I love summer lambs! Even though we have never lost a lamb to the weather, I still worry when it is very cold and the wind howls terribly. In the summer it is so easy on the new lambs and their mothers. I look at nature and think it is not natural to have young in the dead of winter; perhaps I am wrong but I think the demand for spring lamb has led to the practice of farmers lambing in winter. We don’t do things that way, yes we do have most of our lambs in the winter but our lambs are generally not big enough by Easter for sale. That is one of the disadvantages of using Jacob Sheep but I believe the advantages prevail.
One reason we are able to have summer lambs is we don’t take our rams out of the pasture, when a ewe is ready the ram will be there to service her. This is something else we do differently. We also don’t have to worm our sheep or stay up at night to help with lambing. I wonder if anyone has run the numbers to see if the larger commercial lambs are worth the added labor and expense. I have noticed that the non-commercial breeds don’t bring as much at the livestock auctions so their advantage is greatly diminished when it comes time for sale.
The advantage may still yet come back to the heritage breed producer. If the meat is in fact better, an important reason why we use them, and we don’t have to depend on the stockyards to move our sheep to market, then we can overcome some impediments to selling our lamb.
Ohio produces a lot of lamb but most of it is consumed in other states, this is why we are so dependent on the brokers. Because of government laws we are not able to sell our processed lamb across state lines. This seems very strange to me as China is able to sell whatever they want to every state but I don’t want to go there just so I can sell my lamb to New York.
This has changed. State processing facilities can now apply for a new label that would allow farmers like me to sell our lamb directly to buyers in states that consume a lot of lamb. I plan to investigate this further and see if it will help me or merely discover that once again those with the power and the money have already found a way to keep the advantage.