The small and very hardy Shetland is the ideal sheep for those thinking of having a smallholding. We have bred Shetlands for several years and in that time have hardly had any problems. They are able to cope with bad wintery weather and we only bring them inside and undercover for lambing. It is far better to keep the ewes inside until the lambs increase in size, otherwise buzzards and foxes tend to take the kitten sized lambs.
The photographs above show just a few of the various aspects of keeping our sheep. We put our Shetland ewes to the tup (ram) traditionally on 5th November. Shetlands are very hardy and mainly stay out in the fields during the winter months. They can generally cope with snow but, if some are in lamb, and depending on the severity of the weather, they have access to a barn. They are brought in about a week before lambing so we can ensure the ewes are getting the correct amount of food. We then keep the ewes and their lambs in for about a week so the lambs can put on some weight so too the ewes. Then its everyone out in the fields.
Come end of May and beginning of June the ewes and any rams will be sheared. Some of the wool is sorted into different colours and then sent off to be made into beautiful knitting wool. Any excess wool goes off to be made into items such as carpets, wall insulation or ecoustic clouds.
Unfortunately, at some stage, sheep have to go off for slaughter. Once slaughtered for meat the skins are removed and salted immediately. They are then taken to the tannery eventually to be made into beautifully soft and much sought after rugs.