The Croft is a simple three sided wood and metal barn built by Detailed Farm Buildings Ltd. (www.detailedbuildings.ca) that measures 100’ X 24’. It consists of nine 10’ X 24’ pens plus an office/feed storage area equipped with two isolation pens. The open side faces south, allowing for excellent warmth during the winter months. The sheep are completely protected from the prevailing west and northern winds. Lexan panels along the north side and in the roof admit light. The Shetlands thrive in this type of shelter and do not require being completely enclosed during the winter. The Croft is situated on the top of a hill allowing for natural drainage. The flooring is simply made of packed gravel. Five foot high sturdy wooden partitions between the pens keep the rams from fighting or seeing each other. There are also some doors between some pens so the sheep can be shifted easily. The Croft easily accomodates 100 breeding sheep while non breeders are kept nearby, guarded by donkeys and electric fencing. Each breeding group is shifted outside regularly so they get extra exercise and are exposed to the elements a bit.
The sheep are put into their breeding groups of one ram to 8 – 12 ewes by mid November so the birthing occurs five months later by mid April when the weather is rainy but not freezing. Ideally ewe lambs of the year, while usually capable of having young, are not set up for breeding until their following year as they mature a great deal during this time and then tend to have healthy, strong offspring. Shetland Sheep by nature tend to be excellent mothers so it is rare to have to hand raise lambs. The rams are also fine to stay with the ewes during the lambing and are often kept with their ewes and lambs. About half of the ewes have twins and the odd triplets are born each year. The male to female ratio in lambs is almost always 50/50.