Dorper Sheep Show

A White Dorper Sheep class at Mid-American Dorper Show April 2022

The past two days I have been attending the American Dorper Sheep Breeders Society Mid-American Show and Sale in Duncan, Oklahoma. This event is fairly close to where I live, meaning travel expenses are lower than if I went to other events.

Why do I attend this event? I am a sheep farmer raising Dorper sheep. Attending this event I have to opportunity to meet with and talk to other Dorper Sheep breeders. I study their animals and their bloodlines. As a sheep farmer I will need to purchase breeding rams for my farm every two to three years. I want to know what other sheep breeders raise that would benefit my breeding plans for my sheep.

It is an event that brings anxiety as I am very nervous in large crowds. This year the event was even more crowded. With the lifting of many of the moretoriams due to Covid-19, people were able to travel, show and sale their sheep from states that previously they had not been able to travel to. The event is also a large learning time for me to study sheep and bloodlines. I also get to connect with sheep farmers whose sheep I like and want to put their bloodlines in my flock. Sheep farmers are able to see what the sheep look like that others are breeding and what bloodlines they are using with their sheep.

Sheep farmers like looking at others sheep. Talk to each other about the influences in the sheep agriculture business. Mostly, they like to show they have the best sheep. Yes, the show is very competitive. When the sale day arrives, there are some sheep who fetch a very high price as there are sheep farmers wanting to improve their sheep, and bring in different bloodlines.

Two years of not being able to buy rams and ewes with different bloodlines, put the breeding plans on a holding pattern of just maintaining the quality of their sheep, without improving their sheep.

When you live in an area, the area gets saturated with certain bloodlines. Breeding only those bloodlines does not improve your sheep, but can cause your sheep to degrease, as the recessive genetics start showing up as dominant traits. With these large show and sales, sheep farmers are offered the opportunity for bloodlines very different than the ones they have.

Several sheep farmers in different states are bringing in bloodlines from Australia to diversify the bloodlines in the United States. Sheep embryos are purchased, shipped to the United States and implanted in a ewe in their flock. The expense of shipping embryos is much less than trying to ship a sheep. This method is too expensive for me at this time. But I have learned at the event, a sheep farmer and friend has done that and the embryo produced a ram. Great news as a ram will put the bloodlines in many lambs, where a ewe will only put the bloodlines in her lambs.

At this event I met and talked with a breeder and we became friends. They were also able to tell me about the new ram I purchased. The information was most helpful. I am looking forward to more visits as they are close to where I live. Although it will be difficult to purchase sheep from them, since the new ram I purchased came from ewe and ram they had sold to the person I purchased the ram from. Sharing knowledge and conversation will be good.

At the sale I purchased three ewes to add to my breeding program. The person I had purchased the ewes from has been most friendly to us. Has wanted to help us in the sheep business. He has definitely encouraged me to on improving my sheep and showing my sheep. Although I did not have a sheep to show this year. I do have a couple to show next year. He was so thrilled we purchased sheep from him.

Some things I left with I need to learn more about artificial insemination and looking into doing embryo transfers. I also need to find a veterinarian who has working knowledge of the procedures and does them with a good success rate. I will be busy for the next year learning more about being a sheep farmer.

Regardless of what you do for income or as a hobby, there is always more to learn. I need to learn to move forward and improve in what I am doing as a sheep farmer, and with the other things I do with my life.

amtolle

A New Man In Town

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

TODAY WAS AUCTION DAY !! I am a sheep farmer. I raise registered Full Blood Dorper sheep and unregistered or commercial Dorper sheep. Today was the second Saturday of the month and auction day.

I go to a local auction owned and operated by a young man. I watched him grow up and grow his sheep and goat business to be able to purchase the sale barn. He has watched me develop my herd from the purchase of cheap cull sheep, to selecting and breeding to now produce the highest selling market lambs at his auction. Needless to say, we have history.

The sheep and goat auction is my one social event where I leave the farm for a few hours to talk and mingle with like minded people, other sheep and goat farmers or those who want to raise some sheep and goats. The auction is its own social club, where people know people and do business. I have friends that is the only place we meet, as we live hours apart. We discuss sheep prices, the weather, how to make moonshine and other various topics. It is also the place I make contacts for selling breeding stock.

