TABOR, S.D. — A Hutterite colony in South Dakota has been awarded for its progressive style of sheep production.

The South Dakota Master Lamb Producers Association recently named the Bon Homme Colony top lamb-to-finish producer for the state in 2017. The colony was recognized for exceptional production and management practices in the lamb-to-finish category, the Yankton Press & Dakotan reported .

The colony near Tabor has embraced modern methods for its sheep production despite being the oldest colony in the state. Hutterites are a religious group that grew out of the Reformation similar to Mennonites.

“Only a couple of colonies (in the state) have sheep, and they’re generally the oldest colonies,” said Jeff Held, Extension sheep specialist and executive secretary for the association. “Bon Homme Colony is the oldest colony. The next oldest is the Spink Colony, and they won the award about 15 years ago.”

The colony operation consists of 1,000 ewes and maintains high quality standards, according to Held. The finished lambs are sold under packer contract, which includes financial incentives.

“The colony sells 1,200 finished lambs a year and meets the packer specifications for high quality lambs at a high rate,” he said. “They have a very productive flock of sheep with a low loss of weight. The market growth performance for their lamb crop is exceptional.”

Held also said the colony utilizes electronic record-keeping and data analysis. During the last three years, the colony has adopted the Electronic Identification Device system. The system operates as an ear tag that stores data and contains coded information about the ewe. The tag acts as permanent identification.

“As an animal comes up the sorting chute, they can retrieve information about the ewe by pointing a hand-held computer at the ear tag,” Held said. “The tag is read, and it automatically downloads information.”

Held said the colony’s award helps shed light on the sheep industry’s importance in South Dakota.


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/

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