About our sheep ...

About our sheep ...

We are raising a small herd of Gulf Coast Sheep. They descent from the Spanish flocks brought to the New World by explorers and settlers beginning in the 1500s. The genetic origins of the Gulf Coast breed are not know, since a wide variety of types and breeds of sheep existed in Spain at that time.

Our sheep are raised on organic pasture ...

food time ...

They are considered one of the oldest breeds of sheep in North America. Little is known about the breed before the nineteenth century though they are known to have existed for centuries. Prior to WW II hundreds of thousands were allowed to free range in unimproved pastures, pinewoods and sugar cane fields. Twice a year they were rounded up for shearing and to mark lambs.

Chene, one of our ram, here at 3 months old

Chene

After WW II, the emphasis on high input agriculture caused the sheep industry to turn to breeds of sheep which were larger in size and produced more wool and meat. This cause the numbers of Gulf Coast sheep to decline dramatically endangering its very existence. Now with renewed interest in low-input sustainable agriculture interest in the Gulf Coast sheep is reviving.

Gulf Coast ewes are known to be good mothers ...

Moms and kids

Studies at the University of Florida and Louisiana State University found the presence of factors in Gulf Coast sheep that prevent infestation of some gut parasites, in particular Haemonchus contortus. Trials conducted at Alabama A&M University in 1997 came to similar conclusions. In this study Gulf Coast Sheep had one eighth of the fecal parasite egg count (Haemonchus contortus, Ostertagia circumcincta and Trichostrongylus spp.) than Suffolk sheep under similar conditions.

One of the first lamb to be born here at the farm in January 2013

young lamb

Some flocks have been maintained for many years without the use of dewormers. The University of Florida flock was maintained this way for more than thirty years.

Gulf Coast Sheep have a well-documented resistance to foot rot, based on the experiences of many breeders including those at research universities.

Ortie, posing for the camera ...

Ortie

Gulf Coast Sheep have become so adapted to the high heat and humidity that temperatures of more than 100 degrees will not interfere with breeding. Some of these sheep have also become acclimatized to temperatures as low as 60 degrees below zero.

Gentiane, born on January 1st, 2013 ...

Gentiane

Grease fleece weights range from 4-6 pounds per ewe.  Average fiber diameter is 26-32 microns. Spinning count is 48-58.   Gulf Coast fleeces are usually soft, open, low grease, wavy to crimpy and 2.5 to 4.0 inches staple length.  This makes them suitable for many uses.  Hand spinners say it is a delight to select fleeces for projects they have planned.  It makes great fabric, blankets or knitted projects (sweaters, ect.) since it is not harsh to the skin.  It also felts really well for making hats or felt pieces for sewing.

Bourrache ...

Bourrache

Milk has twice the solids than either cow or goat milk therefore will produce more butter and cheese per gallon of milk. Butterfat content is in the 8% range. Milk also has a higher lactose content causing the milk and the butter to have a sweeter taste.

In the winter we supplement with some organic alfalfa pellets ... 

Snack time ...

Gulf Coast ewes are able to produce three lamb crops in two years and will average 150% lamb crop per year. Lambing rates are similar to that of other breeds (70% single, 30% twins and occasionally triplets). They produce a high percentage of live lambs and a high ratio of finished lambs per ewe mated.

The first twin born at the farm from our ewe Capucine ...

First twin

Desirable qualities such as parasite and foot rot resistance, heat and humidity tolerance, year round breeding, easy lambing, early maturity and good mothering ability, among other traits, make Gulf Coast Sheep an excellent choice for low input, sustainable grass-based agriculture .Grazing ...