Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Sheep!

Over the holidays I made a trip down to Lethbridge Alberta to pick up our newly purchased flock of Clun Forest Sheep. I bought three ewes and a ram. This picture shows the group of young rams that I had to choose from. We have been researching sheep for several months now and have been thinking about them for the farm for a lot longer than that. For several reasons we decided to track down and purchase the Clun Forest breed of sheep over all the others. We have talked to many people, read many books and publications and made a list of the priorities that we had, or the goals for our flock. Since we are a diversified farm and we have little experience with sheep, we wanted a breed that had tremendous mothering instincts and the ability to lamb without assistance. Nothing would turn us off of sheep quicker than spending the spring pulling lambs and dealing with orphans and dead lambs and ewes. I cannot overemphasize that different breeds have different characteristics. We want sheep that do well on a grass-based diet...not grain. We want sheep that are hardy and resistant to disease and parasites and most importantly, we want sheep that can produce a good crop of lambs with little help from the shepherd. Clun Forest fit the bill in all these categories and we are excited for the future of our herd. They are a multi-purpose breed that make good gains on pasture for the meat market and also produce a fine wool that is in demand by spinners. We plan to direct-market our meat products in the same way that we sell our pork. The lambs will be processed by a licenced facility and the wrapped & frozen meat will then be delivered directly to the customer. There appears to be a good demand for farm fresh lamb and of course, our lamb will be produced organically with a grass based diet to make it even more desirable by customers.

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