It is not our goal to push for maximum production. Since the ewes are who we look after 365 days a year, our aim is to maintain a naturally healthy, robust, easy keeping ewe who will thrive on our pasture environment while producing good lambs and decent wool. This equates to a flock of sheep that does not require the treatments that have become accepted as routine throughout the industry.
We do not feed grain, pelleted feed, or creep feed. We aim to keep animals grazing as long as is suitable for grass health. We utilize stock piled forage and swath gazing when grass begins to run out. As we head into our coldest winter months we feed a grass/alfalfa hay which is rolled out on the ground. We do not pinch our animals on feed during cold winter months since we are not offering any other supplemental feed.
Our mineral program is very important in aiding us in keeping a flock of healthy animals. We follow the program laid out in Pat Coleby's book, Natural Sheep Care, with adjustments made for our place and for the sheep.
Our worming protocol is to selectively worm those individual animals who need treatment. The last whole flock worming treatment we did was back in 2007, when we switched over to our current mineral plan. We are convinced that focusing on the ewe flock rather than on maximizing lamb production is why we have a flock of ewes that require very little in the way of routine treatments. If the ewes are well kept the lamb crop will be there.
The flock lambs on pasture beginning in mid May and throughout June. Our favourite method of pasture lambing is drift lambing as it allows a single shepherd to readily manage the flock throughout lambing. We dock tails and castrate male lambs throughout lambing by banding. With lambing on pasture the ewes are being tested for being good mothers. There are no jug pens to hold them to their lambs or allow the shepherd to easily interfere. In this way we know we are producing ewes we want to retain in our flock.