We are a small scale sheep producer, raising purebred production Dorsets. We have two lambing groups, one in April and the other in October. We are working on developing our maternal, a-seasonal characteristics with a goal of easy care 210% lambing proficiency. Only fall lambs from multiples are used as replacement ewes.
Our flock is grass fed, managed by intensive grazing with high tensile woven wire serving as perimeter and solar powered electric fencing to subdivide for rotation. The pasture is being improved by lime and manure application and frost seeding. Careful soil testing avoids any over application of nitrogen, protecting water quality. For parasite management, the flock is rotated every two to three days. We purchase hay for winter forage which is funded through our agtourism events. A portable 500 gallon water tank on a wagon is the system used for watering.
Ewes are maintained 2.5-3 lbs of good hay per day when not on pasture. Ewes receive a supplementary grain mix during the last months of pregnancy, throughout lactation, and during flushing (pre-breeding) as needed. The amount of grain mix fed depends on forage quality, ewe condition, and number of lambs that are being raised. Ewes are scanned to determine the number of lambs. Lambs, at two weeks, have access to supplemental grain mixture in a creep feeding area. Claiming pens (lambing jugs) in our barn are used for a few days after birth to insure sufficient bonding before using grouping pens. Due to our coyote and black vulture problems in the CVNP, we do not practice pasture lambing.
The flock is consistent in heavy muscling, early maturity, easy keeping, low maintenance, feed efficient, and natural out of season lambing. National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) genetic and performance tracking is one of tools we use for reliable genetic evaluation to lift our productivity.