We caught up with the breeder of the Reserve Grand Champion FFA Market Lamb at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. We invite you to read our candid interview with Doty Club Lambs below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Breeder Spotlight.”
What’s the pedigree of your champion?
The wether was a How High x (“L0940” Next Level). His mother is a female we own in partnership with Northeast Livestock. She was Reserve Supreme Champion Overall Ewe at the 2020 NE State Fair FFA Show. She already has raised the Grand Champion Lightweight at the 2022 Nebraska State Fair and a class winner at San Antonio Stock Show.
What makes your operation run smoothly?
Doty – We are a family run business. We are a team that works together. Smoothly is kind of a funny statement. We may not run as smooth as possibly all the time, but we are always doing it together.
Northeast – While many livestock producers understand that you never quite know what challenges each day will present, our operation has greatly benefitted from incorporating more efficient ways to do daily tasks and careful scheduling. For example, daily chores can all be completed without entering pens and when we do not have lambs on the ground, take around 15 minutes. Yet, with our non-sheep obligations, careful planning and scheduling is the absolute best thing we do each year. Each lambing group’s pre-breeding, breeding, lambing, working, picturing, and sales are on the calendar from 8-12 months. This helps us ensure that we are both around and available when needed and the sheep get the best care we are capable of.
How many head do you run?
Doty – We have around 400 head of ewes and multiple rams in our operation.
Northeast – We run black face, Dorset, and Southdown ewes. In total, we maintain around 45 mature ewes, retain 15-20 ewe lambs annually, and lamb out around 60 recips. Our facilities are set up well to handle these ewes in a fall, December/January, and March lambing groups, but ewes are forced to perform every time and we aggressively cull to maintain our mature numbers where they are. We attribute this mentality to the consistency we have seen in our lamb crops the past few years and the increasing success we have had nationally.
Do you have another job besides raising sheep? If so, what’s your occupation?
Doty – Philip is full time at the house raising sheep as well as helping with his family farm. Randa works for MU Extension as a Regional Extension Engagement Specialist.
Northeast – Eric is an attorney and Layne is a Channel seedsman. Both Eric and Layne are involved with the family farm, and Eric routinely assists his father-in-law as well. Between sales seasons for seed and sheep, breeding, lambing, calving, planting, and harvest, about the only month that is “free” is June.
In your opinion, who has been the most influential ram across the industry?
Doty – There have been many influential rams over the years for not just our operation, but the industry as a whole. Stud Duck, Trigger, Drop the Mic and Next Level are ones that come high on our list for sure. Without a doubt currently, Unicorn is the man and has been for multiple years!
Northeast – I think that we so often get caught up in the current rams or ram lambs that are so in vogue, but to us the test of time is the true evaluation of the potency of a genetic line. I think that when we look at the genetic makeup of the more influential rams out there today, especially when found in the dam’s side of the pedigree, the most influential ram in our mind is Trigger. The most influential genetic lines on our operation go back to Trigger very quickly and work on everything.
What’s your favorite livestock show?
oty – The Missouri State Fair is and will always be the sentimental favorite for our family! We have so many memories, stories and traditions around our family there. As far as the show itself we really enjoy Arksarben. The facility, the staff and the experience are 2nd to none!
Northeast – There is never anything quite as enjoyable as having a good showing at your own State Fair. We have been blessed to have a very successful run over the past several years in-state.
Do you prefer online sales or live sales?
Doty – We have a lot of online sales. It allows for a much larger outlet for marketing our livestock and reaching more cliental, but we absolutely love live sales. Nothing compares to seeing things in person, making connections and the overall experiences that live sales produce.
Northeast – Truth be told, we enjoy working with individual purchasers and selling off the farm the best. With that said, we offer all of our lambs online at Willoughby Sales. Our next sale up will be our fall born sale the middle of December. We are always excited for visitors, so look us up if you are traveling through Eastern Nebraska! Thank you!