Milk Fed Lamb
Our operation can be described by a single word, "Transhumance." We move our sheep from lowland pastures in the spring
to mountain pastures in the summer. This allows us to grow our lambs on open range at their mothers’ side. Only the
very best lambs are raised solely on the natural forage of the open range and mothers’ milk.
Great lamb comes to the table as a combination of breeding, feeding and kitchen preparation. There are several breeds of
sheep, which have superior flavor. For our sires, we favor the British breeds of Dorsett, Suffolkshire, Hampshire, as well
as the Southdown. These breeds have been raised for the last several centuries in order to be eaten. All of these breeds grow
wool, but wool is merely a byproduct of their production.
The feeding of lambs is best done at their mother’s side. We believe that natural clover, grasses, forbs and browse
make the best sheep feed. This feed is high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals. It helps the ewe make more milk,
and develops healthy muscles and bones in the lambs. We have found that the East Friesian dairy breed of sheep makes an excellent
mother. This breed naturally produces more milk for a long period of time. This milk production helps our lambs grow quickly
into the lamb we seasonally sell as milk fed spring lamb. These lambs have carcass weights from 30 to 40 pounds.
The lamb for which we are famous is our milk fed spring lamb. The lamb is two to five months old. Its flavor is delicate,
and its texture is very tender. It is only sold as a petit whole carcass. Our lamb is regarded by San Francisco Magazine as
the best lamb available in San Francisco.
East Friesian Milking Sheep
The East Friesian milking sheep is the mainstay of the sheep dairy industry in the United States. The breed is known for
its long period of lactation, and its heavy production of milk. We have found the breed to be prolific and unusually good
mothers. More often than not, they will have multiple births, and are able to keep their babies at their side. At the end
of the season, we find that they produce more pounds of lamb than any other breed.
Our original ewe flock was based upon the Polypay breed. To this we have added Dorsett and Suffolk genetics. This breeding
gave us a larger framed sheep and prolificacy. However, we needed to add dairy genetics to our flock in order to optimize
production. Greater milk production gives us faster rates of growth in our lambs. For this reason the East Friesian breed
was added to our flock.
There are two genetic lines in our East Friesian flock. Our original rams came as the result of embryo transfers. Robin
Knudsen; of Calgary, Alberta is the veterinarian who provided these genetics. Our second line comes from the Old Chatham Sheepherding
Company. Our next step in genetic improvement will be to introduce other milking breeds to our flock.
At present we have crossbred East Friesian ewes for sale. They are 50% East Friesian yearlings and two-year-olds. These
ewes will be lambing this spring and again this fall. We also have purebred ram lambs for sale. We prefer to sell the sheep
in packages of 25 or 50 ewes with two or three unrelated ram lambs. These packages give the buyer a breeding season or two
before new rams need to be purchased.
Rocky Mountain Wooly Weeders is first and foremost a mowing service. We realized many years ago that our pastures looked
like a golf course at the end of a grazing rotation. We also found that vineyards benefited from the mowing we did for them.
Many acres of open space grassland and chaparral have also benefited from the mowing that we have done.
Our mowing service is cost effective. Farmers and open space managers know what it costs them to manage their lands. We
propose to mow the land at 80% of the known costs for weed control. Sheep can operate in conditions where men and machines
are not preferred. We are especially effective in steep rocky terrain or in tightly spaced vineyards. We come in before bud
break and leave the site ready for the growing season. The frost and fire hazards are diminished by our efforts.
Sheep do well on noxious weeds. Yellowstar Thistle, Knapweed, Leafy Spurge, Poison Oak and Blackberry are all weeds that
sheep love to eat. We will need to visit your site before we bring in the sheep. There are some sites where sheep are not
the best choice. Timing is important. We need to have our sheep on site during the growing season for greatest efficacy.
Fire hazard mitigation is one of the most important roles that sheep can play. Sheep not only eat the grass and brush that
pose a threat from fire, they trample what they won’t eat, and cover the remaining fuel with dust. This dust retards
the fire when the grass or brush is ignited. We have methods, which cut the grass down to the dirt. We can make pathways,
which resemble handlines cut around a fire. In so doing, we can make predesigned firebreaks, or strategically remove excessive
fuel loads from specific fire prone areas.
Agriland Farm Service
Agriland Farm Service is our sister company, which consults in the realm of cover crops, grassland and range management.
We provide species selection in native and non-native grasses, legumes and forbs. The replacement of preferable species is
essential when using our mowing service. We can remove noxious weeds with sheep, but there needs to be competitive specie
in order to replace and retain healthy grasslands for the long term.
Our mowing service is often called upon to remove noxious weeds. The most common weeds we remove are the Centaurea. These
include Yellow Star Thistle and a variety of Knapweeds. These plants are palatable to sheep and when grazed at the right time
are controlled quite well. However, it is essential to have a plan in order to keep the grassland progressing away from infestations
of noxious weeds. Competitive replacement specie need to be present and growing after the weeds are mowed. Have a vision of
what you want the grassland look like.
In the temperate regions of the West Coast, we have been successful in establishing clover and grasses in open range and
in vineyards. Subterranean clover with other annual clovers and medics are commonly used in the progression of specie. Perennial
grasses, both native and non-native, are included in this process. The combination of grasses and legumes provides symbiotic
specie within the sward, which enhance its nutrition and erosion control capability.
Wild flowers are also an option in the progression of specie for a grassland. Under the right conditions, wildflowers can
replace weeds. The flowers are often nutritious to wildlife and add a spectrum of color.