How did you get involved in the club lamb industry? Did you show?
My family showed a lot of cattle and I showed club calves, I didn’t enjoy getting kicked and pulled around by the steers. We were feeding out some market lambs and we were able to show them as a project in 4-H, from that point on I was hooked. I was always interested in club lambs, and went on an internship at Pete and Paige Walters, which taught me a lot about the business.
Al’s was by marriage, his grandfather couldn’t believe we had sheep on a hog farm.
Did you attend college? If yes, were you on a judging team?
Yes, Al and I attended Hawkeye Tech, Al’s-major was Animal Science Kandy’s-major was Ag Business.
We both were on the Livestock Judging Team at Hawkeye. Our coaches were Bob Kimm ,Mike Dunphy and Al Snedgar. We truly learned a lot of valuable information and our team was successful under the direction of these coaches.
What genetics are you using or what is the backbone of your flock?
We currently are using breeding stock from Mike Stitzlein, Brian Johnson and Tyson Rule. Our ewe base has Miller, DeSpain, Cabaniss breeding behind them.
What is your favorite part of raising sheep?
Lambing Season-seeing the new babies and watching customers succeed with genetics purchased from us in their breeding stock operation or with a club lamb purchase. Then also working with youth to achieve their goals at all levels.
What is the biggest challenge to raising show lambs?
Finding the niche market for the ewe lambs
In your opinion, what is your biggest accomplishment (sheep-wise)?
Would be our customers, achieving their next step by using our stock to reach their goals.
If you could do one thing over again, what would it be (sheep-wise)?
We try not to look back and to look forward; you can’t change the past so just make the future better.
What do you feel are more important: Rams or Ewes? Why?
Ewes- if you don’t have a consistent ewe base with some predictability, you can’t get as far ahead as you need to in one generation.
How do you go about purchasing a new ram? Does scrapie testing come into play?
We always are out on the lookout for that next prospect, we look at our progeny and what we need to improve on and what our customers are saying, also what the industry is wanting and what genetics can get us there the quickest. We prefer to have a ram test no less than QRNN.
List the three most important priorities in selecting replacement females for your flock?
Structure, Design, Progeny
Do you use ET/AI? How do you see biotechnology fitting into your operation in the next 10 years?
Not at this time but can see us using it in the future.
Describe your facilities or describe what you think are the ideal facilities.
We have our ewes in a Morton Building 50x100 setting with runs, we have a closed facility in the winter with ventilation, we also have a Morton building 40x60 that we built for our show barn/gestation area. Our lambing pens are located in our redesigned hog house, which is also dual purposed depending on the season.
What’s your favorite lamb you’ve ever raised?
This one is close, Prince (Ak-Sar-Ben Champion ’10)
What do you feel is the most important issue facing the sheep industry?
Where do you see yourself/your flock in ten years?
Our life is at fast paced, so try to enjoy it more, raising top prospects and working and expanding our customer base, seeing them succeed.
If you had one piece of advice to someone who is starting to raise sheep what would you tell them?
Have patience, a lot of times we quit before we see the results. It takes time to build a program.
RANDOM QUESTIONS – Just for fun!
Outside of raising sheep, what do you do?
We raise Chester White Breeding Stock and Show Pigs. We both judge livestock shows, nationally. Al is also the feed specialist for ShowTec.
What was the name of your first ram? H.C.
What was the most influential ram in your flock? Dakota & Last Call
If you could talk to one person from the past who would it be?
Our Grandparents-they were so wise.
If you could trade places with anybody for one day, who would it be? Barbara Walters
Favorite place to travel/vacation? Wisconsin Dells
Favorite movie? The Secretariat
Favorite meal? A steak & ribs at Texas Roadhouse