Producer profile: Blackie Farm, Florenceville, NB

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD; Photos by James Blackie Blackie Farm is located in the village of Florenceville in western New Brunswick, which is less than 15 km from the US border. This area is known for growing potatoes, and the village is home to the corporate...

Producer Profile: Willowdale Sheep & Lamb, Steinbach, MB

By Randy Eros It was a cool, cloudy January afternoon when I pulled into the parking area at Willowdale Sheep & Lamb, 10 minutes south of Steinbach, Manitoba. The farm sits on a ¼-section (160 acres) that is part of a larger operation owned by Apex Farms. Harry...

Managing waste in round-bale feeding systems

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD Sheep farmers who feed round bales are familiar with their convenience and also with the resulting high feed waste, even when round-bale feeders are used. Many unique designs of round-bale feeders have been developed and some claim to reduce or...

Producer profile: Woolley’s Lamb, Simcoe, Ontario

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD Schuyler Farms Limited, located near Simcoe, Ontario, consists of 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans, 700 acres of apples, 550 acres of sour (pie) cherries, and 400 acres of pasture and woodlot. The farm is run by brothers Brett and Ryan Schuyler,...

Feed for Profit: Mineral Supplementation

by Dale Engstrom, M.Sc., P.Ag I am often asked about using free-choice loose and block minerals. Are they needed? Do they do a good job of providing essential nutrients to sheep? Are they cost effective? Let’s start by reviewing what minerals are. Minerals fit into...

Drover’s Way Farm, Perth, Ontario

Story by Cathy Gallivan, PhD, Photos by Allison Taylor, PhD Oliver and Sarah Loten have been raising sheep for 20 years and, like most sheep farmers, have made a lot of changes to their flock and their management in that time. They started on a hobby farm near...

Producer Profile: Millferns Holsteins, Lower Onslow, NS

Story & photos by Cathy Gallivan, PhD I met with Fred and Anne Hamilton on a sunny day in early July, on the farm that has been in Fred’s family since the expulsion of the Acadians in 1760. The original land grant was 1,000 acres. By 1802, the family had eight...

Producer Profile: Red Willow Colony, Stettler, AB

Story by Peggy Johnson, Photos by Tracy Hagedorn After months of winter gloom, it was wonderful to drive across central Alberta on a sunny morning and experience the magic of spring: soft green of new leaves emerging from tree buds, the hint of grass in the roadside...

Producer Profile: Catto Sheep Farm, Lipton, SK

Story & photos by Stuart Chutter Martin and Louise Catto farmed in Scotland prior to moving to Canada almost 15 years ago. Although their principal enterprise was dairy farming, they would purchase 500 ewes each year in the fall, lamb them out in the spring and...

Producer Profile: Bouw Farms, Dugald, Manitoba

Story & photos by Cathy Gallivan, PhD On a cold, grey, October day, I met with Stefan Bouw on his family’s farm about 20 miles east of Winnipeg. I visited Stefan to talk about their recently established sheep flock but, as is often the case, discovered that the...

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Producer profile: Blackie Farm, Florenceville, NB

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD; Photos by James Blackie Blackie Farm is located in the village of Florenceville in western New Brunswick, which is less than 15 km from the US border. This area is known for growing potatoes, and the village is home to the corporate...

Producer Profile: Willowdale Sheep & Lamb, Steinbach, MB

By Randy Eros It was a cool, cloudy January afternoon when I pulled into the parking area at Willowdale Sheep & Lamb, 10 minutes south of Steinbach, Manitoba. The farm sits on a ¼-section (160 acres) that is part of a larger operation owned by Apex Farms. Harry...

Managing waste in round-bale feeding systems

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD Sheep farmers who feed round bales are familiar with their convenience and also with the resulting high feed waste, even when round-bale feeders are used. Many unique designs of round-bale feeders have been developed and some claim to reduce or...

Producer profile: Woolley’s Lamb, Simcoe, Ontario

By Cathy Gallivan, PhD Schuyler Farms Limited, located near Simcoe, Ontario, consists of 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans, 700 acres of apples, 550 acres of sour (pie) cherries, and 400 acres of pasture and woodlot. The farm is run by brothers Brett and Ryan Schuyler,...

Feed for Profit: Mineral Supplementation

by Dale Engstrom, M.Sc., P.Ag I am often asked about using free-choice loose and block minerals. Are they needed? Do they do a good job of providing essential nutrients to sheep? Are they cost effective? Let’s start by reviewing what minerals are. Minerals fit into...

Drover’s Way Farm, Perth, Ontario

Story by Cathy Gallivan, PhD, Photos by Allison Taylor, PhD Oliver and Sarah Loten have been raising sheep for 20 years and, like most sheep farmers, have made a lot of changes to their flock and their management in that time. They started on a hobby farm near...

Producer Profile: Millferns Holsteins, Lower Onslow, NS

Story & photos by Cathy Gallivan, PhD I met with Fred and Anne Hamilton on a sunny day in early July, on the farm that has been in Fred’s family since the expulsion of the Acadians in 1760. The original land grant was 1,000 acres. By 1802, the family had eight...

Producer Profile: Red Willow Colony, Stettler, AB

Story by Peggy Johnson, Photos by Tracy Hagedorn After months of winter gloom, it was wonderful to drive across central Alberta on a sunny morning and experience the magic of spring: soft green of new leaves emerging from tree buds, the hint of grass in the roadside...

Producer Profile: Catto Sheep Farm, Lipton, SK

Story & photos by Stuart Chutter Martin and Louise Catto farmed in Scotland prior to moving to Canada almost 15 years ago. Although their principal enterprise was dairy farming, they would purchase 500 ewes each year in the fall, lamb them out in the spring and...

