Easy Care Sheep

Joe Hopping

    In 1998 we added hair sheep to our livestock operation. We were very fortunate to purchase a reputation flock that had originated in the Waco, Texas area. An elderly gentleman had bred them for many years and his life-long goal had been to develop a parasite tolerant flock of sheep.

   After several years of raising hair sheep we now have a flock of 500 ewes. Their breeding is approximately 1/2 Katahdin, 1/4 Dorper, and 1/4 Florida Native. The majority are off-white or dun in color and have dark colored hooves.

   Our sheep are rotationally grazed right along with our cattle. Our ewes lamb unassisted in large paddocks starting April 20th. They all lamb in a 35 day period. Livestock guardian dogs provide protection from coyotes, stray dogs and other predators. The lambs are marketed in late fall right off their mothers weighing approximately 70 lbs. We normally wean a 150% lamb crop. The wether lambs go to an East Coast buyer and a percentage of the ewe lambs are retained for replacements and the remainder are sold for breeding stock at the farm.

   We are advocates of Tom Lasater's philosophy of cattle raising and manage our sheep according to his principles. Any ewes that fail to breed or raise lambs are culled from the flock along with any other sheep that need special care for any reason - no exceptions. Our sheep are moderate in size, easy keepers, have good feet and legs, good hair coats, a high level of parasite tolerance and the ewes are excellent mothers.

   We have maintained a closed flock for years and raise our own rams. We keep them out of ewes that are very thrifty, easy keepers that raise good twin lambs year after year.

   Hair sheep are an excellent addition to any forage based livestock operation and fit well with any cattle operation. They can be added with very little modifications to cattle fences or corrals. Sheep have a very high rate of return per dollar invested due to multiple births and low input costs. Many times ewes will pay for themselves with the sale of that year's lamb crop. Sheep really help clean up pastures due to a large part of their diet consisting of weeds and browse.

   If you are interested in purchasing ewe lambs or have a sincere interest in hair sheep contact W.E. "Hoss" Hopping at 918-486-2212. Hoss manages the sheep operation and is also a strong advocate of holistic management and the mob grazing of animals. Hoss enjoys visiting about livestock and grazing management and welcomes your call.