Spooner dairy sheep flock dispersed at auction

Wisconsin State Farmer
The dairy sheep flock heads up to the barn for milking time at the Spooner Ag Research Station.


Eighty years of sheep research and outreach came to an end with the dispersal of the dairy sheep flock at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) on October 13, 2016.

Strong buyer competition for the sheep indicated that the dairy sheep developed by the UW-Madison program are in demand by sheep dairies across the country. The successful online auction was conducted by Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association of Baraboo, Wis., allowing more than 70 potential buyers to participate from throughout the U.S. A total of 338 sheep were sold in 62 lots with a sale average of $517/head.

Buyers paid close attention to the available estimated breeding value for milk yield indexes for most of the sheep and that, in turn, helped boost auction bidding.

Eight select ram lambs averaged $1,522, and the high-selling ram lamb went to Tom Clark, Old Chatham, N.Y., for $2,540. The two flock rams were purchased by Daniel Borntreger of Bethany, Mo., and averaged $1,350 with the high-selling ram of the pair bringing $1,460.

Buyers were interested in the production records and the estimated breeding values of the 2- to 7-year-old producing ewes in the sale, and the 183 mature ewes averaged $495/head.

Milking time at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station. The flock was officially dispersed during the Oct. 13 auction.

The high-selling ewe lot was a pair of high-production full sisters that had produced some outstanding ewes and rams in the flock. They sold for $820/head to Jonathan Lightner, Jefferson, WI. Other top selling production ewes were a lot of eight ewes to Lewis Fox, Genoa, NY, for $680/head; a lot of 11 ewes to Suzanne Sankow, Lyme, CT, for $640/head; and a lot of 10 ewes to Tom Clark, Old Chatham, NY, for $610/head. The production ewes sold exposed to rams.

The 145 ewe lambs sold open and followed closely in price to the production ewes averaging $478/head. The highest estimated breeding-value ewe lambs sold as individuals, and the top prices were from John Wentz, Portage, WI. (two ewe lambs at $720 and $580); Tom Clark, Old Chatham, NY ($680); Barbara Stinson, Lodi, WI. ($600); and Carolyn Olson, Friendship, WI. ($560). The top prices paid for groups of ewe lambs were a lot of 9 head at $590/head and a lot of 10 head at $570/head, both to Tom Clark, Old Chatham, NY.

After 80 years, Spooner ARS winded down its operation by dispersing its dairy sheep flock during an auction on Oct. 13.

Volume buyers were Lewis Fox, Genoa, NY, with 91 head; Tom Clark, Old Chatham, NY, with 63 head; Denise Leffel, Greensburg, IN, with 45 head; Suzanne Sankow, Lyme, CT, with 32 head; Marianna Marques de Almeida, Monroe, WI, with 28 head; and Tom Robus, Marshfield, WI, with 22 head. Sheep sold into the 10 states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin; 257 head (76 percent) went to out-of-state buyers, and 81 head (24 percent) stayed in Wisconsin.