Miniature Sheep are ruminants and have four-chambered stomachs. They are cud-chewing animals. Male sheep are called rams. Female sheep are called ewes. Miniature Sheep mate from August to December. It takes a female sheep five months to have a baby lamb. Miniature Sheep give birth only one time a year, usually in the spring. They often have twins and occasionally triplets. The baby lambs are usually weaned between eight to twelve weeks old. Here at Tanglewood, because the mama sheep are so tiny, we supplement feeding the lambs with milk bottles along with the babies naturally drinking from their mamas.
Miniature Sheep live 15 to 16 years and make wonderful pets. They are quiet and gentle. They love weeds, honeysuckle and kudzu. Miniature Sheep help farmers clean ground in vineyards, high bush fruit fields, and small orchards. They are small enough not to damage the fruit and do not eat the bark off trees. They keep down weeds, insects, and leave behind all that fertilizer!
Learn About Miniature Shetland Sheep
Shetland Sheep are a British breed brought to the Shetland Islands of Scotland by Vikings over 1500 years ago. They are a primitive breed of sheep, very hardy that could handle harsh weather and scarce resources. Although Shetlands are small and relatively slow growing, they maintain natural hardiness, thriftiness, easy lambing, adaptability and longevity. Shetlands survived for centuries under harsh conditions and on a meager diet, although they do very well under less rigorous conditions. Having retained many of their primitive survival instincts, they are easier to care for than many of today’s commercial breeds. They are a calm, docile and easy-to-manage breed. Most respond well to attention and ours all even wag their tails when petted!
Miniature Shetland Sheep are one of the smallest of the British sheep. Rams usually weigh 75 to 100 pounds and ewes about 40 to 85 pounds. Rams usually have beautiful spiral horns, whereas the ewes are typically polled. They are fine-boned and agile and their naturally short, fluke-shaped tails do not require docking.
Shetland wool is very soft and is produced in a wide range of colors. It is great for making garments to be worn next to your skin, and the color range encourages using creative and exciting knitting patterns. The wool comes in a rainbow of natural colors (there are 11 official colors many with their original Gaelic names). White, musket (light greyish brown), fawn, mioget (light moorit, yellowish-brown), moorit (shades between fawn and dark reddish brown), dark brown, light grey, grey, emsket (dusky bluish grey), sheala (dark steely grey, resembling black frost), and black. If clean, their wool will command a premium price.
A very important characteristic of Shetland Sheep is their beautiful wool, upon which the world-renowned Shetland wool industry was built. It is one of the finest and softest of any UK breed, with an average fiber diameter of 23 microns. Highly variable, the Shetland fiber can range very from an incredibly fine 15 microns fiber found around the neck to a coarser wool as great as 36 microns to make rugged, warm fabrics like woven tweeds.
Records show that even in the early seventeenth century, hand-knitted garments from Shetland were being traded to the Dutch and English. For over a hundred years, the Shetland wool industry maintained a reputation for superior quality wool and lace work. In the 1900’s, lacework was beginning to disappear from the island, but the Fair Isle sweaters, hats, and mittens with their rich patterns were gaining popularity.
In North America, the Shetland breed has been documented as far back a the 1800’s when it Shetlands were grazing on the lawns of the White House under Thomas Jefferson’s term as president. Most Shetland sheep in North Aerica trace their ancestry to an importation of 32 sheep by G.D. Dailley of Ontario, Canada in 1980. The North American Shetland Sheep Registry was established in 1991 and the breed slowly spread throughout the US. Despite the notoriety of the Fair Isle wool, the Shetland breed fell out of favor in place of the more “improved” breeds like Merino or Romney. In recent years, the breed has seen a return to popularity due to the increased interest by hand spinners. Still, the breed is at risk and listed under conservation status with the Livestock Conservancy. There are concerns about loss of genetic diversity within the breed. White sheep now predominate on the British mainland and several of the color varieties have now become rare. We still need to protect the genetic diversity and conservation of its entire range of colors, markings, fleece types and other characteristics.
We are very proud of the daily handling and care given to our miniatures here at Tanglewood Farm. We provide proper nutrition and quality veterinary care to all of our animals. Our livestock is current on vaccinations, dental checkups, hoof care, and worming. The health of our animals is very important to us, and we follow rather strict practices. We maintain a closed herd, which means we do not bring in any new animals, embryos or semen. Once an animal is sold, it may not be returned. So that we do not unintentionally introduce disease into our herds, we do not bring our animals to shows, and we do not borrow or lend animals for breeding. We prefer weanlings do not leave Tanglewood Farm before they are 2 months of age. They need time to grow and play with other weanlings, receive discipline from their mothers, and time to change their diet gradually to eliminate the desire for mother’s milk. This also enables Tanglewood Farm time to deworm the weanlings and give them their first vaccinations. All miniatures come with Tanglewood Farm health papers showing up to date vaccinations, deworming schedule, and hoof trimming schedule. If you need transportation, we can arrange ground transport within the US and Canada. To other countries, we can arrange air transportation on major airlines.