Our flock of production Dorset sheep is the most important part of our farm. We have approximately 300 ewes. They are mostly grass fed and we choose to raise them in the most natural way possible. The sheep are given as much pasture time as the seasons allow us. Also, we do not use medication except when absolutely necessary to keep the flock healthy, and we never use growth hormones, steroids, or other likewise unnatural products on our sheep.
We strive to produce sheep that maintain the breed character and mothering ability for which Dorsets are known, creating the best stock for the commercial and purebred breeder.
Our emphasis for over 25 years has been on what we call ‘true’ or ‘Production Dorsets’: prolific animals with excellent maternal instincts whose offspring wean at a profitable weight when raised on as much forage as our Ohio seasons allow.
What is a “Production Dorset?”
Years ago animals were valued for their ability to survive and produce. This philosophy has fallen by the wayside lately, as many owners value their animals for their ability to win blue ribbons, rather than their ability to thrive with little care or produce a healthy lamb crop. In a show ring, the trend is to award the biggest, tallest animal with first place. However, this system is highly impractical and generally unproductive and therefore unprofitable. There is a great divide between show animals and production animals.
Dorsets, known for their mothering ability, milk production, and ability to lamb out of season, are production animals. A true Dorset thrives on grass, and is profitable when grazing in the pasture on the home farm. As the show-ring trend escalated, some breeders crossed their Dorsets with other breeds to compete for those blue ribbons, and in turn lost the traits that Dorsets were known for. They called their sheep ‘Dorsets’ even though they lacked the traits that set Dorsets apart. This is why we call our animals ‘true’ or ‘Production Dorsets’, because they still do what Dorsets were first bred to do: produce.
Lambing can take place practically any time of the year, and we lamb three times every two years. We handle each new lamb, ear-tagging and banding each of them, and recording their birth dates and types and the mothers’ numbers. We ‘brand’ each lamb with its mother’s number using spray-paint.
Our lambing operation differs based on the time of year. From March to October we typically lamb outside, but November to January will find us in the barn. As part of our breeding program, we take notes on how each ewe fares as a mother. Careful attention is given to how protective and nurturing each ewe is with her lambs.
We intervene as little as possible because our sheep have been bred to handle all the work of caring for their lambs. We still check the pasture/barn often to handle any significant problems and, in the case of barn lambing, to assure the welfare of the animals while they cannot graze for themselves.
We have been hoof-rot free for over 24 years and are part of the Scrapie eradication program.
Guard Animals and Predator Control
When our sheep are out grazing, they are vulnerable to predators such as coyotes. That’s why we’ve utilized llamas and great pyranese dogs as guard animals for our flock. We typically maintain a single guard animal in each pasture that contains sheep. So far we have had great success with this method of predator control.
Another strategy we’ve used for predator control is to attach bells to several animals in the flock. The additional noise purportedly frightens away wild animals that would otherwise pose a threat to the sheep.
Our Breeding Stock
We will update this page as time allows, and eventually you may be able to preview each of our rams here and get an idea of what our ewes are like. For now, if you have any questions please contact us.