Lewis White Dorpers: News & Notes
We wrapped up the 2012 year with the arrival of generous amounts of rain and then snow. Our moisture for the 2012 water season amounted to only 6 inches and we were on the edge of a second year of drought. Our normal yearly average is only 12 inches but we are over 10 inches now so it looks like water will be adequate this year and we’re thankful for that. We wish the same for fellow sheepmen across the country.
We’d also like to thank all our buyers over the past year, especially our repeat buyers. It’s been a busy year attending three sales, preparing sale sheep for export, ultrasound scanning for Lambplan records, selling sheep off the ranch and meeting with old and new friends at sales, meetings and conventions.
We did two A.I. breeding sessions last fall. The first A.I. lambs will be born the second week of February. We’re excited about the arrival of these lambs as they will include new bloodlines from Nonning and Etiwanda White Dorper Studs in Australia. With these new genetics we’re continuing to put emphasis on shedding coats and sound feet and legs.The second group of A.I. lambs is due March 20th. Most ewes in this later group are ewe lambs or young ewes that lambed last spring as yearlings. Four different A.I. sires were used including IdaVale 05-2086, sire of our top selling Sedalia ram. We will post lamb pictures as soon as available.
Our natural service lambing will start April 1st and finish up by the end of May. These include single sire groups by mature rams and three separate groups of young ewes bred to our top three 2012 ram lambs. Commercial purebred ewes will lamb last and are mated to some of our top indexing rams from previous years.
2013 General Ranch News
In other ranch news we’ve started two projects that we’re evaluating for future use.
Our first project is building of a small flock of Romanov/W. Dorper cross ewes. We were intrigued by the results of the USMARC research and since we have similar weather conditions and a large number of W. Dorper ewes we wanted to see how this cross would fit into our commercial operation. We’re utilizing LambPlan and carcass scan data to choose W. Dorpers and F1 rams to build a good base.
We’re in the second year of this project and have moved beyond the purebred Romanovs to F1s. We’ve bred a group of WD commercial ewe lambs to our two best F1 ram lambs to produce ¾ WD, ¼ Romanov lambs. Also F1 ewe lambs have been mated to one of our top ranking W. Dorper rams. Our goal for the ¾ W. Dorper, ¼ Romanov, cross is low input pasture lambing, no docking and moving to ethnic markets early. Some questions we hope to answer are: Will their increased lambing rate be supported in our environment? How will their rate of gain and carcass quality compare? Will there be a demand for the ewe lambs? We are beginning to get answers to some questions already and will continue to evaluate as we go along.
Our next goal is to improve the dryland areas of the ranch by snow seeding Immigrant Forage Kochia. This is a desert shrub that thrives in a variety of soils, requires between 5 and 15 inches of moisture annually, is cold hardy and will grow at our ranch elevations. As a test we have put in 50 acres on some of our poorest ground. If it works it should provide improved winter grazing on many of our dryland acres for our cattle, sheep and also wildlife. Stay tuned for updates.