Breeding groups are put to the ram during three 35day mating seasons: September-October, January-February, and May- June. Higher market prices during the October to Easter period are a strong incentive to minimize the traditional spring lambing. About 65% of matings are to Texel rams, with all crossbred lambs sold to slaughter. The choice of Texel rams as the cross-breeding sire was, again, based on research data showing Texels to have the highest dressing percentage and percentage carcass lean. This is due in part to the presence of the Myostatin gene.
The Texel-Romanov cross produces lambs with good growth and carcass characteristics, which are proving very popular with our market lamb customers.
Due to the challenging environment of southern Kentucky summers, where heat and humidity provide a rich breeding ground for parasites, weaned lambs are finished in a feedlot on hay and a custom mix Grower ration. We periodically monitor the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of feedlot groups. The FCR and growth rates measured both indicate that the feed-lot is the way to go in this environment.
Maiden ewes are mated for the first time when they are around 7 months of age and over 80 lbs. live-weight. The ewes are run on pasture year-round and are only brought into the barn at night when they have lambs at-foot. Fortunately, persistent snow cover is a rarity here.
Some Romanov ewes naturally shed their fleeces, but all ewes are shorn in May. All lambs are vaccinated twice prior to weaning, with CD&T vaccine, and the ewes are vaccinated three weeks prior to lambing. Lambs are dosed before going into the feed-lot. Ewes are dosed prior to lambing and mating and individuals are spot dosed based on FAMACHA assessments as needed. Flocks are rotated around 11 pastures.