Wethers for pets - is it worth it?

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2 years 9 months ago #555643 by tn71
I realise that, but us parents will also get enjoyment out of them. I know there is exta work involved, but that's not a concern at the moment. These ewes have been mated with a Dorper ram, so hopefully we'll see that come through.
And your opinion on having a wether as a "pet"?

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2 years 9 months ago #555644 by LongRidge
We have 6 hand reared pet wethers. With us two adults they are fine, and usually pet wethers move away from people that they don't know. But they still want to play sheep games, which involves bunting whoever with the head.
Ours are about 100 kg now, so are very difficult for me to turn over to trim feet, and one has close together toes so gets scald badly, which is very painful and they hate you trying to fix it. Fortunately these have been hoof trimmed regularly since lambs so I can do them standing like with a horse.
Getting them shorn is a matter for a professional, and they will need shearing at least once per year. How will you get that done? If they don't get flystrike they can be left for longer but you will pay the shearer twice as much for a too-long fleece.
Your grazing is currently worth about $400 per year, if you own the animals. Without animals it is worth about half, so $200 per year. So 2 weaned lambs is a good and reasonable payment for one year of grazing. Note the "one year". You would be far, far better getting the grazier to run his sheep on your place and get a couple of hoggets each year as payment, for which you should pay the butchery.

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2 years 9 months ago #555645 by tn71
Thanks for the good insight. Do you have ewes to compare against, whether you think weathers are more work than ewes?
I'll get a professional in. At this point I have no interest in doing it myself. Especially for the little amount that it costs.
I've got no interest in meat, so this is more of a symbiotic relationship, where we enjoy having them around, grazing our grass, while we keep them as happy as we can.
I understand what you mean around the financial side of it, however, we're not looking to make any money. Thanks for the breakdown, though. For clarity, where did you get your figures from? Producing 4 lambs a year at $100 each? Versus someone paying us $200 a year for the grazing? Initially I was looking to have someone graze it, but I don't believe there is much interest around here for such a small block. How many ewes do you believe 5000 m2 in Buller could handle? I was thinking 4.

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2 years 9 months ago #555646 by LongRidge
Yes, 4. But the problem is that the grass does not grow evenly all year, and the sheep need an even amount of food and a bit more in winter. So unless you can break feed with electric fencing, your sheep will get way overweight when the grass is growing, and will be starving and escaping when the grass stops growing. With sheep, short grass is hugely more nutritious than long grass.

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2 years 9 months ago #555647 by 16 Paws
While ours are not pets by your definition, ie, they do get eaten, we have always kept a wether as a paddock mate for the ram. Generally it’s been a bottle fed lamb that’s been chosen, and castrated at tailing. The current wether is not at all aggressive, but is significantly bigger than the ewes. That means shearing, foot care etc is slightly more heavy work, but he’s placid so it’s never felt risky. He’s highly motivated by sheep nuts and can be a bit pushy to get to those. As long as the bigger size is not a problem, a pet wether is fine. With enough handling and patience, and nuts, I doubt it would matter if he’s bottle raised or not either. Most of our ewes are not bottle raised, and are just as tame. Sounds to me like you’ve figured out the answers to most issues already, maybe it will just depend on what nature provides!

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2 years 9 months ago #555648 by tn71
I understand the pasture management involved. I'll see how the summer goes, and will look at holding some grass back where required. Thanks for the concern. It's going to be a good learning experience either way.

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2 years 9 months ago #555649 by linrae
U keep going back to having a Wether as pet .
From yr comments yr seem fixated on the.wethet Anything but a RAM will do
Look at all comments most Leaning same way you I think are not accepting they are a b----y pain and dangerous when petted.

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2 years 9 months ago #555650 by tn71
Thanks for your input, it's good to get a relative comparison, it's what I was after. It sounds like for an easier experience, ewes might be easier to have, though it's great to know that it's not much more difficult to have a wether in there too. We'll see what nature does!

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2 years 9 months ago #555651 by linrae
See if they are easier when u out middle wet night trying to lamb one with stuck backwards lamb make sure u have good headlamp

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2 years 9 months ago #555652 by tn71
All I want to know is how a weather compares to a ewe in relation to looking after it. We have a choice of either, or; so I just wanted an option on what people think; I don't really care what we have, though it won't be a ram, as you say.
I'm reading the comments different to you, it seems. To me it sounds like the wethers are fine to deal with, but they do bunt more. As you've mentioned, they're probably not great for the kids, but if we keep the kids away from them, then it might not be an issue. However, ewes are the easier, safer, option.
Thanks

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2 years 9 months ago - 2 years 9 months ago #555654 by Ronney
Ok, here's my take on it. I've been rearing lambs off and on for the better part of 50 years. Without any shadow of a doubt, wethers make the best pets if this is what you're wanting. I have no idea why! I've had some ewe lambs go on to become quiet breeding ewes that will come to their name but not many, whereas just about every wether will come to the call. Right now, I have 3 hand reared wethers, the eldest of which is 10, and all will come to the call. I do NOT feed them nuts or treats as this is a great way to make sure that I'll be knocked to the ground! There is no reason why a wether should bunt at all and be any less safe to have around than a ewe. However, they do know when I'm in the vege garden and will line up at the fence waiting for silver beet :)

Enjoy whichever you go for, they are lots of fun for both child and adult. I think every rural child should rear a lamb, it's a great learning experience for them. Even my Wellington based granddaughter has her own pet lamb which I mostly rear but when she's here for the holidays, it's given over entirely to her.

Cheers,
Ronnie
Last edit: 2 years 9 months ago by Ronney.
The following user(s) said Thank You: VioletFarmer

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2 years 9 months ago #555655 by tn71
Thanks, Ronnie; that's all great to know. For my own clarity, are there any issues running wethers with ewes?

Good to know about the silver beet too. The nuts are something i might need to take into consideration (I'm currently doing it with the ewes).

Cheers
The following user(s) said Thank You: Ronney

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2 years 9 months ago #555656 by tonybaker
I don't think it matters what sex they are as long as they have human contact from the start. It's great the there is some Dorper in them as that should cut down on shearing and also they will eat whatever is available, no need for a compost heap or food scraps. The main thing is not to have too many stock, we are coming into the main growth season and I think in your area grass will not be a problem. You will hear lots of stories on here about the danger of rams/wethers but as long as you act sensibly and make regular contact with them you should be ok. Yesterday my son and I were shredding some macrocarpa branches that had got too close to the power lines and our big Dorper ram was "helping" us! He jumped up onto the trailer and got a face full of chips, he was not too impressed.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)

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2 years 9 months ago #555657 by tn71
Great info. Thannks.
Just wondering about the food scraps, I read things life broccoli, cabbage, and potato shouldn't be given to sheep. Do you seperate these scraps, or do you literally give them everything? (aside from the obvious animal products)

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2 years 9 months ago #555659 by LongRidge
I agree with Ronnie that wethers make better pets than ewes, but they are bigger in size than ewes, so do bruise more when they give a bunt on the back of the leg for a rub/pat/scratch.
Do not give meat of any kind - the bacteria in the rumen are not the kind that digest meat protein. Do not give any part of avocados. The cabbage family make good food but remove some of the iodine. Introduce new foods gradually so that the bugs in the gut can change for these new foods. A sudden change will cause runny poo.
Expect any sheep that has Dorper in it to need foot care. The wool from Dorper crosses is useless for knitting so is not saleable, but they will still need to be shorn.

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