How are breeding stock fed from birth onward?

We do not use feed creep feed, alfalfa or any other high-protein concentrate to our ewes or lambs. Breeding ewes are fed modest grass hay during winter, and are given 1-1.5¬†pounds each of dry corn-barley (8% crude protein) during the last 30-60 days of pregnancy, tailing off by the second week of nursing. Lambs are born on pasture and the ewes are grazing from lambing time onward. Lambs wean onto pasture grass alone and are given minimal de-worming treatment. Thus, we don’t get the average pound-per-day gains on lambs that people in intensive, indoor lambing operations achieve. But for our climate and region where feed and labor is very expensive, we feel this system breeds a better sheep: one that can perform outdoors with low inputs and labor. This is the sheep of the future.¬†

If you want to buy breeding stock that will fit in a grass-fed operation, it’s a good idea to buy them from a similar operation. You may find that purchasing sheep from a “hot house” rearing environment is hit-or-miss: some animals may do OK in a pasture-based system, but many will not thrive and you’ll be culling them in a year or two.

Can I put a deposit down on breeding stock to hold it for later pickup?

Yes, you can! Deposits on breeding stock are $100 per animal, and are non-refundable. We¬†cannot hold sheep without a deposit, because once you have reserved your sheep with money down, we will be turning away other potential buyers, and will have invested time in your transaction. If you are interested in purchasing stock, it’s a good idea to get your deposit and choices in as soon as you can, even if you can’t pick them up until later. Often we have people buy large groups of sheep; so literally they can be “here today, gone tomorrow!”

If you need us to hold sheep for more than 4 weeks from the time you pay your deposit and the sheep is available for pickup, we will require you to pay board, which is $1/day per animal.

Is your breeding stock registered?

Yes, my whole flock is made up of registered purebreds. I have a very small number of ewes which were “upgrades”, meaning they had some non-registered stock in their pedigrees, but have since reached the required threshold of 87.5% purebred and have been hair-coat inspected in order to be eligible for upgrade. I also sometimes use rams which are upgrades, products of careful outcrossing programs to breeds like Texels which not only bring us heavier muscling, but hybrid vigor.

Unless otherwise noted, if you want to register your purchases, just let me know and I’ll prepare the paperwork for you, and you can submit it to the registry at your cost. Since the registry has increased prices in recent years, I have stopped including registration/transfer in the price, since most of my customers don’t value this and don’t want to pay extra for it.

Occasionally, I sell unregistered, “commercial” stock at a lower price point. Sometimes these are accidental breedings; where the lambs are purebred, but I don’t know who the sire is (so, at best, those could be recorded as 50%). Other times, maybe it was a bummer lamb, grower lamb, or I was unsure of the quality at the time of sale, so I discounted the price, specifying that it would be commercial/unregistered. If you buy one of these, and down the road change your mind and wish to register it, I can support that if we mutually agree the animal is now worthy of registration. But I charge more for this, because now we are bringing the animal up to a different value than when it was sold, and I have the overhead of going back through my records to recover the registration information for submission. You’ll be able to tell by the website ad and what’s on your receipt, whether you had paid for a commercial/grower animal or a normally register-able animal.

What diseases do you test for in your flock?

OPP:¬†We have a history of whole-flock testing negative for OPP, the last one was in winter 2015. Weare now in a monitoring status, where a percentage of the flock is tested each year; the last test was in Q1 2017. Incoming sheep are tested upon arrival, before being mixed with the flock.¬†OPP is common everywhere in the U.S., is definitely in our area, and can have a devastating affect on flock productivity over time. Testing is expensive, but offers an insurance policy against a future crisis. Sure, you can pick up less expensive ewes from people who don’t test and just hope for the best. But you risk losing lambs, and ewes in the prime of their lives in years to come! Once you have it and it has spread throughout the flock, it’s a very emotionally painful, costly, and labor-intensive process to eliminate it.

CL: We had done some spot-testing in the past, and were all-negative; but then used the CL vaccine for several years. We eventually abandoned that practice, because the vaccine caused such irritating lesions. But, all the ewes that have been vaccinated have the potential to test positive for the bacteria. We will be embarking on a sampling program this year, to test all unvaccinated ewes and confirm clear status of the flock. Our flock has never had CL-like lesions externally, nor have they ever been observed on necropsy; and all sheep that die here are necropsied.

Johnes: We have only spot-checked for it historically and have never had a positive case, nor have we observed the symptoms in sheep here.

Scrapie: We are enrolled in the export-monitored program of the USDA Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP) since 2009; and our current status date (due to bringing in new breeing stock) is August 2016. We mostly use RR rams, so most of the lambs born here will be QR or RR, and thus, resistant to classical scrapie. ¬†Scrapie is on its way out in the U.S., with only a few source flocks still in existence. It hasn’t been found in Washington state in over a decade, and is also less common in whiteface breeds. Thus, we feel that focus on this disease is no longer warranted for Katahdin flocks in WA state. We do still test breeding rams for RR/QR/QQ status, so that buyers can make an informed decision.

Can you export breeding stock?

Yes, we can! Exporting livestock from the U.S. is really more about importing to your country, wherever you are. So the best place to start is to check with your local government agriculture department to find out what the requirements are. We are in the “export monitored” category of the U.S. Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP); which means we maintain careful records, submit samples of culls and deadstock to the USDA lab for testing, and have annual inspections with staff from our state veterinarian’s office. This is the first requirement for most countries to allow stock to be imported, is that they come from an active SFCP flock.

The next requirement is usually that a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) is obtained. The buyer pays for our local veterinarian to come out and inspect the sheep for health, and she registers this inspection with the¬†state vet office, so it’s an official record. There is usually a limited time frame in which the CVI is considered valid for the animal to travel to its destination country.

The buyer will obtain an import permit from his country,  which will be linked to the CVI, and contain the particulars of the import: source flock, identity of the animals, the mode of transport across borders, and the planned time frame of the import.

There may be other requirements- testing for certain diseases (which our vet would also do at the time of the CVI inspection), tattooing the animal with the country of origin name, or filling out documents verifying our flock has been free of diseases of concern, like OPP, for a number of years. Some countries require a quarantine procedure before the animals are shipped.

We can work with you to meet your requirements for importation, just ask!