Heritage Suffolk Selection ProcessGrass-fed Genetics
Lambing percentage is the simplest measure of success when evaluating ewe performance. We have always bred our ewe lambs because evaluation of their potential as brood ewes can be made when they are one year old instead of two. Our ewes are expected to have the genetic capacity to raise twins & triplets without special attention. Our lambing percentage is consistently over 200% as a result of this selection process.
Another very important aspect in ewe selection is longevity. Ewes that are dropping out of production at 4-5 years of age instead of 9-10 years dramatically reduce profitability. All of our ewes have an infusion of longevity from our ram Chinook who lived to 9 years of age. His mother lived to be 13.
Combining lambing percentage and longevity results in the most lambs per ewe in a lifetime and therefore maximum profit. Simple math indicates that a Whisper ewe has the potential to be at least twice as profitable over her lifetime compared to a typical “modern” Suffolk ewe. Too many Suffolk breeders have lost sight of this fact and are only interested in winning shows.
Most of our brood ewes are in the 300-350# range. Since their diet is managed to maximize cost efficiency, they put out pounds of lambs on a least cost basis. Whisper brood ewes have the size and capacity to work in the barn and the show ring. Purchasers of Whisper ewes acquire a “pounds of lamb producing machine” that also has the style and functionality that Suffolks were once known for.
Selecting for a size that can result in fast growing & fast finishing lambs is paramount. Our market lambs finish at 150-190 #’s at 4-5 months of age in a grass fed environment. This culminates in a larger & earlier finishing lamb compared to the typical production lamb that weighs 105-120#’s at 6-8 months of age.