We caught up with the breeder of the Grand Champion Market Lamb at the 2022 Tulsa State Fair. We invite you to read our candid interview with Wether Or Not Club Lambs below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Breeder Spotlight.”
TELL US ABOUT THE BREEDING OF YOUR STATE FAIR CHAMPION:
Say When x Donor 7081. Of course, everyone already knows Say When….the maternal side is one we are extremely proud of because she was raised by us and is line bred Team Johnson genetics.
TELL US YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR BARN/MOST INTERESTING OBSTACLE YOU HAD TO WORK AROUND WITH YOUR BARN:
We have been in and out of hundreds of barns and wouldn’t say ours is anything that excels compared to any other operations. We would say that we are firm believers of simplistic layouts, equipment that allows us to be efficient and having our barn set up in a way that makes it easier for clients to look through lambs. We guess one cool part about our operation is Location, Location, Location!!! Did we mention we are extremely accessible being centrally located about a mile off of I64 between Lexington and Louisville. Something else that makes our location unique is that we’re probably the only club lamb operation with a bourbon distillery as its neighbor on the other side of the fence.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Our typical day doesn’t look to untypical to most in the industry. However, we are a three man operation of longtime best friends who have remained that way for 35 years. None of us are full time farmers, so that may make us a little atypical as we try to get daily tasks accomplished during busier times of the year. We are normal as most of our day is focused around feeding sheep, going to work, and feeding sheep again. The advantage is that there are frequently three of us checking on the sheep for health issues and treating accordingly. Good record keeping is essential so each of us know what the other has done.
If you look at our program under a microscope based on seasons, we’d say that the winter is the one time all three of us are consistently at the main barn and operation. With differing schedules, we balance checking for new born lambs, working lambs for vaccinations, getting lambs prepped for customers/sales and always watching UK basketball while eating our favorite KY winter barn lunch- Chili!
Throughout the spring we fill time at the barn by meeting and assisting customers, networking with local farm friends and spending time with our children and students by working hard to select our show lambs and pigs.
Throughout the early summer we continue to work with clients and local students as they are in the middle of show season in KY and the Midwest. We are busy making decisions on flushing ewes, prepping to breed, making genetic observations and selections, and breeding the ewe base.
As summer wraps up, we are during our state fair season. We start all over by prepping the barn for winter, getting ewes in optimal condition, wrapping up breeding season and cheering on the CATS playing some SEC football!
BEST LAMBING TIP?
Most people probably focus more on the baby lambs, but one trick we stick to religiously when lambing is focusing on the momma’s health. We always provide fresh warm water directly after lambing with a pinch of electrolytes to get the ewes hydrated and replenished. We feel this also helps the ewe to go ahead and expel their placenta more timely.
HOW LONG DO YOU LEAVE YOUR LAMBS IN JUGS?
We normally leave our lambs in the jugs for 3-7 days depending on lamb health, how many lambs the ewe had, how bad we need additional lambing jug space, etc. We like to get the ewes and lambs off to a strong start before releasing them into the next phase of their life.
THE WORST PART ABOUT RAISING SHEEP IS…
When you lose a lamb. No matter what, it always seems to be a “good one” and you always walk away wondering what may have been and what you could have done differently to prevent it. On the flip side, it is always satisfying to save one that got off to a difficult start in life.
THE IDEAL SHEEP CUSTOMER TO ME IS:
The ideal sheep customer to us is someone who likes to give honest feedback, takes an active role in taking care of their animals, and takes the time to get one prepared and presented well. Also, we do this because we enjoy the people and the industry, so finding people that have the same passion we do is always exciting for us!!!
IF I DIDN’T HAVE LIVESTOCK YOU’D FIND ME….
As for me and my wife Megan you’d probably have luck finding us lounging poolside or maybe in a dance off, but not for reasons you may think. (I can’t swim and my wife says I can’t dance)…Our girls keep us busy at swim meets and dance competitions throughout the year.
As for Josh, he’d probably be busy camping more often with his family, supporting his son’s FFA chapter alongside his wife Christi, or maybe he’d just be busy BORING the earth around him! (He owns and operates a horizontal boring company).
JR could be found alongside his wife Rachel on the soccer field watching their boys play and dreaming of his playing days, or lost in thought in his classroom or ag shop. If not for sheep, you probably would be watching him in the WWE as a scrappy professional wrestler.
Ultimately at the end of the day, if you are looking to find all three of us together, your best bet may be to go to a pig show or UK tailgate!