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Lamb production field day set

By Staff | May 30, 2015

WILLIAMS – A Practical Farmers of Iowa “Lamb Production and Wholesale Marketing” field day is set from 3-8 p.m. June 7 at the Three Sisters Farm, 2990 260th Ave., 6.5 miles south of Williams.

Farmers and the public will learn more about sheep production, marketing strategies and diversified farm practices from Dial Ortrude, Three Sisters Farms owner and Mark Tjernagel, an Iowa-based lamb buyer for Superior Farms.

Ortrude will discuss her future plans to seek non-GMO certification and expand her lamb marketing beyond wholesale to include new markets.

Tjernagel will speak on lamb supply and demand for national markets. Guests will also learn about organic and non-GMO row crop production, small grains and extended rotations, pasture management, and on-farm conservation practices.

Sheep and row crops are both central elements of Three Sisters Farm. The 700-acre farm was started in 2003 with 25 Polypay ewes, and now raises 500 Polypay lambs a year that are sold wholesale to Superior Farms, a national distributor of American lamb. Ortrude has grown her flock by retaining 75 to 100 replacement and expansion ewe lambs each year.

“Wholesale marketing is basically selling live animals, and it’s the easiest way to market sheep if you like raising animals but not marketing,” Ortrude said. “But I’m now starting to look for other ways to retail them, like certifying non-GMO and selling to places like Whole Foods Market.”

In addition to expanding her marketing strategy, Ortrude says she’s also planning to start adding other sheep breeds to her flock. Polypay sheep comprise the bulk of her flock, but she now also has a small flock of Coopworth sheep, a New Zealand breed she describes as “a hardy, dual-purpose breed with beautiful wool that does well on grass.”

“I really like them, but they’re slower growing,” she said. “That’s one reason I keep Polypays: I’ve been trying to build my herd, and they’re very prolific with really good maternal instincts.”

There is no cost to attend the event. A potluck dinner including pork donated by Trubridge Foods and lamb burgers from Three Sisters Farm will be served at the end of the event. Guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share.

A barn dance led by David and Mary Losure of Flying Pig Fiddle and Banjo will entertain guests.

The field day is sponsored by Superior Farms.

Directions: From I-35, take Exit 139, then take County Road D41 west for one-half mile and turn right on Underwood Road (the first gravel road on the right). Travel north for 1 mile, then turn left on 260th Avenue. Proceed past two hills; the farm is the first driveway on the left.

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