Your Icelandic Sheep: Budgeting and Building a Flock
Frelsi Farm sells sheep to first time flocks in pairs (or more) only. Sheep are flocking animals, and they must have a companion. So for the same reason we don’t sell single rams. There are times when you’ll need to remove your ram from the ewes, and he’ll decline, or become unpleasant, if he doesn’t have someone to buddy up with. If you’d like to invest in a fine ewe, or a proven yearling ram, we have wethers, neutered males, who are healthy, nice animals, with good fleeces…but just didn’t turn out to be the best of the best. They make wonderful companion animals, produce nice fleeces, and are quite affordable. Some of our customers who keep a small “spinning flock” for their own use have exclusively wethers. They’re only interested in the fleeces, don’t want the bother of lambing, aren’t interested in increasing the size of their flock, they like it as it is…and their wethers are friendly and perfect for them.
We sell our sheep from the following categories:
Proven Ewes: Adult ewes who have been in our breeding program and lambed more than once are called “proven ewes.” Their price is based on qualities such as their fleeces, and the merits of the lambs they’ve already produced, and their age. For a new shepherd, there is a lot to be said for buying a proven ewe… at least one of you will have experience with lambs! Proven ewes are sold during the summer and fall after their lambs are weaned, and run between $400 and $1000. We can also hold a proven ewe back and breed her. She is then delivered to your farm in February, and will lamb a couple of months later. You can choose the sire from the rams in our own flock, or a selection of AI studs (assuming you’re enrolled in the VSFCP (see article). Stud and boarding fees are about $250-300 depending on the sire you choose. Come April, you’ll have your proven ewe, and her lamb or lambs… which is a lovely way to begin your experience with Icelandic Sheep.
Yearling Ewes: These are ewes we’ve kept over from the previous year’s crop. A lamb fleece gives you an idea of the adult fleece, but not until the sheep matures will you have a real picture of what the fleece and conformation is proving out to be. Yearling Ewes are our Farm Choice lambs, the basis of our continued breeding program. But the fact is, we often keep more yearlings than we need, simply to see how they turn out so we can adjust our breeding program based on what we’ve learned. Yearling ewes are often very pricey. They’re ready to be bred the year they’re bought, and we kept them because we wanted a lamb from them, and may have bred the as a lamb. So you’ll see them listed with some hefty prices attached and labeled Breeder’s Choice Sheep. If you’re looking for an ewe to improve your flock, or build a great one, A Breeder’s Choice is the sheep to invest in. If you want us to keep her, and breed her to a stud of your choice, we’ll do the same stud and boarding fees of a proven ewe, and she’ll arrive on your farm in February. With Breeder’s Choice animals you know you’re buying the best of our farm for yours.
Ewe Lambs: Ewe lambs come from this year’s flock. In a good breeding program the lambs are always the best animals on the farm, because each generation gets a little bit better than the last. Our Prime AI Ewe Lambs are (by federal law) only available for farms enrolled in the VSFCP (it is free to enroll, and we’ll get you started), and we only sell them as Registered Icelandics. As with all very young stock, you’re buying potential. The Ewes will have known genetics, you’ll be able to determine conformation, but you won’t “know” what their adult fleece will look like, until they’re adults. Ewe lambs range from around $400 to $1000 for a Breeder’s Choice AI Ewe Lamb. You’ll get a lovely lamb fleece from them in the fall, and they can be bred their first year. It is common practice to breed lambs, but we recommend you wait until their second year when they are more mature unless you’re an experienced shepherd.
Yearling Rams: These are proven stud rams or rams we’ve kept back to observe their development. We may ask to keep the ram until December so we can use him to breed some of our ewes before they are sent out to cover yours, and we will adjust the price accordingly. When you buy a yearling ram, just like a yearling or proven ewe, you’re buying a known quality. You’ll know what their personalities are, what the horns look like, and how the fleece has matured. Yearling Rams, like Yearling Ewes are Breeder’s Choice and an effective way to add outstanding qualities to your existing flock, or establish a new one. We guarantee our Yearling Ram’s fertility.
Ram Lambs: Like ewe lambs, with ram lambs you’re buying potential (and a beautiful lamb fleece!). Rams represent the foundation to your flock, and we only sell the best lambs as ram lambs, if a ram doesn’t meet our exacting standards he becomes a wether, a neutered/castrated ram, or companion sheep. A ram lamb will start around $400 and go to $1500 for a Breeder’s Choice Ram Lamb. If you’re interested in a Ram Lamb, you must contact us before October 15th.
Wethers: Neutered (castrated) ram lambs. These are healthy rams with nice fleeces, no defects, but rams that didn’t meet our exacting standards for stud rams. Since shepherds need wethers as companion animals for their breeding rams, and since we do have requests for wethers from farms that are looking only for fleece sheep…or friends…we offer wethers. Wethers start at $250.
All Frelsi Farm’s Icelandic Sheep are registered through the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation), enrolled in VSFCP, certified OPP test negative in 2002, and foot rot free. With your sheep, you’ll also receive support services. If you have never kept livestock or sheep before, the Icelandic Sheep is a fantastic breed because it is so flexible and durable. But you will have questions. And even if you’ve bought a book, and read it, we know there is nothing like being able to call your breeder and say “what is going on here?”
In addition we provide you with a year’s Newsletter Membership to Icelandic Sheep Breeder’s of North America (ISBONA). You’ll also receive a sample of the kelp/mineral supplement we’ve been feeding, a complete record of the vaccinations, lambing records where applicable, ,a packet of useful information, and… our sheep’s milk fudge recipe! The Registration Certificate will arrive in the mail within a month or so from the CLRC. If you’ve decided you’d rather not have your sheep registered, we do a price adjustment for you.
Your Icelandic Sheep are an investment in your farm… and you. They’ll provide you with hours of enjoyment, they’ll clear your hillsides, grow beautiful fleeces, produce healthy bouncy lambs, give your family milk, meat, wool, even lustrous pelts. We’re here to provide you not only with the best Icelandic Sheep possible… but the support you need to turn your dream of having sheep into reality.
How do you build your flock if your farm budget is a little tight? Time, you’ll find, is the friend of a farm on a shoestring. You’d be amazed what a little time can buy you. Let’s take a look at a sample farm that wants Icelandic Sheep, but needs time so they can spread the investment out over a period of time.