Today, I was going with a purpose other than social. The owner of the sale barn had posted pictures on face book of some registered Full Blood Dorper rams. These rams looked really nice in the pictures, but there were no pictures of the registration papers. Very seldom at the auction will high quality registered Dorper sheep be consigned for the sale. I decided I would have a look.

I woke up earlier, did chores earlier. It was freezing weather today. I decided to take only the truck, and not bother connecting the trailer as I probably would not need it. I arrived at the sale barn at 8 am, when they open the doors. I went inside to look at the registration papers on the rams posted to face book. I was checking their age and bloodlines. If the bloodlines do not work with my breeding program I do not bother looking at the sheep. Bloodlines would work with my flock, plus three of the rams were from sets triplets lambs. That is a plus.

Brave the freezing wind and look at the rams. I was not the only one looking. Another person who is a sheep broker (He buys sheep for others to purchase, or represent others in a purchase) was also looking, actually he was drooling. I was judging the sheep. To maintain or improve my quality of sheep, I have to be very picky about the purchase of sheep for my breeding program. I judged every ram in the pen, placed them first, second and third.

Next, come up with a plan for the bidding on these rams. In any auction, you need to know what you are looking for. Next, set the highest price you can pay for it and do not change your mind once bidding has started. Have a plan on how you are going to bid before the item comes up for bidding. If you do not have a plan and price, you will get pulled in by the auctioneer’s spell and spend way too much for something. I see it happen the second and fourth Saturday of every month.

My plan on bidding for the ram was to “separate the men from the boys” as they say. I knew what the starting bid would probably bid. I knew what the animal was worth. I was going to start the bidding, and my first bid was going to be higher than normal, but not top dollar for the animal. I had my top bid set in my mind and was not going to higher. Today, was serious business.

By now, others were arriving. I met with friends and exchanged conversation. I drank coffee and waited for the show to start. The show starts when the auctioneer takes his seat, and everyone else gets in place. The front rows are reserved for buyers, people who spend hundreds to thousands each sale. I am not one of those. I chose to stand along the sides until the rams I was going to bid on came into the ring.

The sale started, bottle babies both sheep and goats that have to be bottle fed because they are so young. Then a some sheep and goats. Finally the rams marched in. I left my position along the side, walked up to the front, and stood in the center and stood next my friend Dennis seated on the front row. He asked if they were my sheep. I said no. He laughed and said not yet anyways. Dennis, his wife and my best friend, Connie and I had a short laugh.

Instead of selling them one at a time, like I thought they would. They were going to sell choice, which means a person bids, the one with the highest bid gets to choose which one or several they are going to buy from the group. Choice, I was pleased, would work really well with my plan.

After a brief description stating they were registered full bloods and their age, the auctioneer asked the sale barn owner, what you want to start them at? I looked straight at the auctioneer and loudly replied with my bid 800. The broker who was drooling outside looking at the rams, just dropped his head, he was out bid. The auctioneer looked at me as did the sale barn owner, and the rapid, flurry of bidding started. I kept my eyes locked on the auctioneer, every time someone bid higher than me, the auctioneer looked me eye to eye, and I nodded my new bid. When the gavel hit, I owned a new ram and I did not reach my top bid.

Dennis, Connie and the other professional buyers and brokers on the front and second rows, congratulated me on the purchase of really fine ram. We know each other my name. We laugh and joke at the sale. We have funny stories to share from our Saturdays at the sale barn.

Now, I had to pay for my ram, and go home to get the trailer in order to take the ram home.

Meet “JUMBO”, registered Full Blood Dorper, born March 2021. The new man at the farm. He will cross well with my other ram, “Max”.

“Jumbo”, the new man at the farm.

If you enjoy watching people, an auction is a fun place to go. Look for people’s bidding technique, some nod, some just move a finger, some way wildly in the air, each has their own way of letting the auctioneer know they are wanting to buy.

Hope you enjoyed. I am excited about this new guy, and am looking forward to his lambs.

amtolle