February 01, 2023

From the Pastures: Spring is coming

This year’s meetings start Jan. 26-27 with the Driftless Region Beef Conference and then Feb. 2-4 with the Grassworks Grazing Conference at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin, and the next one is at the same time, Feb. 3, in Shipshewana, Indiana, for the Northern Indiana Grazing Conference. In Illinois, we have the Dudley Smith Farm Winter Meeting on Feb. 7 in Taylorville. Indiana is holding this year’s Heart of America Grazing Conference from Feb. 20-21 in Ferdinand, Indiana, and the Southern Indiana Grazing Conference will be held March 29 by Odon, Indiana.

These are just the close ones because there are also meetings in Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri and Pennsylvania. So, there are a lot of meetings — I mean reasons — to get out of the house, take a trip and go learn something all at the same time. For more detailed info, call or text Christian Lovell at 317-650-6161. He is our new Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition grazing coordinator and is willing to help you.

I talked to Rick Adams last Monday and he had just finished pregnancy checking his pasture sheep flock. He’s putting a hair sheep ram on his wooled ewes to make a hair-type sheep. He’s done this with a Katahdin and a Dorper ram over the last several years and this year he used an Australian White ram. Besides the old ewes that this ram lamb bred, he also bred 22 of 23 ewe lambs. That’s an impressive 96% bred rate and for ewe lambs — if you get 66% bred your doing good. Plus, he’ll just turn 1 year old this coming March.

Australian Whites have only been in the United States for about three years and they are bigger and meatier than a Dorper hair sheep. Two weeks ago I got paid for my 2022 wool clip and I received a whopping 1 penny per pound of wool. That plus the 40 cents per pound of wool I got from the government loan deficiency payments equaled only one-fourth the cost of the shearing. Plus, I still had my labor to set up the shearing area. I bagged the wool for the shearer and then tore down and stored the shearing area, which equaled two days of labor. Now do you see why hair sheep are increasing in numbers?

Well, hopefully this month will be cold, rainy and snowy because I find it hard to sit in meetings when it’s in the 40- to 50-degree temperature range. Spring is coming.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.