We have been raising sheep in Northeast Wisconsin for over 30 years. Our 80 acre farm is approximately 40 miles west of Green Bay. Much of our gently rolling land is considered highly erodible by USDA. Permanent grass cover on such vulnerable land is the best way to preserve topsoil.
Ewe flock nutrition has a significant annual cycle. Late gestation and lactation demand high quality forage, while non-lactation and early gestation requirements are much lower. Likewise, the annual grass growth cycle in Wisconsin provides abundant high quality grass in spring and early summer, while winter requires hay feeding for livestock. From an economic standpoint it makes sense to align these two cycles. We accomplish that by lambing in early April so peak lactation nutrition needs are supplied by high quality grass and legume pastures in May and June. We rotationally graze our pastures spring through fall. Doing so provides quality forage for a longer time. It also assures longer life and higher yields from our pastures. Excess spring pasture growth is harvested as hay and fed to the ewes in the winter. The majority of our lamb crop is sold as feeder lambs or replacement ewe lambs in late summer as pasture growth slows down. Check out the breeding stock tab in the Store for the availability of replacement ewe lambs.
Pastures are improved with minimal soil disturbance. No-till, frost, and trample seeding have been used over the years for pasture maintenance and improvement. The ewe flock is out-wintered at hay feeding stations where the feeding residue and manure is composted. Lambing barn manure is also composted.The composted manure is then returned to the land where it is most needed.
We utilize crossbreeding to improve the productivity of our flock. In 1988 we introduced the Booroola gene into our flock to increase our lambing percentage. Currently, our crossbreeding scheme includes East Friesian, South African Meat Merino (SAMM) and Dorset for our ewes. These ewes are then crossed with English style Shropshires to produce meaty fast growing market lambs on grass. We recently sold our last Booroola gene carrier sheep. We have been able to achieve our goal of a 200% weaned lamb crop with our non-Booroola carrier ewes.
Bob retired from veterinary practice in 2016. We now have a more flexible schedule.
If you have questions about sheep farming, management intensive grazing or sheep health please feel free to contact us.