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Tour set to visit sheep farms

By Staff | Jun 19, 2009

Hoop buildings work well for sheep on the Hofland farm.

HARTLEY – A tour of four sheep operations within driving distance of this northwest O’Brien County community, is set for June 27 and is designed for those either currently raising sheep, thinking of getting into the sheep business, or wondering if their buildings will work for raising sheep.

Julie Hofland and her husband Dave Hofland have a 550-head commercial Polypay breeding ewes operation. Included in that number are their son Daniel Hofland’s purebred Polypays and a few Suffolks.

Dave and Julie Hofland have been raising sheep their entire married life, or 22 years. Dave Hofland has been involved with sheep since a young boy.

Their operation utilizes the farm’s existing structures, plus three hoop buildings that provide housing for sheep and a feed facility. The hoop buildings have been in use for six years, said Dave Hofland, working well in their operation.

By consistently excelling with good production, marketing a 200 percent lamb crop or better, the Hoflands were awarded the Outstanding Producer Award in 2008. Their style of farming is an admirable one. They work together as a family in all aspects of their farm life – lambing, chores and promoting lamb.

Derek Hofland, 16, helps with chores on the family's farm near Sanborn.

Active in advancing the sheep industry, Dave Hofland serves as chairman of the Sheep and Wool Promotion Board. Julie Hofland is treasurer of the active Northwest Iowa Sheep Association and in charge of the wool products the organization sells.

In the past she has served as their president.

Always willing to help others in the sheep industry, their farm is one of four that will be featured on the tour, beginning at 9:45 a.m. at the Community Center in Sanborn.

Two sheep operations will be toured in the morning, followed by lunch at the Community Center. The remaining two operations will be toured in the afternoon.

Designed to show both large and small operations, the tour features sheep producers’ farms that range from 74 to 550 ewes. Participants will get to see first hand different styles of raising sheep, from almost all dry lot to mostly all pasture; from older buildings to new hoop structures; and from primarily commercial ewe lamb marketing to all market lamb sales.

Ewes enjoy summer by rotationally grazing through a series of paddocks.

A total of 11 different sheep breeds will be seen. The farm locations will be near Sanborn, Hartley, Sibley and Ocheyedan.

Experts to speak and answer questions on the tour are Dr. Dan Morrical, ISU Extension sheep specialist, Dr. Kris Kohl, ISU Extension ag engineer and Dennis DeWitt, ISU Extension livestock specialist.

Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at “mailto:renaefarmnews@gmail.com”>renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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