Holiday Ranch
Breeder of South Poll Grass Cattle

St. Croix sheep have arrived at Holiday Ranch

Early Saturday morning, 3:30 AM, we headed out to the Anderson, South Carolina area to pick up 10 ewes and a ram.  We arrived at the farm of Eddie and Pam Martin, the Ebenezer Farm, and were astonished to see how the area was stricken by drought.  The Martins were feeding their sheep hay, however, the sheep looked good.  We were picking up St. Croix sheep that were descended from a Florida flock so they will probably do great on our ranch.

 St. Croix sheep are called the “easy care sheep”.  Here is what the stcroixsheep.org website has to say:

 St. Croix sheep are an attractive, hardy, medium-sized, polled (hornless), white hair sheep.  Their hair coat is smooth in summer, and thicker with mixed hair and downy undercoat in winter.  They naturally shed their coat, and never require shearing. Mature rams sport a lion-like mane that may fall down to the knees. Mature rams weigh up to 200 lbs, and ewes up to 150 lbs. Birth weights for twins average 7 lbs. St Croix sheep are active and vigorous without any tendency to be wild.  They demonstrate greater resistance to internal parasites than do both wool sheep and most other hair sheep breeds.  The ewes can breed back one month after lambing, and ewes can produce two lamb crops per year.  Ewes usually bear twins, with some singles, frequent triplets, and occasional quadruplets; lambing rates vary from 150-200%.

Carcass composition of St Croix is similar to that of Rambouillet, but the St Croix have a 23% higher carcass yield due to smaller bone and less fat. The meat is tender with a mild flavor. As an unimproved breed, the St Croix has slower growth rates than many meat breeds, which have been selected for rapid growth and large body size. St Croix are an ideal size, however, for many ethnic markets.

Globally, hair sheep comprise approximately ten percent of the sheep population and are located primarily in the tropical regions of Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Interest in hair sheep has risen since the loss of the Federal wool subsidy.  Caribbean hair sheep, such as the St. Croix, are prolific and breed throughout the year and thus are of value to the U.S. sheep industry.  With no shearing costs, strong parasite resistance, no fly strike, high lamb survivability, good mothering instincts and good flocking, the St. Croix Sheep has a lot to offer shepherds in the US. 

Saturday was an extremely hot day in the South.  We were worried how the sheep would tolerate the heat while traveling seven or eight hours in 100 degree weather.  I am happy to report they did just fine with no sign of distress at all.

When we arrived at Holiday Ranch, it was during a thunderstorm but we decided it was in the sheep’s best interest to go ahead and unload them.  We backed our stock trailer into a pasture and opened the doors.  The shy sheep did not want to unload, so we were patient with them and as soon as the first brave soul jumped off the trailer the other ten followed her.

Beulah & St. Croix

Beulah, the guardian, with her St. Croix sheep

We were curious how Beulah, our donkey guardian, would react to the new sheep.  She had been living with our Gulf Coast Native sheep for the past several weeks.  She stayed with her Gulf Coast girls.  When the St. Croix came close to her Gulf Coast Natives, she raised her head and ears, on full alert.  She did go check out the St. Croix ram, smelling him and then returned to her Gulf Coast flock.  We called Beulah to come eat some sweet feed but she would not leave her flock, guarding them against these new sheep in her pasture. 

I am happy to report that Beulah was never aggressive towards the St. Croix and is now happily living with both flocks of sheep.  It is interesting to observe that even though the two flocks are co-mingled, they still somewhat stay with their “own kind”.

St. Croix ram

St. Croix rams have a lion's mane"

We are very hopeful that our 20 sheep will help with weed control on the ranch.  Although we are not “certified organic” we try to treat our land and animals in a fashion described as “beyond organic”.  Poison herbicides, pesticides, and harsh chemical fertilizers kill the soil life we work so hard to build.  Hoeing and pulling weeds on 150+ acres is backbreaking work and we simply cannot keep up with the work.  So we welcome our flocks of Gulf Coast Native sheep and St. Croix sheep to fully partner with our South Poll Grass Cattle to convert sunshine into healthy grass-fed beef and lamb.

Advertisements

No Responses to “St. Croix sheep have arrived at Holiday Ranch”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: