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K Bar K Farm

The Ewe Flock

We started with 14 foundation ewes in 1997.  Many of these ewes were aged ewes that retained a lot of the "old style" Dorset characteristics-stout, meaty, productive  animals.  We are striving to maintain these characteristics in our flock as well as the excellent mothering and out of season lambing characteristics.  Many of the older ewes have exhibited out of season breeding for the prior owner, or were fall born themselves. In addition, all sires are from accelerated flocks. 

     Our early lambing typically occurs in mid February for 55-60 lb. Easter market lambs. In addition, this early lambing will allow time for rebreeding for fall lambing. Our ewes are excellent milkers (on little to no grain- read on), as the 30 day weights prove, where the lambs average over 1 lb. of body weight per day of age. Lambs that are born in fall (Sept-Nov) or late spring (April/May) are not creep fed, nor are the dams supplemented (except in case of very poor forage quality and/or drought). Our lush pastures typically provides adequate nutrition for these ewes and lambs to thrive.  

We pride ourselves on our biosecurity measures. Our ewe flock is closed (since 2002), and the entire flock (rams included) has been closed to live animals since 2005. We now utilize artificial insemination to continue our genetic improvement.

We occasionally breed a few ewe lambs (first lambing at 12-14 months of age), however, as we've moved to a forage-based system that results in lower growth rates than when grain-fed, we often wait until 12-18 months of age to breed them. I won't breed a ewe lamb until she is approximately 2/3 of her mature weight. While they have the reproductive capability of breeding earlier, they often don't have the maturity or body capacity to carry the pregnancy. We find that by giving these young ewes additional time to grow and mature, they have a longer, more productive flock life. Our yearlings (lambing at 12-18 months of age) typically produce a 150% lambing rate, and raise lambs unassisted.  Our mature ewes typically have a 180-190% lambing rate (occasionally breaking 200% with mature ewes), with very few lambs orphaned or grafted.  

      Our ewes are very low maintenance. They lamb unassisted (or else 'grow wheels') and require minimal supplemental feed. February-lambing ewes are fed grass hay in mid pregnancy (once the pasture runs out in the fall), then dairy-quality alfalfa hay in late pregnancy. For the past 3-4 years, we have not fed any ewes grain pre-lambing, and only offer 1- 1.5 lb. of whole shelled corn to ewes bearing triplets (and occasionally a yearling with twins). This grain is discontinued when ewes/lambs go out on pasture in mid-April. Ewes with singles and twins are not fed grain as long as forage quality is adequate. May- and fall-lambing ewes are pastured with no supplementation prior to or after lambing unless forage quality is very poor.

      We keep track of the flock with the Ewebyte Sheep Management software.

We have been enrolled in LambPlan since 2000, with over 1,500 individual animals recorded with Lambplan. We have been scanning loin eyes on our flock (for input into LAMBPLAN) since 2003. With the current agreement between NSIP and LambPlan, we now have cross-flock EBVs (Expected Breeding Values) as we have sold rams into several NSIP flocks. 

We are a Certified flock in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program.

     We sell Dorset yearling rams, weaned ewe lambs and occasionally mature ewes (see for sale site). Contact us if you are interested.  

 

Copyright 2014 

K Bar K Farm                                                                                                                                                

Last Updated April 17, 2014

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