Multiple lamb litters | TSLN.com

Multiple lamb litters

Loretta Sorensen

EMERY, SD – Trying “something different” with his sheep has more than doubled Rex Laufmann’s production rate the last three years. The change he made to his 20-year sheep raising plan was simple: he introduced a Romanov buck.

“I just stumbled across this because I couldn’t find a Polypay buck,” Laufmann says. “They were scarce and expensive. I read an ad about crossbred Romanov bucks an Iowa producer was selling. I decided to go look at them and ended up buying his purebred buck. His offspring were pretty impressive. The farmer was at a point where he needed to bring in new blood and I talked him into letting this purebred one go.”

When Laufmann bought the Romanov, he really liked what he saw in the buck. He learned that the buck had been part of a USDA research program at an Iowa Research Station in a program designed to develop a new sheep breed. After Laufmann’s purchase he learned that the breed was imported to the United States at approximately 1985. The sheep are mainly used as meat animals. They also produce some wool/fur and can assist with vegetation management. What Laufmann has most appreciated is the breed’s high reproductive rates.

“Last year the first 12 ewes I’ve produced out of him had lambs. Every one of them had twins,” Laufmann says. “This year those same 12 ewes had 30 lambs altogether. Romanovs are very hardy, so I’ve only lost one of those lambs this year. It seems the lambs are really vigorous and this might sound kind of odd but they seem to be smarter than other sheep breeds. They seem to figure things out more easily.”

In addition to high fertility rates, Romanov sheep will mate year round. Purebreds are black when they’re born and turn grey as they mature. They produce a very lean carcass and thick wool that is often used for rugs, mats and wall hangings. One disadvantage of Romanovs is that they don’t have the highest average daily gain records. For that reason, producers like Laufmann generally cross the Romanov with another breed.

“I’m using the Polypay and Romanov cross,” Laufmann says. “Several years ago I did some linebreeding with my Polypays and I was very happy with the results. I improved my genetics quite a bit. I saw more productivity in my lambs and I started seeing black lambs from the Polypays. Crossing those genetics with the Romanov have proven to be dynamite for my breeding program.”

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Because raising sheep is a sideline for Laufmann, he carefully plans lambing so that each spring only part of his ewes lamb every two weeks. He confines ewes ready to give birth so both ewes and lambs have added protection from weather and the rest of the herd. By doing so, he has little difficulty with death loss.

“If you were just starting to raise sheep, Romanovs might not be the best breed,” he says. “I spend a lot of time checking them and making sure the lambs are thriving in those first couple of hours. If you had a large herd out on pasture, you may not have as much success with all the multiple births. If one of my ewes has triplets or quads, I put her and the lambs in a pen by themselves till they’re a couple days old. I think that’s made a big difference in being able to raise all the lambs.”

Since Laufmann switched from hogs to sheep due to sagging pork markets, he’s seen an increasing demand for mutton. Increasing U.S. diversity has led to development of ethnic traditions that include mutton use.

“I sell the lambs when they’re between 40 and 80 pounds,” he says. “The Tripp-Newell sale barn handles them and they go to a feeder who has them till they reach 120 or 130 pounds. We do harvest two of them for our own use every year.”

In Russia, Romanovs have been favored because of their charcoal-colored pelts. Laufmann’s family is tanning one of their pelts because of its unusual markings.

“Usually lambs are charcoal colored and have black on their shoulders,” he says. “With the cross we use, one of our lambs had a black dorsal stripe on its back too. The coat was rather striking so we’re tanning it.”

Because he’s so pleased with his genetics, Laufmann has been retaining ewes the last couple of years. All of this year’s ewe lambs will remain on the farm and he’ll evaluate the young males in regard to their value as breeding stock.

“I brought in a Montadale buck last fall to use on the Romanov/Polypay ewes,” Laufmann says. “That seems to be a real good cross. Montadale’s are known for hardiness and good carcass qualities so this is a way to get the best of both breeds.”

