We call it the EZ-Flock, why you ask? Well, that would be a good question…
We, like many others, used to raise Suffolk sheep. After all, conventional wisdom says that if one wants to raise meat sheep, we have to purchase one of the best meat breeds, which Suffolk certainly is. Our problem was that we were not full-time farmers. We have full-time careers that limit how much time we can devote to animal husbandry. We love the idea of raising our own meat but just didn’t want the hassle of shearing, tail docking, worming, assisting during lambing, etc. After one year of bad lambing experiences, we decided that we’d had enough. Soon thereafter, we began introducing Katahdin and St. Croix ewes into our flock. These two breeds are hair sheep breeds and shed their winter wool naturally, so at least they would help solve the shearing problem. However, they were still not “hands off” enough. So we asked ourselves, where can you already find sheep that take care of themselves? Well in the wild of course. Enter the European Mouflon sheep.
The European Mouflon sheep are the smallest, but arguably the most beautiful of the big horn sheep. They are also very lean and taste considerably different than wool sheep. I’ve heard of their taste being compared to that of elk. But Mouflon sheep are not the perfect “homesteader” sheep either. They reproduce very slowly, they are slow to mature, and yes you guessed it, pretty wild. So we started breeding our Katahdin/St. Croix cross ewes to our Mouflon rams. We immediately saw the benefits of this cross. For the last several years we have been choosing the best animals from our flock and have met our goal of having the easiest possible sheep to maintain. We no longer have to shear wool, dock tails, or give medicines of any type. The ewes are also excellent lambers, to the point where twins are never an issue. In the last 5 years, I can only recall one instance where a ewe needed help delivering triplets.
Now that we have sheep that require little to no input to keep, we have focused our breeding program on producing bigger animals, shorter tails, and overall good looks. So if you are interested in raising your own sheep but don’t feel like you have the time or knowledge to raise them, well think again, maybe the Estrada Farms EZ-Flock is the right breed for you!