Published Sep 30, 2011

Sheep Ranching at Dalla Terra Ranch

By Kevin Dietzel

A group of 35 sheep, prairie, and grazing enthusiasts gathered at Dalla Terra Ranch near Earlham, Iowa on September 15th. Participants heard about the challenges of converting a former horse farm to an organic sheep ranch, including changes that needed to be made to fences and helping the grass to recover from the close grazing of the horses. Part of what Sharon Krause, the farmer, is doing to improve the quality of her pastures is applying foliar fertilizers to overcome nutrient deficiencies for better grass growth and more nutritionally-balanced forage for the sheep. She has made these additions based on the recommendations of consultant Doug Gunnink.

Sharon also showed her corral and sorting chute that was designed by Temple Grandin last year. This facility works great with only one or two people needed to handle large numbers of sheep easily and with little stress to the animals. It was designed and positioned in such a way as to work with the natural way that the animals want to move,  so that they do not need to be forced to go where the humans want to go. Gates can easily be opened or closed to move the sheep into different areas for sorting or handling.

Sharon also told us about her challenges with a neighbor’s dog who had gotten into her pasture several times (including the morning of the field day) and seriously injured quite a few of her sheep (mostly lambs).  She has also had challenges keeping her own guard dog (shown above) from running away. He seems to especially want to run during thunder storms…