Why did we choose Babydoll sheep
There are 15 main breeds of sheep. All have varying strong suits in different areas such as pets, meat, wool, milking or breeding. Before deciding on a breed, decide which factors are the most important to you. Many breeds are great for multiple purposes and all vary slightly on their main purpose. So why babydoll sheep?
Officially known as Babydoll Southdown sheep, members of this ancient breed are the diminutive version of the Southdown breed of sheep, which originated in the South “Downs” of Sussex County, England. There, they were known for their hardiness, fine fleece, and their tender meat. The breed made its way to the United States around 1803, according to the Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry.
Why we love Babydolls
Baby dolls have a lot of ideal characteristics that are ideal for raising sheep
Here are a some main bullet points, click each one to read more
However, what is most important to you? You’ll want to take a good amount of time to decide what features are most imporatnt to you
Why are babydoll sheep the best breed?
Babydoll sheep are considered small wool sheep that are popular not only as pets but also as livestock to raise for a profit. Miniature livestock can be a great choice for you if you are looking to conserve resources and cause less stress on your land. Babydoll sheep are great small livestock if you’re looking to harvest wool, run a breeding operation, butcher your own meat, or simply have a pet.
Baby doll sheep are very cute with their fluffy faces and permanent smile.
Head: Babydoll sheep have a medium-sized hornless head. The wool around their head is short and varies in color. Depending on the sheep’s body, wool color, from black, dark brown, tan, and cream to white.
Lips: Their lips and nose are dark-colored, except in newborn lambs. Babydoll sheep have a broad muzzle for grazing that appears to be smiling.
Ears: The spacing of ears is with brown or dark fur spots. Eyes should be yellowish-brown in color.
Torso: Shoulders are at level with the back while the neck and ribs are thick and wide. The rump is long and flat, with wide hip bones and muscular thighs.
Hooves: Babydoll hooves are dark-colored, with occasional light-colored strips.
Wool: Babydoll sheep faces should have thin fleece, while the wool on their bodies should be thick, soft, and either whitish or black. White wool is more valuable as it is easy to dye.
On average, babydoll sheep range from 18 – 24 inches (46 – 61 centimeters) in height at their withers and 70 – 120 lbs (32 – 54 kilograms) in weight. They are considerably smaller than other breeds of sheep and demand less land and resources when it comes to caring for them.
Because of their size, Babydoll Sheep do not need tall fencing. They are much more laid-back than goats too and are less interested in escaping. They need good fencing to protect them from predators, but you can save money by having a lower fence.
Due to their size, you can keep around 5 sheep per acre, which is favorable for smaller farms.
Their wool is like cashmere. Their wool runs around 20 microns thick, and is incredibly soft to the touch, especially after washing. It has more barbs per inch than any other wool type, which makes it ideal for combining with other wools to increase their ability to strand. Babydoll sheep are wool sheep, meaning that they grow a soft wool fleece each year that will need to be shorn during the spring. The fleece is exceptionally soft and fine, relating more to cashmere than to normal wool. Fleece can be worn close to the skin without causing irritation as other wool can cause.
Naturally, all babydoll rams are polled, meaning they are born with no horns. This is another reason they make great family pets! Horns can cause a great deal of problems in farm animals but luckily, there won’t be any here!
5. Easy Keepers
For food, they simply need access to grass all the time. Hay in the winter when the grass is dormant. Occasionally, as treats, I will feed them a few handfuls of grains. Many orchards have begun to employ Babydoll sheep because they keep the weeds down and they don’t hurt the fruit, tree trunks, or shrubbery. Wherever you allow them to graze, the sheep will drop their nitrogen-rich pellets and stomp them into the soil. You may not realize it, but their feces will not create ugly brown patches in your grass like a dog would nor do you have to worry about stepping into nasty patties. Their feces rest close to the ground giving it beneficial nutrients and allowing you to not have to watch your step.
They will also need a salt block that contains trace minerals they wouldn’t otherwise get off of hay/grass. However, make sure you are feeding a strictly sheep mineral, that doesn’t contain cooper as it can be detrimental to them.
Fresh water and shelter (more in #5) is the only other real need for Babydolls.
They are winter hardy and require minimal shelter. They need a shelter to get out of the rain. It doesn’t have to be fully enclosed, but a 3 sided pen is the norm. We built these DIY cheap animal shelters and they are perfect. They don’t enjoy being wet and water can become trapped in their wool, next to the skin, and get very hot during the heat of the summer.
They also really enjoy being outside and although they can be kept in a pen their entire lives, it’s not ideal, and not very much fun for anyone
They are very docile, by nature, these lovers-not-fighters are non-aggressive, so they get along well with other docile livestock breeds. According to the Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry, they may have a cool, calming effect on other animals and make great pasture companions.
Sheep are naturally more shy and will take some time to warm up to you and a new environment but if you work with them and earn their trust, they will be great pets
Their meat is very tender and flavorful – it is said to be some of the most tender meat in the world. Although this was one of the main reasons the breed was used for, many American breeders will not sell for the purpose of raising them for meat due to their other quality characteristics
They have a lifespan of 12-16 years, which is longer than other breeds of sheep. They are less prone to common ruminant animal issues. Medical needs are minimal, but you do have to be willing to do a couple of things.
First and foremost, you’ll have to sheer them once a year in the spring, after the dangers of cold has passed and before the heat of summer. You can either hire an experienced sheerer, or you can do it yourself, but know that its going to take some time for each sheep, and it has to be done. You’ll also likely need to trim around their eyes and hindquarters. This prevents “wool blindness” and also keeps them from soiling their wool as they go to the bathroom, which can scald the skin.
Another constant thing you have to take care of is hoof trimming. They grow constantly, like our fingernails, but are much harder because they are made out of the same material composition as horn.
Babydoll Southdowns are an ancient, purebred sheep line, so they aren’t as susceptible to foot rot and intestinal parasites as other, more modern breeds, but you still have to pay attention to these issues.
10. Great Mothers
Babydoll sheep have a great natural mothering instinct and usually lambing goes off without much intervention. The gestation period is 145 days and ewe’s usually have twins, sometime triplets.