Producer Profile: Bouw Farms, Dugald, Manitoba

Story & photos by Cathy Gallivan, PhD On a cold, grey, October day, I met with Stefan Bouw on his family’s farm about 20 miles east of Winnipeg. I visited Stefan to talk about their recently established sheep flock but, as is often the case, discovered that the...

Sheep Canada – Fall 2010

Sheep Canada - Fall 2010 Table of Contents
4: Greetings from Deerville
5: Island sheep tour
9: Geneticists emphasize maternal sheep breeds
12: Boundary issues
13: Postcards from New Zealand
16: Baxter Black
17: Ontario Suffolk Sheep Association 4th Terminal Sire Sale
18: Subscription & Buyer’s Guide forms
19: Buyer’s Guide
22: FCC to fund farm safety
23: Your questions on mandatory ID
26: RFID benefits UK shepherds
28: Great expectations – getting real about EID
29: Replacement tags for purebred registrations now available
30: Natural remedies for sheep: apple cider vinegar
31: Scrapie Canada’s new project
32: Changes to import protocol for female sheep and goats
33: Producer profile: Thistlestone Farm, Acton, Ontario

Island Sheep Tour

Story & photos by Jonathan Wort

The earliest record of sheep in Canada is found in the records of De Mont’s voyage to Acadia (Nova Scotia) in 1604; Champlain established Port Royal the following year. It appears that the Acadians raised sheep from the early days of their presence here. The tradition continues to this day with several Acadian families, such as the d’Eons, d’Entremonts and Boudreaus who have kept sheep for many many generations on islands off the coast of Nova Scotia.

James Vallis seems to know what he’s doing with this lobster, served on the Saturday night of the island sheep tour.

James Vallis seems to know what he’s doing with this lobster, served on the Saturday night of the island sheep tour.

The sheep graze year-round on these islands, feeding on grass in the summer and seaweed in the winter months. It is thought that the early European fishermen who came here to fish for the summer brought sheep with them on their boats and pastured them on the islands, beginning the tradition of raising sheep in this manner.

On the weekend of June 19th, the Purebred Sheep Breeders’ Association of Nova Scotia was hosted by Mary Morse, Leroy d’Entremont and their family for a weekend island sheep tour. The event started with supper on Saturday evening at Le Village historique acadien in Pubnico. The meal featured lobster caught by Leroy. Supper was followed by an informal gathering of sheep producers and local residents, with music provided by several local musicians.

Sunday morning everyone met at a wharf on Shelburne Harbour for the half hour boat ride to McNutt’s Island in the mouth of the harbour. Shelburne Harbour is the third-largest natural harbour in the world.

The island sheep are North Country Cheviot and Scottish Blackfaces.

The island sheep are North Country Cheviot and Scottish Blackfaces.

While on the island, the sheep breeders were treated to coffee breaks and moussaka, prepared with local mutton, for lunch. Ann Yarborough and Greg Brown, the island’s only remaining full-time residents, prepared the treats in their wonderful restored 150-year-old fisherman’s house. Ann and Greg bought the property in 2007, and have become an important part of the island. You can find out more about them from Ann’s blog, Nova Scotia Island Journal or Greg’s book of the same name.

Greg welcomed everyone to their island home by saying that they were very happy with the lawn maintenance crew (sheep) who had been mowing (eating) the grass, and fertilizing it for generations. The only compromise that they have had to make is to maintain the fences around their flower and vegetable gardens.

The first stop on the tour was the sheep pens where Leroy does all his sheep handling, shearing, and sorting. From there we made our way, by various unique modes of transport, to the other side of the 2,000-acre island to the lighthouse where we hoped to see the sheep.

The sheep graze on grass in the summer and seaweed in the winter.

The sheep graze on grass in the summer and seaweed in the winter.

Leroy told us that McNutt Island currently supports a flock of about 90 crossbred North County Cheviot and Scottish Blackface ewes. He breeds these ewes to either a North Country Cheviot or Scottish Blackface ram, in order to retain a crossbred flock. On other islands, such as Blue Island, he has a purebred Scottish Blackface flock. He finds that by maintaining crossbred and purebred flocks on different islands he can breed sheep that are suited to the environmental conditions on the various islands and produce marketable lambs.

One of Leroy’s Border Collies hitches a ride to the island.

One of Leroy’s Border Collies hitches a ride to the island.

The islands vary considerably in size and geography. Some are forested and others are not much more than rock outcrops in the ocean. A critical factor that determines the islands’ suitability for sheep is the amount of seaweed that washes up on the shore in the fall and winter storms. Without this, the sheep would not have enough winter feed.

On McNutt Island the sheep graze the open land along the shore and around the houses or areas where people lived in the past. The interior of the island is thick hardwood and softwood forest. Leroy relies on Border Collies to work his sheep; without them it would be impossible to gather the sheep and work with them.

The sheep have become an important part of the ecology of the island that they graze. Several islands have lost their sheep flocks. When this happens, within a couple of years the islands grow up in an impenetrable web of bushes and raspberries, changing the landscape dramatically. Once this happens even the bird population changes, with shore birds no longer nesting on the islands.

One of the ‘various, unique forms of transportation’ used on the island sheep tour.

One of the ‘various, unique forms of transportation’ used on the island sheep tour.

Island sheep flocks used to exist all along the shore of Nova Scotia. But the only flocks that continue to this day are in the southwestern region where fishermen like Leroy continue the tradition of inshore fishing  and raising sheep, started by their ancestors in the early 1600’s. Leroy and his fellow island sheep farmers are very proud of this tradition and plan to continue it for many generations to come.

Jonathan Wort works for Agrapoint in Truro, Nova Scotia. He and the rest of the tour group would like to thank Leroy and Mary and their family, and Ann and Greg for sharing their world with the Purebred Sheep Breeders Association of Nova Scotia.