Farm Horizons, Aug. 2016

Lambs add to flock south of Lester Prairie


Two pet sheep.

That’s how the herd of 21 puffy white ewes and 31 frolicking lambs began at the Michaletz farm southwest of Lester Prairie two years ago.

“My mom [Cathy] wanted two as pets,” Emily Michaletz explained. “Then we decided to get a few more, so I got my herd of 10.”

Not wanting to be left out, Emily’s dad, Larry, added eight more sheep to the mix.

The first lambs were born in spring 2015, a cross between the suffolk and dorper breeds. This year’s lambs are a mix of suffolk and southdown.

“We’ve had a lot of twins this year,” Emily said, adding that they also had triplets, but sadly they didn’t survive.

Although there are quite a few sheep now, some are still considered pets. One of the mothers, for example, named Tiny, is a favorite of Emily’s.

“She was the first one to come up to me,” Emily recalled. “She has her own personality – very friendly.”

“We call one of them Elvis, because of its hair,” added Emily’s 14-year-old son, Austin.

For Austin’s birthday, the family got a donkey named Billy to help keep coyotes away.

“He’s the protector,” Austin said.

The donkey has the freedom to roam in the barn and around the pasture with the sheep, and they get along well – although he did try to chase some of the new lambs at first.

Taking care of lambs is the most challenging part of having sheep, according to Emily.

“They’re so fragile,” she said, explaining that some of them died due to the cold two winters ago, even though they had shelter and heat lamps.

Newborn lambs are tiny, too, and can slip underneath the fence. Luckily, Austin is good at corralling them.

Other than lambing, taking care of sheep is fairly straightforward, according to Emily.

“We have a water trough that’s hooked up to the well, and we feed them once a day,” she said, adding that they graze in the pasture all summer.

In the spring/summer, a person comes to the farm to shear the sheep and purchase the wool. Austin said they initially tried shearing the sheep themselves, but later opted to hire a professional.

“They make it look so easy, but it’s difficult,” he said.

In addition to selling wool, the Michaletz family also sells the male sheep for meat. Females are kept for breeding.

Emily said she’s looking forward to growing the herd, and is considering adding a few more animals to the farm, too.

“Next year, we’re thinking of getting a pig and a cow,” she said.

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