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The end of another breeding season

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ewes fall 2013
BROOD EWES SURVIVING ON LATE FALL PASTURE
For us at Bunker Hill Farm the end of the breeding season also means we have closed the book on the success or failure of our 2014 lamb crop. For those of us who grew up showing sheep getting the ewes bred was just the beginning of a long process which finally ended in the showring. As 4-H'ers we were all told that we could make our lambs better though good husbandry practices. However, this is simply not the case for true seedstock producers whose main focus should be improving sheep genetically. Most of our management going forward is centered on our ability to predict the genetic potential of each of our lambs (ie: accurate records and the use of EBVs). Not only does being able to judge an animals breeding potential allow us to make faster improvement in our flock but also allows our custermers the ability to buy sheep with confidence that they will perform as advertised. Case in point, several years ago we had two pretty good ram lambs with the thought we would keep one to breed with and consign the other to the Midwest Stud Ram Sale. Two years later the ram we had kept for ourselves had sired nothing but dogs and the ram we had sold ending up being the real deal. Even though we had a happy buyer we had wasted two years of genetic progress in our flock by not being able to properly predict the true genetic value of the two young rams. Lesson learned, do a better job of evaluateing our lamb crop which is the whole point of the National Sheep Improvement Program(NSIP).
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