Truly local, homegrown sheep and lamb products. To support sustainable resource use and soil to soil fibre systems, we use our local resources, knowledge and all of the products our sheep produce. The main pillar of the farm is the soil. Nourishing and managing this valuable resource is key to support the rest of the farm through productive crops and healthy animals. A huge commitment to maintaining the health of our animals and the environment gives them the best opportunity to be productive creatures.
We are Romy and Ryan Schil and our three little helpers. We're the 4th and 5th generations in the family to work on this farm in Wellington County ... about 20-30 minutes from Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo. In 2018 we will have been farming here for 10 years! We spend lots of time caring for the animals and land, but we get to play too. The farm is a great place to grow up and learn. Romy grew up on a dairy farm then completed a degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Guelph. After working in animal nutrition for a number of years Romy now enjoys being home full-time with the kids and farming. Ryan works full-time off farm at a local crop supply company. He grew up on a mixed farm and went to school for an Agricultural Certificate at Vermilion College. This education and variety of knowledge as helped in growing and managing the sheep farm. On going industry events and learning is also key to improving our operation. We also want the general public to know about what we do. With so few people having direct connections to farms and where their food comes from it's important to us to share our story.
Animal Care and Nutrition
We grow most of the feed that animals eat. The feed is tested and rations are balanced based on the stage of production a sheep is in for optimal health and production. Crops we grow include; hay and grass forages, corn, wheat and barley. Additional ingredients like protein and vitamins and minerals are purchased locally. A total mixed ration (TMR) is fed to the sheep to ensure an ideal bite each time. By using stored feeds year-round (instead of pasture) we ensure a consistent healthy diet every day. Lambs raised for meat are grain finished with corn or barley with a protein and mineral pellet. We use hormones & antibiotics on our farm in a responsible and respectable manner in consultation with a vet and an animal nutritionist. Antibiotics are used if a sheep gets sick and needs treatment. We also use some feed additives (kind of like probiotics in your yogurt) to help ensure stomach health of the sheep. Lambs are born year-round on our farm to spread out work load and help with a steady income. With consistent stored feed year-round we are able provide the sheep with what they need for all their production stages. The Dorset breed is also key in this as they are able to have babies year-round. Some breed need shorter fall days to signal estrus.
Land and Environment
We manage our land in an environmentally sustainable way by using, no-till, minimum till, crop rotations, manure and fertilizer. Healthy soils = quality crops = quality feeds = healthy sheep. Soil testing and working with industry experts helps us manage crops and inputs. Fertilizer and any pesticides are applied only when needed and in responsible manner. It is important to give the soil and specific crop what it needs to achieve a balance and yield. We want to improve the soil and grow a profitable crop to feed the sheep.
Our animals are housed indoors and in a dry-lot type yard with a shelter. This helps us manage our sheep in a number of ways. Good ventilation and lighting in our barns makes them very comfortable ... warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The sheep always have access to fresh clean water. Keeping the sheep indoors helps protect them for predators like coyotes. We can also greatly limit exposure to intestinal parasites from pasture which can make them sick.
When a lamb is born it gets an ear tag which is then scanned into a computer program. Each time this animal is handled or treated (weights, breeding, health event) we can enter the information. We are then able to monitor weight gains and productivity. We can even determine which ram to put with which ewe based on each animals history and pedigree. Using the newest crop technology and seeds we can grow healthy feed for our sheep. Using the latest modern agricultural technologies and science we can create a strong farm system for our future generations.