Tilhana comments on my visit to a farm with predator-resistant chickens:
This also reminds me of Greg Judy’s approach to raising sheep. In this case, he’s been breeding them for resistance to worms. For some reason, domesticated sheep, as you may have realized, seem to be incredibly sensitive to the worms that live in the soil and crawl up the grass in the morning – something about the morning dew that draws them up. From what I’ve heard, most people who raise sheep have to deworm them regularly for their entire lives (like once a week, maybe even daily, depending on whether you use the harsh chemical dewormer or the organic herbal one).
That is insane! How did we get to the point where we’ve bred an animal that lives entirely on grass but can’t survive endemic parasites that live on grass without being continuously treated with chemicals?
Well apparently Greg Judy had the same thought, and he’s been raising hardier sheep for years by point blank refusing to deworm them at all. I don’t know if he had to taper off to get to that point, but he may have the only flock in America that can live on grass without ever needing deworming treatments. Well, him and all the people who have bought sheep from him, which must be a lot because last I heard his waiting list was about a year long.
Yet another instance of the principle: if your animals are dying, you’re raising defective animals.
We had a pair of sheep for about a month. The female died on us, after getting pneumonia and being treated twice for worms. We were told that there was no way to raise sheep here without worming them. We also visited a local hair sheep farmer and she told us she had to worm all the time and almost all of her lambs died from parasite issues that spring despite her care. When I asked her husband if their hair sheep operation was economically viable, he told me “absolutely not.”
There’s definitely something wrong with this picture. It reminds me of the issues we had with vine borers on pumpkins. Some pumpkins are really susceptible yet Seminole pumpkins shrug off the damage. So now we grow Seminoles as our main pumpkin.
I looked up Greg Judy and found his farm sheep listing.
The website notes:
Green Pastures Farm St. Croix-sired ewe lambs are raised solely on forage. There is no hoof trimming, no grain, no weaning, no shots or worming and minimal hay. These sheep are broke to hot wire and being moved every 2 days. They are extremely aggressive foragers towards brush, weeds and anything with a thorn on it. They are our primary tool for controlling woody sprouts in the numerous new silvopasture areas that we are developing across the farms. Our sheep even prefer to forage for their food through heavy snow.
I went to his site and bought two of his books – thank you, Tilhana. I am particularly interested in Comeback Farms, as we have terrible soil here and would like to build it.
We currently have two goats but I would love to add a cow as well. Which reminds me, I need to get the goats bred so they actually start making milk.
One piece at a time.
I think we sometimes let our fear of failure or our laziness keep us from success. Fear and laziness go together well.
As the proverb notes:
“The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!”
Actively testing and trying and building is the way to go. This year we’re working on breeding better pumpkins, better watermelons, and better corn.
Today we are also getting all the beds weeded and the paths raked so we can seriously start our spring gardening. It’s good to have lots of help. So far, none of the kids have gotten worms and died, so I think our child landrace is developing well.