Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Take a Coat - Winter's Coming

A sheep coat, that is.  But they aren't for warmth - the sheep have that well in hand - they are for cleanliness of the wool.  Pastures have stopped growing and have been eaten down as short as we can allow - the plants need some reserve to survive the winter and start growing in spring.  Now that we have officially reached hay feeding season and pasturing is over the fleeces need protection from the dreaded VM (vegetable matter) that contaminates fleece and renders it undesireable to hand spinners.

We went through the flock yesterday to weigh and deworm as necessary and put coats on everyone that's not a Cotswold.  With our good hay feeders the Cots seem to be able to shake enough chaff out of their fleeces that the benefit of coating would be minimal compared to the extra effort and risk of felting under the coat.  The sheep coat 'closet' consists of four large Rubbermaid totes holding clean, laundered coats in sizes from little lamb to gigantic ram.  Some have been patched rather a lot.
The coats have a solid panel across the brisket and straps that go around the hind legs.  Slip it over a sheep's head and step their legs through the straps.  Voila - coated sheep.

The Cotswold lambs that were shorn early last month have already grown back a lot of wool and have no need of a coat for cleanliness or warmth.  (We did coat some shorn Cotswold yearlings last spring because they got chilly with NO wool).
Freckles:  "No fair!  Why can't we still run naked too?"
This was likely the last warmish sunny day we'll have for a long time.  The forecast now is for rain, dropping temperatures and then snow..... more snow.....cold.... etc.  The flock (except for breeding groups of course) spent the day eating and wandering from one area's hay feeders to another and just hanging out in the yard enjoying the sun and the view.

Peanut:  "Being outside is OK, but you get more scritches when you're inside."
Smart little sheep.



  1. Such a fashionable group :-)
    Stay warm-it's very cold and snowy here in Colo, and headed your way :-/

  2. Who knew? But this answers my question about a small herd in Lincoln MA who had dirty dirty coats. I guess they're being bred for meat. These look like sacks of flour with tails!!!

  3. My one coatable sheep - Norman - cannot stand them! The other two are Icelandics and will felt at the mere mention of coats.

  4. If I lived closer I would bring Peanut home in my pocket, so cute.

  5. I mean the blanketed ones? Salsa, ashes, Mickey..

    1. They are crossbreds with varying percentages of Rambouillet, Border Leicester, Cotswold, Romney, Corriedale, Finn and some unknown breeds. The sheep we started with many years ago were crossbreds so I can say who is 50% Cotswold or Border Leicester (those were the registered rams I've used) but after the first generation from them the known percentages dwindle. Mostly I describe them as "medium wool with Border Leicester background" or 'a mostly Cotswold longwool'.