Farm near Rosetown helping increase sheep production
Published Friday, April 22, 2011 1:19PM CST
It's not uncommon to see barnyards on sheep farms full of babies in the spring. But for one farm near Rosetown, the number of young lambs is overwhelming.
Three times a day the Fensom's have to bring out the milk bottles to feed their baby lambs. Six were born to the same mother, and feeding all six is just a little too much for her. So the family is helping out.
"We come down with bottles morning and night," said Tyler Fensom, who raises sheep near Rosetown. "But for the most part she feeds them. There's one that's a little smaller and he takes a bottle a little more often. But most of them are getting what they need off of her."
The lamb's mother is a two year old Rideau-Arcott sheep. The breed is known for high birth rates, but even the Fensom's are amazed how many. The ten two-year-old ewes in this flock have produced 38 lambs this spring.
"We had a set of sextuplets, a set of quints, three sets of quads and the rest were triplets," said Sherry Fensom.
Multiple births are not unusual for sheep. Most have twins, some have triplets. But having four, five, or even six is very rare.
The Fensom's have only been raising Rideau-Arcott sheep for two years. The breed was developed in Canada in the 1980's, and their high birth rate and high milk production have been quite surprising.
"That's what they were bred for: to produce more lambs and raise them," said Sherry Fensom. "They're a mix of dairy-type sheep plus breeds that are prolific. And they can also breed out of season, which means you can get three lambings in two years out of these as well, if you want to."
There's such high demand for Rideau-Arcott breeding stock that the Fensom's new crop of lambs is already spoken for.
"We've had calls from the eastern part of Canada, people from Manitoba have called, actually getting out of hogs and starting into sheep," said Tyler Fensom. "And if we had 300 of them, we would have sold them all by now."
The family says they want to help spread the word about these fertile sheep. They think the breed will play a big role in helping increase sheep production across Canada.