You don’t eat no meat? That’s ok. We’ve got lamb. We have a flock of about 30 ewes that are great moms and love to be on pasture munching grass and chewing their cud. We raise the Polypay breed of sheep, which are known for averaging two lambs per birth, being excellent moms, and doing well on a pasture-based diet. If you go to your local agricultural fair, you’ll typically see sheep with black faces or black-faced sheep as we call them. These are very muscular animals that produce a large carcass, but require a lot of grain to grow and tend to have delayed fertility and smaller litters than Polypays. Outside of the fair circuit white-faced sheep are more common, but at the fair, you’re looking at the odd ball. Those are our sheep! Polypays are desired for their fertility and mothering qualities and so large-scale shepherds like to breed polypay ewes to black-faced rams to produce exceptional lambs. In 2014 and 2015, Mary showed market lambs and breeding animals at the Chelsea Fair. She takes the training of her animals very seriously and loves her lambs immensely. We think we may have even seen her give one of the lambs a kiss on its poll in the show ring! She does such a great job that this year she won showmanship for her age class in 2015. In 2016, Mary will have a protege at the Chelsea Fair - Ruthie will be getting in on the action! We know that she’s in expert hands with Mary. Here’s a video of Mary winning showmanship with her market lamb Sam:
Mary had a little lamb... And it helped her win 1st place in showmanship!Posted by Nine Kids Farm on Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Because our production is pasture-based, we have a very seasonal schedule: we breed in the winter, lamb in the spring, and ship in the fall. We do breed a subset of ewes to lamb in January and February so that the kids will have animals to show at the summer fairs. We anticipate that we will have extra lambs to sell for children interested in getting involved in showing lambs. They will be ready to purchase in April. In general, most of our ewes are bred in December to lamb in May on our pastures. There is nothing cuter than a pair of lambs trailing their mom through the pasture or when a bunch of lambs get together and run laps around their paddock. The sheep graze with the cattle, which we think serve as a guardian animal protecting the sheep from predators. We select for animals that do well on grass and are able to lamb by the time they are 1 year old. To help us make selection decisions, we participate our animals’ weights, pedigrees, and breeding records into the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). During the grass-growing season the sheep move to fresh sections of pasture every 12 hrs. They eat stockpiled forage and cover crops planted in surrounding wheat fields in the fall and during the winter they eat hay or bailedge. When the lambs are about 60 days old they are weaned. Because our growing season is so short and we find the sheep don’t gain weight on hay, we have been experimenting with feeding the lambs grain to help them gain weight so we can market them before winter sets in. We like to have our animals weigh 100 lbs before we market them to our buyers so that the hanging weights are about 50 lbs. Although lamb is often criticized for tasting strong or gamey, this is often a breed or management-specific trait that does not affect our meat. We get wonderful feedback on the wonderful flavor of our lamb and many can’t distinguish meat from older animals (mutton) from that of the lambs.
We sell lambs for breeding stock and meat. The sheep also provide us with an ample annual supply of wool that we use to make rugs and various handicrafts that are always for sale.If you are interested in buying a ram lamb, let us know before May so we know who should be castrated. Ewe lambs would be ready for purchase in August. Most of our sheep go on to be sold at the United Producers livestock auction in Manchester, MI. If you are interested in buying lamb or mutton directly from us, we take reservations with a deposit and the animals will be processed at Dunbar’s Meat Packing Company. Traditionally, lamb has been a popular source of protein because it is a small enough animal to grow quickly and feed a family without taking up a bunch of space. We hope that we can provide that opportunity for your family.
Products and prices
- Breeding stock: Contact us
- Deposit: $100
- Half lamb: $5.25 /lb hanging weight
- Whole lamb: $5.00 /lb hanging weight
- Mutton: $4.00 /lb hanging weight