EMERY, SD – Trying “something different” with his sheep has more than doubled Rex Laufmann’s production rate the last three years. The change he made to his 20-year sheep raising plan was simple: he introduced a Romanov buck.

“I just stumbled across this because I couldn’t find a Polypay buck,” Laufmann says. “They were scarce and expensive. I read an ad about crossbred Romanov bucks an Iowa producer was selling. I decided to go look at them and ended up buying his purebred buck. His offspring were pretty impressive. The farmer was at a point where he needed to bring in new blood and I talked him into letting this purebred one go.”

When Laufmann bought the Romanov, he really liked what he saw in the buck. He learned that the buck had been part of a USDA research program at an Iowa Research Station in a program designed to develop a new sheep breed. After Laufmann’s purchase he learned that the breed was imported to the United States at approximately 1985. The sheep are mainly used as meat animals. They also produce some wool/fur and can assist with vegetation management. What Laufmann has most appreciated is the breed’s high reproductive rates.

“Last year the first 12 ewes I’ve produced out of him had lambs. Every one of them had twins,” Laufmann says. “This year those same 12 ewes had 30 lambs altogether. Romanovs are very hardy, so I’ve only lost one of those lambs this year. It seems the lambs are really vigorous and this might sound kind of odd but they seem to be smarter than other sheep breeds. They seem to figure things out more easily.”

In addition to high fertility rates, Romanov sheep will mate year round. Purebreds are black when they’re born and turn grey as they mature. They produce a very lean carcass and thick wool that is often used for rugs, mats and wall hangings. One disadvantage of Romanovs is that they don’t have the highest average daily gain records. For that reason, producers like Laufmann generally cross the Romanov with another breed.

“I’m using the Polypay and Romanov cross,” Laufmann says. “Several years ago I did some linebreeding with my Polypays and I was very happy with the results. I improved my genetics quite a bit. I saw more productivity in my lambs and I started seeing black lambs from the Polypays. Crossing those genetics with the Romanov have proven to be dynamite for my breeding program.”

Because raising sheep is a sideline for Laufmann, he carefully plans lambing so that each spring only part of his ewes lamb every two weeks. He confines ewes ready to give birth so both ewes and lambs have added protection from weather and the rest of the herd. By doing so, he has little difficulty with death loss.

“If you were just starting to raise sheep, Romanovs might not be the best breed,” he says. “I spend a lot of time checking them and making sure the lambs are thriving in those first couple of hours. If you had a large herd out on pasture, you may not have as much success with all the multiple births. If one of my ewes has triplets or quads, I put her and the lambs in a pen by themselves till they’re a couple days old. I think that’s made a big difference in being able to raise all the lambs.”

Since Laufmann switched from hogs to sheep due to sagging pork markets, he’s seen an increasing demand for mutton. Increasing U.S. diversity has led to development of ethnic traditions that include mutton use.

“I sell the lambs when they’re between 40 and 80 pounds,” he says. “The Tripp-Newell sale barn handles them and they go to a feeder who has them till they reach 120 or 130 pounds. We do harvest two of them for our own use every year.”

In Russia, Romanovs have been favored because of their charcoal-colored pelts. Laufmann’s family is tanning one of their pelts because of its unusual markings.

“Usually lambs are charcoal colored and have black on their shoulders,” he says. “With the cross we use, one of our lambs had a black dorsal stripe on its back too. The coat was rather striking so we’re tanning it.”

Because he’s so pleased with his genetics, Laufmann has been retaining ewes the last couple of years. All of this year’s ewe lambs will remain on the farm and he’ll evaluate the young males in regard to their value as breeding stock.

“I brought in a Montadale buck last fall to use on the Romanov/Polypay ewes,” Laufmann says. “That seems to be a real good cross. Montadale’s are known for hardiness and good carcass qualities so this is a way to get the best of both breeds.”

