We do not feed any grain to our ewes, rams or lambs except during lactation. Our lambs are on a creep feed and unlimited forage from birth to 4 months. Otherwise, a 100% forage/grass based management system is utilized. We strive to produce sheep that have very good parasite resistance, grow well on forage/grass and can flourish with minimal inputs. Through selective breeding, we also chose not to vaccinate our sheep and only treat when it deemed necessary. We practice rotational grazing with the sheep during the spring, summer and fall and feed grass/legume mix hay over the winter. We want adult ewes that can produce at least twin lambs and raise them successfully in this system. We expect our ewe lambs to be mature enough to be bred at 7 months old and raise at least one lamb. We do two fecal egg counts on each lamb, the first around weaning time and again one month later. We want our average fecal egg count to be at least 500 to make sure there is enough parasite challenge to be able to tell who has good parasite resistance.
We cull the worst performing 15-20% of our ewes every year and replace them with ewe lambs that should perform better based on their EBV's (Estimated Breeding Value) and performance data. We select the ewe lambs we use for replacements as well as the ewe lambs we offer for sale from the top 50% of our ewe lamb crop. The ram lambs that we retain for breeding or sell as breeding stock is out of the top 10% of our ram lamb crop.
Our selection process makes use of all the performance data such as birth weight, weaning weight, postweaning weight, fecal egg counts, scrotal circumference etc. that we collect. Documented parasite resistance based on multiple fecal egg counts are very important to us when it comes to the selection of parasite resistant breeding stock.
Lamb Crop Sires
LD Ranch is very "picky" when it comes to selecting its herd sires. Potential rams are chosen based upon factors such as genetics, body type, the overall thickness of the animal from the chest to the rump, color, rate of gain and rate of physical growth in the first 8 months of age.
Currently, we run rams from Kennedy, Lilyhaugen, Dorsch, Shultz, Tiki and Poy farms. We rotate our rams every 18 months. Rarely are replacement rams kept from our own breeding stock in an effort to bring new genetics into our offspring. If one is kept, it has to have met our stringent requirements and have the ability to produce a lamb crop that will exceed even his confirmation attributes.