Grass-fed/Pastured Lamb Tips for Success

Want to add grass-fed/pastured lamb to your repertoire? Here are some tips to succeed, especially if you’re farming in a hot, humid climate. My husband and I have been raising sheep since August 2011. We’re still new to this whole farming/ranching venture, but we’ve learned a good deal since we started. What follows was born out of a text message conversation I had with a fellow young farmer and prospective grassfed lamb producer in Louisiana. After spending some summers raising sheep in a fairly “sheephostile” environment, we have compiled some considerations for grass-fed and pastured lamb producers located in the Gulf South and in other hot, humid environments. Parasites are your biggest enemy. Grass-fed/pastured lambs can take 10-14 months to finish in our environment. That means you have to hold them through those harsh summer months when parasite pressure is high. Combat the worms with the following strategies: 1) Don’t buy resistant worms! When you’re pulling away from the seller, and he calls to tell you to “make sure and deworm those ewes every four to six weeks,” turn around and drop those ewes back off at their birthplace. You don’t want breeding stock or feeder lambs from flocks that have been blanket wormed for years. They’ll fall apart in your forage-based system, and you’ll drop a nice, big population of anthelmintic-resistant parasite e

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5 thoughts on “Grass-fed/Pastured Lamb Tips for Success

  1. I am curious why it takes so long to finish lambs on grass? I’m just north of you in TN and have raised (mostly) hair sheep for about 10 years. I finish them at 80-90 lbs in 6-7 months. What weights are you getting in that 10-14 month time frame?

    1. Same weights as you, but we cannot grow the same forages I would think. And/or, perhaps, we don’t have the same genetics (?)–from talking to other producers, our stock seems to compensate parasite resistance for size. We do not always get a hard freeze every winter; this winter we had barely any freezing temps. What is your forage chain like?

      1. We have mostly fescue pastures. I’m working to change that. Grazing starts in March and runs into December. This year, we continued to rotate through the winter, feeding mostly orchard grass hay. There was enough residual and growth until February to supplement the hay. I did, intentionally, allow the sheep (and dairy cows, we graze both together) to eat the pastures down to 2 inches to knock back the fescue this winter. Low temps here were in the teens but generally winter was warm. My flock is also parasite resistant. We only get good, cool season grasses until mid May. Then it is fescue and whatever summer grasses come in. Thank you for responding, btw!

  2. G’day, An interesting item and sound advice,however I would add the following.Select a “breed” that evolved in an environment similar to yours and “before” you buy any stock try and have a chat to your potential customers to get a feeling for what “their” needs are.Frank.

    1. Hi Frank. Yes, these are two very important points. I guess I overlooked the breed issue as the majority of shepherds in the Deep South are now raising hair breeds that are adapted to our hot, humid climate.

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