In May of this year we added sheep to our farm. From the start we knew we wanted a heritage breed sheep and in doing our research narrowed it down to Tunis, Gulf Coast Native and Romeldale. Ultimately we chose the Tunis for its triple purpose qualities–meat, wool and milk. Tunis do well in the heat and humidity of the South and are easy keepers, thriving in a grass-based production system. That’s exactly what we were looking for, breeds that require very little input. Mothers are heavy milkers, making lambs economical to raise. And they are super laid back. Our three girls are not very skittish but rather are quite curious. They find the cats fascinating.
In addition to all that, they have a really interesting history and are one of the oldest breeds of livestock developed in the US. In the 1700s, George Washington was given a breeding pair by the Bey of Tunis as a gift. They were crossed with other sheep and eventually the American Tunis breed was developed. They spread throughout the South and Mid Atlantic and became the primary sheep breed of that area due to their heat tolerance and exceptionally flavored meat. However, during the Civil War they were almost eradicated in the South by troops needing to be fed. A dedicated breeder from South Carolina was able to hide his flock, saving the breed from extinction.
We are starting with three lovely ewe lambs that we will plan to breed in the fall of 2017. Our goal is to raise lamb for local customers, wool for handspinners and breeding stock.