We started our flock with twenty Dorper ewes in 2009. We chose Dorpers, because they are a small, stocky breed for meat production that thrive on a grass diet. Dorpers are a hair sheep breed, that grow coarse wool to keep them warm in the winter, but shed it for the summer months. They are curious, friendly, joyful sheep and are great mothers.
The sheep year begins in late April and May when the ewes have their lambs. We lamb to coincide with the return of grass so that the ewes go out on fresh new spring grass after lambing, which helps them produce abundant milk for their lambs. Most ewes have twin lambs although some will have just one, and occasionally they will have triplets or even quads. The ewes spend the grass season out on pasture with their lambs at their side.
Sheep are ruminants, like cattle, and therefore thrive on a diet composed of grass and forages. The sheep graze our pastures through the grass season and eat hay, when the grass is dormant. We practice managed grazing with our sheep, moving them through subdivided pastures every 1-3 days to ensure the best quality grass.
We have livestock guardian dogs who live with our sheep twentyfour-seven to protect them from predators, mainly coyotes and some times domestic dogs. We have both Maremma and Akbash breeds of dogs. The Maremma are from Italy and the Akbash from Turkey, but both breeds have evolved along with the domestication of sheep in this protection role. Ollie and Sarg arrived as pups in 2011 and have since matured into great guardians. We also have a new Akbash pup Luna. The dogs don’t need training to defend their flock. They do, however, need to be socialized and exposed to the sheep that they will bond with. Our dogs are people friendly, but are wary of strangers, so need to be introduced to anyone they meet by the person who cares for them daily.