Sheep farmers report having good times, good prices right now

Kroll is a broker for Mid-State Wool Growers, a company with sites in Ohio and Kansas. He packages and sends Roger and Brenda’s medium to lower grade wool there.

“At Mid-State, the wool is graded out and eventually made into clothing,” Roger said. “Some of the more course wool might be made into things like the felt lining found inside a farmer’s jacket. Some of the highest grade is made into things like shawls or scarves.”

There are many benefits to shearing the ewes, Roger said.

“It’s more convenient for lambing; more convenient for the young lambs after they’re born and need to suckle; the ewes are not overheated in the summer months; it’s easier to give them shots; and they take up less room in their lambing barrels.”

“Plus, you can see what kind of condition they’re in,” Roger added.

The Ganzes grain their ewes just twice a year, before lambing and during breeding season.

“Once the ewes are sheared,” Roger said, “you can see what ones need some grain and which ones are already in good shape and don’t need grain. You don’t want them too fat, either, or they can have trouble lambing.”

When Roger and Brenda began raising sheep in the early 1990s, wool was bringing $.45 per pound, Roger said. With changes in pricing now going according to grade, they expect to get around $.15 per pound this year.

Roger and Brenda averaged more than seven pounds of wool from each ewe this year for a total of 726 pounds of wool.

“The price range is anywhere from zero to $.60 for the highest quality,” said Roger.

Roger explained, “We breed our ewes in December, which is late compared to a lot of others, but we do that so we can pasture lamb them. They lamb in May.”

The Ganz’s 50 acres of grass pasture is enough to feed the herd over the summer months on a rotation basis. They feed grass hay over the winter months.

Roger and Brenda raise their lambs to the age of eight months when they sell whethers and ewe lambs as feeders, although there are farmers who raise sheep for high quality wool, Roger said.

“We’re having pretty good luck,” said Roger. “Right now, the price is real good on feeder lambs.”

When they sell the whethers and ewe lambs in August, they weigh from 80 to 85 pounds, Brenda said. When the feeders are ready for slaughter, they weigh anywhere from 120 to 130+ pounds.

Roger and Brenda have received prices as low as $.45 for their feeders, and even less, they said. But prices are up this year— “Right now, the price is at $1.06,” Roger said.

“The prime cut of lamb is lamb chops,” Roger said. “They’re a lot like a pork chop, but they’re real small.” Though not readily available locally, Roger stated that they sell for $14.99 per pound at Byerly’s in St. Louis Park.

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