We are Romy and Ryan and our three little helpers. We're the 4th and 5th generations in the family to work on this farm in Wellington County. In 2018 we will have been farming here for 12 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. After many years of work and planning we are finally both able to farm full-time. Romy grew up on a dairy farm then completed a degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Guelph. Ryan 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. Going to 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.
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.
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, 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 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. The Dorset breed is also key in this as they are able to have lambs year-round. When a lamb is born it gets an radio frequency 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.
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. 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. Using the newest crop technology and seeds we can grow healthy feed for our sheep. Soil testing and targeted nutrient application helps us grow strong crops. Rotation of crops and no-till equipment supports soil microbe growth and efficient nutrient uptake.
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.