The families of Daniel and Bryn Anderson feature the next generation of sheep showmen

When brothers Daniel and Bryn Anderson were kids, they fully embraced life on the farm.
“We started out showing cows, then we showed a few hogs and then went into sheep,” explained Daniel.
Sheep seemed to be just the right fit for Anderson Farms back then, and now that the brothers have families of their own, raising sheep continues to take center stage. Anderson Farms focuses on raising breeding sheep for the younger generations of Andersons to show. The families breed Katahdin, Southdown and Lincoln sheep on hundreds of acres in Ash Grove, Mo.
The land has been in the family since the late 1950s, and Daniel and Bryn recall seeing a photo of their grandfather showing Hampshire sheep at the old Springfield Stockyards decades ago.
The newest generation of Andersons is just as passionate for showing sheep as those who preceded them.
Daniel and his wife, Laura, have four children; Ashtyn, 5, Maggie, 3, and 1-year-old twins, Mikah and Emmett. Bryn and his wife, Amanda, have two children; Brittany, 7, and Brennan, who is 1-year-old. Needless to say, traveling to shows got a bit more complicated for the Anderson brothers once their kids started coming along.
“That’s when it got a little tricky. We went from taking one vehicle to three,” said Daniel with a chuckle. But the Andersons wouldn’t have it any other way.
The family said they love sharing their passion for showing sheep with their children.
“It teaches them responsibility. They don’t want to be sitting in the house all day,” Bryn said.
The Anderson brothers say when they go to shows they see friends they made when they were younger and members of 4-H and FFA, and their children are all showing side-by-side.
“Everyone in the barns are like one big family,” said Bryn.
Anderson Farms hits a dozen or more shows a year, including the Ozark Empire Fair, the Missouri, Tulsa and Kansas state fairs, the All-American Junior Show and many county fair. The Anderson children are not old enough to participate in 4-H shows, so they show in open shows.
Amanda Anderson recounts a time when 7-year-old Brittany, who was not quite 2 at the time, proudly showed one of her sheep.
“She had a sippy-cup under her arm and she (Brittany) marched around the ring,” recalled Amanda.
All of the Anderson children seem to share interest of their fathers in showing sheep, and Anderson Farms yields some success on the show circuit.
They have achieved class winners at national shows, and grand champions at state and local shows. The Anderson children nabbed the Junior Herdsman award at Ozark Empire Fair last summer and 5-year-old Ashtyn won showmanship at the Polk County Fair. Anderson Farms hauls 20 sheep in their show string to smaller shows and the family takes its top 10 to national shows. Daniel also steps into the show ring as a judge for many local shows in the summer.
Anderson Farms runs a flock of about 75 sheep that includes four rams, 40 ewes and 30 lambs.
“It’s not challenging to show the different breeds, but it is difficult to breed three different breeds,” Daniel said.
Anderson Farms manages the different breeds by keeping them separated in many different pens. They are also able to split some of the breeds on to different farms.
The Andersons show their sheep as lambs, then as yearlings and then the show animals go into the farm’s breeding program.
“We pretty well have our ewe base so we try to find a ram that will put the most structure on them,” said Daniel.
The Andersons say they try to stay true to what they know works in their program instead of chasing industry trends.
“The industry has changed a lot. It used to be about height but now they are trying to get more structurally-sound sheep instead of just tall,” Daniel explained. Anderson Farms finds many judges also look for sheep that are straight on top and squared at the dock.
“The advice I have is, breed what you like,” said Daniel.
The Andersons prefer sheep with a moderate frame and a mild temperament. Their philosophy is to focus on what works for their farm because the opinions can change from show to show and judge to judge.
The Anderson brothers encourage their kids to keep trying despite whether they win or lose.
“If you don’t place in the top, don’t get discouraged, because with another judge, you may be first. It’s fun, that’s the main thing,” Bryn said.


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