Except for lambing in cold weather our sheep are wintered outside. Pasture lambing is done in spring in warmer weather and shelter is provided by wooded areas. We do some winter lambing of mainly A.I. bred ewes. These lamb out in just a few days and lamb either in a barn or nearby pasture. All lambs are eartagged at birth with flock ID and also EID tags, which makes it possible to scan in their information and weight at weighing, saving time and eliminating errors.
The sheep are grazed on irrigated pastures, crops and high desert rangeland containing sagebrush and juniper. It’s necessary to feed hay in winter because of snow cover and cold weather.
We believe in maintaining the health of our sheep by raising them in a healthy outdoor environment and also by keeping a closed flock. Our ewe flock has been closed since 2004 and all rams are brought in by A.I. We provide a good mineral mix and pay attention to selenium levels since we’re in a deficient area.
For predator control we use livestock guardian dogs. We’re in rugged country bordered by BLM land on three sides and without good flock guardians predators would quickly put us out of business. Our sheep are spread out so it takes eight dogs to prevent losses.
We’ve been using laparoscopic A.I. for many years to access genetics from top Australian W. Dorper flocks using LambPlan. This has worked well for us and we’ve developed a broad base of bloodlines to work with. It also suits our operation since most Australian flocks are larger and are raised in more extensive environments.
Besides A.I. breeding, we also have breeding groups using our own rams. These are selected for top EBVs and also for desirable physical traits. Structural soundness, free moving, good shedding, pigmented eyelids, and other traits covered in the S. African standards are all important.
Also most Dorpers and W. Dorpers have the ability to breed out of season. This can be a valuable trait and one worth preserving. Besides fall lambing, it also makes it possible to get three lambings in two years.