We have been slowly developing our flock of dairy sheep since 2004. We initially bred two high quality Friesian ewes to a Friesian/Targhee cross ram that was a direct descendant of Blue 40 from New Zealand. To diversify the genetics of the flock, in 2011, we introduced a Friesian/Lacaune ram as well as 20 young ewes that are a hardy cross of Friesian/Polypay/Columbian and Lacaune. Currently we have fluctuating small flock size of about 70 head.
All of our sheep products are certified Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) through A Greener World. This program audits and certifies family farms raising their animals humanely, outdoors on pasture or range. Farmers who earn the AWA seal benefit from having a third-party verification of their high-welfare practices and consumers benefit by knowing that the humane label means what it says.
We are members of Fibershed; an organization committed to building regenerative regional fiber systems. Fibershed has connected us to a network of other fiber producing farmers and expert resources to refine our farming practice to build soil and protect the health of our biosphere through carbon farming. Check out the new Fibershed Cooperative Marketplace.
If you are enthusiastic about dairy sheep we encourage you to join DSANA, the Dairy Sheep Association of North America. DSANA has an annual Dairy Sheep Symposium offering workshops, seminars and an established internet community all of which have proven to be an invaluable source of information and inspiration for us.
Our Sheep dairy
Our dairy was reconstructed from the shell of a 32'x10' portable classroom trailer. We use 3 bucket milking systems that run off a vacuum line with inflations to milk 6 animals at a time. Our squeeze style stanchion can accomodate about 12-13 sheep.
MORE FRIESIAN Breed info
The East Friesian dairy sheep originated in northern Germany and the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. Imported as purebreds into the U.S. from Canada in 1994, this breed has the highest milk production of the improved dairy sheep breeds. They are a docile, large size, open white faced, polled breed with a coarse grade staple length wool. Their most distinctive physical feature is a "rat-tail", thin and free of wool. A high percentage of ewes will lamb at 12 months of age and mature ewes are highly prolific. Litter size in the East Friesian is reported as averaging 2.25 lambs with a milk yield per ewe of 500-700 kg per lactation testing 6-7% milk fat, the highest average dairy milk yield recorded for any breed of sheep.
The East Friesian is considered to be the worlds highest producing dairy sheep. They are highly specialized animals and do poorly under extensive and large flock husbandry conditions. It is perhaps no mere coincidence that the region of Friesland is also the origin of the Friesian cattle breed, including the Holstein which has the highest milk yield of any breed of livestock. Friesian cattle and East Friesian sheep are alike in other important regards. Neither fares well in harsh hot environments but both have produced excellent crossbreeds with adapted local breeds.
Breed definition as defined by the American Diary Sheep Association
Additional information by Wesley Combs, Canada, Consultant in International Livestock Development
We currently have two livestock guardian animals to assist us in protecting the flock. We have a Great Pyrenees dog with our milking ewes and a guard llama with our weaned lambs and retirees.