What to look for in a Wiltshire.
I sell both Commercial and Stud Sheep. These animals are the result of many years of selective breeding for a number of points. This has been key to the development and success of my stud. We live on a granite hillside on a medium sized property.
My sheep must do well all year around on the conditions present in the paddocks. They are very rarely supplementary fed. This is because Wiltshire Horn Sheep are low maintenance and do not require the 'mothering' that is required for some other breeds. Also we find sheep that do well on poor pastures absolutely thrive when introduced to better pastures.
We have found that sheep which look great and have been brought up on excellent pastures, when moved to poorer pastures, do not do very well at all. All sheep in our stud have been culled heavily over the years for sound mouths. This can be a problem with Wiltshire Horn Sheep. We believe that if a sheep has a poor mouth (i.e. an over or under bite) then it cannot eat properly. Any sheep found with mouth problems are sold directly to the market to be slaughtered. Also all Wiltshire Horn Sheep (whether commercial or stud) should shed their fleece completely at least once a year.
Our Commercial animals are from the same breeding stock as our stud animals but are sold as commercials for any number of reasons. They may be slightly smaller than what we consider a stud quality sheep or they may not thrive as well on our poor pastures. However, commercial sheep are all pure breds and have not been crossed with any other breed. They should also shed completely.
Rams should have horns that are not too tight to the face and are spaced apart about an inch. This will help prevent fly strike and having to remove horns at a later stage. After all, these are supposed to be low maintenance sheep.
One of the only reasons we supplementary feed our animals is to make life easier when we have to 'round them up'. By training them, all we do is get a bucket of oats, call them and they all come running. Even though we only do this occasionally, it still works as the sheep appear to be fairly intelligent.