Pure breed or cross sheep

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Oilystairs
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Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 250929Post Oilystairs »

We are about to acquire some sheep for our own consumption for our small holding in SW france and a question springs to mind.

Many people concentrate on a particular rare breed of sheep (or pig for that matter) and it made me wonder if it is not more sensible to get complete cross breeds? I can understand how nice it must be to have a particular breed to both maintain the numbers of that rare breed and improve the blood lines etc.

But for a general small holder interested in a non specialised animal purely for our own consumption, aren't pure breed sheep like pure breed dogs i.e. prone to various health issues and problems linked to their breed. In the dog world a cross breed will live a longer healthier life with less call outs for the vet?

Thanks

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trinder
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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 250953Post trinder »

sorry Oilystairs I just had to respond to this Myth that cross breeds live longer and are are healthier. It is just not factual. The life expectancy is recorded with a pedigree and with a cross breed it is just a memory (which is often false) as far as health is concerned how can anyone guarantee that they will get the best 50% and discard the undesirable 50%?
In the sheep breeding world I suspect the same principles apply but for different reasons. For example if you live in a particularly difficult area ( say very very wet ) then looking for a breed that is best suited to wet conditions. But that may bring undesirable breed attributes. It may mean that the animal has a particularly long coat and your ground has lots of brambles. (Trying to think of better examples but I hope you get my drift)
Your decisions for choosing a breed should be focussed on living conditions. If your ground is really hilly and rocky then a light weight breed is most appropriate whereas if you have a small neat quality paddock then a big hefty weighty sort would be most cost effective.
On the issue of animals for research "The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but rather, 'Can they suffer?'" Jeremy Bentham

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Odsox
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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 250956Post Odsox »

trinder wrote:sorry Oilystairs I just had to respond to this Myth that cross breeds live longer and are are healthier. It is just not factual. The life expectancy is recorded with a pedigree and with a cross breed it is just a memory (which is often false) as far as health is concerned how can anyone guarantee that they will get the best 50% and discard the undesirable 50%?
I always thought this was the case and so was surprised at your post Trinder. I just Googled it and it seems that quite a lot of people don't hold your view. For instance the Kennel Club researched the Bordeaux dog breed and found it's average life expectancy as a staggering 3 years and 10 months ! I realise this is just one example, but I think that I will stick to my (possibly wrong) opinion that cross breed dogs on average live longer and healthier lives. http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/downloa ... rdeaux.pdf

Getting back on topic regarding sheep, I have never raised sheep, but would have thought that rare breeds and thoroughbreds would be more expensive to buy. I would perhaps look at meat quality versus price and upkeep.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

Oilystairs
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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 250973Post Oilystairs »

Hi, just to put this into context i have quality flat grazing in a river valley but well drained so i agree with Trinders views on choosing animals suited to the terrain. We deliberately don't want a small leggy sheep from a mountainous environment as our land can cope with larger sheep. We are in SW france so low rainfall and best grazing in autumn and spring.

I am fairly set on acquiring a few Berichon du Cher ewe lambs that are crossed with Texels and 3 complete cross breeds including a ram. I just thought it would be interesting to hear peoples views on it.

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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 251050Post Somnophore »

The premise that you suggest is a fallacy of correlation and causation, post hoc ergo propter hoc. You are generalising a condition from dogs, and assume that there is a causal relationship between breed and life expectancy in other species of animal.

Chickens for example there is a reverse correlation, hybrids (cross breeds) live shorter lives albeit generally more egg productive than pure breeds, but pure breed hens can live twice as long as hybrids.

Even in dogs some pure breeds can live a lot longer than some crossbreeds. It's down to characteristics of specific breeds that matters, you can't really generalise.

I know personally rare breed pigs produce far superior quality meat to cross/commercial pig varieties, if for personal consumption I'd be looking for the most suitable heritage breed with the tastiest meat.

oldjerry
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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 251053Post oldjerry »

Though I dont understand any of the first bit,I agree with most of that.From personal experience Xbred dogs tend to live longer,but that's probably because pure bred dogs have been bred for certain physical attribute rather than longevity,Pigs,on the other hand,are crossbred for their commercial viability,inevitably involving farming techniques,some would say at the expense of the quality of the meat,though Many people are unable to distinguish, by taste, meat from a Xbred pig,and that from a rare breed,when each has been farmed extensively,
Another problem with some rare breeds,is there is,by definition,very few bloodlines,so sucessfull herd management can be more difficult when it comes to a breeding programme.However if no-one kept rare breeds,there wouldn't be much to develop new Xbreeds from!

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red
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Re: Pure breed or cross sheep

Post: # 251143Post red »

inbreeding causes problems - and to keep pure breeds, often there is inbreeding, but not necessarily so.

the chicken question is a red herring (sorry to bring fish into this too! :lol: )but hybrids are very much bred, so have their problems, equally there can be problems with traditional breeds of chickens - they have been bred to look right far more than to lay well etc - hence why marans eggs are not (generally) as dark as they used to be etc

re sheep - the only real point in keeping certain breeds is if you want to breed from them yourself - the resulting lambs will be more sellable - or if you want specific wool for spinning etc, or if you believe a certain breed tastes good.

other considerations are practicalities - polled are easier than horned. Larger sheep tend to be more docile but smaller sheep easier to turn
Some breeds of sheep are more hardy than others - i would look around at what is thriving in your area and buy similar or cross breeds of that.
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