lambs will need worming when they are 1 month old and every month till they are 6 months old and then 3 or 4 times a year. Tags will be needed for lambs which can be ordered on line once you have an account with the EDE - your cheptel number. You may need replacement tags if a sheep loses one or are not tagged with an electronic tag and you must learn to do this yourself - the Vet will charge you a call out fee plus for his time. if you are rich enough then OK go ahead and leave your vet to do every thing. I would be rather hands on with my sheep personally.

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Posted by enthuisiasm - 3 years ago

all registration, injections, general care for our sheep was done for us by our fantastic vet, based in Merdrignac. All vetenary practices throughout France are incredibly supportive. So no fears for people who go down the learning stages of animal husbandery. Life is a learning curve, even if you have certain animals and think "Oh gosh, we made a mistake" there are thousands out there willing to adopt, swap rehome!!!!!

Ask the vet and their assistances for help, ask Angloinfo readers for help. 

So go for it. Freedom, land, comfy creatures. great company. 


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Posted by shepherdscrook - 3 years ago

No-one has stated what needs to be done - regulation wise.

When you buy your sheep make sure they are tagged - ( 2) compulsory with one electronic tag and from a brucelosis free flock.

Then you must register with the EDE to get a cheptel number and have your sheep every 3 years brucelosis tested.

The advice is to worm sheep more than once a year - preferably autumn and Spring and make sure the wormer covers all problems including liver fluke.

It is NOT TRUE  that a lamb has to be registered over the age of 6 months old - a lamb should be tagged within a week of it's birth  however there is some leniency and lambs can be tagged upto 4 months old- though no official will tell you this. However no lamb can leave your property without being tagged.

You must also keep your own records of when you got your sheep, where from , when lambed etc and you MUST have a movement order given to you by the seller and send your copy to the EDE within 7 days.if you give or sell a sheep/lamb you must also provide a movement order.

The old DDSV can do a control any time they like so records must be upto date.

If you do not get a cheptel number and you are controlled then there is a hefty fine.

good luck - if you want a standard sized sheep then Suffolk and their crosses are great for meat as are Charolais and Rouge de l'Ouest. Not texels as they are huge sheep and very heavy. If you want a smaller sheep then Lande de Bretagne are great and easy to keep plus are rustic so can live and lamb outside. Roussilons are also a good sheep to have.

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Posted by lqe29a - 3 years ago

I inherited 2 sheep when I purchased my property, they are no trouble, they are in a half acre fenced paddock, keep all the grass down.  A local man (English) shears them once a year and cuts their nails and de worms them, I supplement their food with sheep pellets, no trouble at all.


Phil near Josselin

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Posted by michelle565 - 3 years ago

I would say that goats are the hardest to keep of them all, simply from a fencing point of view, we tried firstly with an electric fence with not much luck.  In the end we put up a post and rail fence, making sure that goats could not fit through the rails.

Not only will the goats eat leafs from your trees but also the bark, and all your nice garden plants should they escape from the paddock.

We have four goats and love them to bits, the have cleared lots of our land of brambles, you can tether the goats  so they can clear different areas, if that's what you want to use them for.

Enjoy your animals, which ever you choose to have, they will bring you hours of fun and amusement. 

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Posted by Beowulf-441049 - 3 years ago

you can use electric fencing for sheep. I have 23 Jacobs and keep them in the field all year using 4 strands of electric fencing. The bottom two strands are steel wire , and electrified .. the two top strands are the white tape type electric fence , which is not electrified.

If you want to go for stock fencing try vital concept france.. and the post will be wood , sweet chestnut or acacia.

best of luck you will enjoy having animals around the place