We added sheep to our farm for two very simple reasons. Fiber and meat. Choosing the right breed, however, was far less simple. We knew we needed our sheep to possess the following traits:
Small, Manageable Size
Strong Foraging Ability
Hornless or Polled
Excellent Fiber Quality
Mild, Delicious Meat
Lovely and Gentle
Delightful to Both the Eye and the Hand
Breed Status: Recovering
Our little herd of four grew to 13 in just two years and we reached the point where we had rams to provide us with meat. We had been told that Shetland meat was rich and sweet - and not at all gamey like other mutton. Honestly, we were skeptical. No more!
Our first rams were butchered in August of 2019 and we were taken back by how delicious they were. We have enjoyed chops, roasted legs of ram, and ground shoulder meat. Every cut has been amazingly delicious.
Each two-year old ram produces around 40 lbs. (+/-) of meat.
The four Shetland lambs (one ram and three ewes) arrived first. They were followed shortly thereafter by the three Miniature Cheviot lambs (one ram and two ewes). Both breeds have their strengths and weaknesses.
It took about a year to decide which breed best suited our personalities, our purposes, our land, and our climate. After much deliberation, the Shetlands prevailed and the Miniature Cheviots were sold to a local farmer.