EMERY, SD – Trying “something different” with his sheep has more than doubled Rex Laufmann’s production rate the last three years. The change he made to his 20-year sheep raising plan was simple: he introduced a Romanov buck.

“I just stumbled across this because I couldn’t find a Polypay buck,” Laufmann says. “They were scarce and expensive. I read an ad about crossbred Romanov bucks an Iowa producer was selling. I decided to go look at them and ended up buying his purebred buck. His offspring were pretty impressive. The farmer was at a point where he needed to bring in new blood and I talked him into letting this purebred one go.”

When Laufmann bought the Romanov, he really liked what he saw in the buck. He learned that the buck had been part of a USDA research program at an Iowa Research Station in a program designed to develop a new sheep breed. After Laufmann’s purchase he learned that the breed was imported to the United States at approximately 1985. The sheep are mainly used as meat animals. They also produce some wool/fur and can assist with vegetation management. What Laufmann has most appreciated is the breed’s high reproductive rates.

“Last year the first 12 ewes I’ve produced out of him had lambs. Every one of them had twins,” Laufmann says. “This year those same 12 ewes had 30 lambs altogether. Romanovs are very hardy, so I’ve only lost one of those lambs this year. It seems the lambs are really vigorous and this might sound kind of odd but they seem to be smarter than other sheep breeds. They seem to figure things out more easily.”

In addition to high fertility rates, Romanov sheep will mate year round. Purebreds are black when they’re born and turn grey as they mature. They produce a very lean carcass and thick wool that is often used for rugs, mats and wall hangings. One disadvantage of Romanovs is that they don’t have the highest average daily gain records. For that reason, producers like Laufmann generally cross the Romanov with another breed.

“I’m using the Polypay and Romanov cross,” Laufmann says. “Several years ago I did some linebreeding with my Polypays and I was very happy with the results. I improved my genetics quite a bit. I saw more productivity in my lambs and I started seeing black lambs from the Polypays. Crossing those genetics with the Romanov have proven to be dynamite for my breeding program.”

Because raising sheep is a sideline for Laufmann, he carefully plans lambing so that each spring only part of his ewes lamb every two weeks. He confines ewes ready to give birth so both ewes and lambs have added protection from weather and the rest of the herd. By doing so, he has little difficulty with death loss.

“If you were just starting to raise sheep, Romanovs might not be the best breed,” he says. “I spend a lot of time checking them and making sure the lambs are thriving in those first couple of hours. If you had a large herd out on pasture, you may not have as much success with all the multiple births. If one of my ewes has triplets or quads, I put her and the lambs in a pen by themselves till they’re a couple days old. I think that’s made a big difference in being able to raise all the lambs.”

Since Laufmann switched from hogs to sheep due to sagging pork markets, he’s seen an increasing demand for mutton. Increasing U.S. diversity has led to development of ethnic traditions that include mutton use.

“I sell the lambs when they’re between 40 and 80 pounds,” he says. “The Tripp-Newell sale barn handles them and they go to a feeder who has them till they reach 120 or 130 pounds. We do harvest two of them for our own use every year.”

In Russia, Romanovs have been favored because of their charcoal-colored pelts. Laufmann’s family is tanning one of their pelts because of its unusual markings.

“Usually lambs are charcoal colored and have black on their shoulders,” he says. “With the cross we use, one of our lambs had a black dorsal stripe on its back too. The coat was rather striking so we’re tanning it.”

Because he’s so pleased with his genetics, Laufmann has been retaining ewes the last couple of years. All of this year’s ewe lambs will remain on the farm and he’ll evaluate the young males in regard to their value as breeding stock.

“I brought in a Montadale buck last fall to use on the Romanov/Polypay ewes,” Laufmann says. “That seems to be a real good cross. Montadale’s are known for hardiness and good carcass qualities so this is a way to get the best of both breeds.”