Jared Frieze and his wife Bailey live on 80 acres in rural Polk County, Mo., with 20 Dorper ewes, 60 White Dorper ewes and this spring, 130 lambs.
“We had a 170 percent lamb crop this season so we have been busy,” Jared commented recently about his favorite time of year. “Lambing time is the best, seeing all of your work come out well.”
Life with sheep has been Jared’s way of life ever since he can remember.
“My parents, Mike and Diane Frieze, as well as my older brother and sister, Justin and Bethany, have also raised Dorpers over the years. When I graduated high school, I already had 80 White Dorper sheep on my family’s farm.”
Jared said the Dorpers and White Dorpers offer a number of advantages over other forms of livestock.
“These animals don’t require a lot of daily care,” he explained. “They are really easy keepers. With these sheep, we don’t have many health problems to deal with. The parasites are the only thing you really have to watch and keep under control but fortunately, these breeds have a pretty high tolerance. Right now predator control is also an issue. The coyote problem is the worst I’ve ever seen it but we keep three Great Pyrenees-Anatoli Shepherd-cross dogs with the sheep and they do a good job of keeping our animals safe.”
Jared works for SoMo Farm and Ranch Supply in Springfield, Mo., and Bailey is a cosmetologist in Bolivar. Jared was already raising sheep when he finished his bachelor’s degree in animal science at Missouri State University in Springfield a few years ago.
Marketing his sheep through private treaties and registered breed sales are the two primary ways Jared sells sheep.
“The American Dorper Sheep Breeders Society sales are some of our biggest each year,” he said.
Like all the rest of the world, Jared is waiting to see how the re-scheduling of many major events will be affecting his business for the rest of 2020.
“About 90 percent of our lambs go into breeding operations, building up other folks’ production flocks. We sell a number of them for 4-H show youth projects, as well as to people with small acreages for their own starter flocks. We also sell a few meat lambs each year,” he added.
“These are meat sheep and in past years, most of the meat has gone to the ethnic market in the big cities, on the East and West coasts. That is finally changing to some extent here in the middle of the country. A new generation is turning to lamb, eating more of it as they look for healthier home-grown foods that can be found closer to home.”
Jared has also spent quite a bit of time on the road with his Dorpers and White Dorpers as part of the livestock exhibition industry. He said his sheep have taken him across the country.
“Our biggest shows have been the Fort Worth Stock Show and the North American Livestock Exhibition in Louisville, Ky., each year. I don’t know how that will all go this year,” he said.
Back home, Jared makes good use of his acreage by employing intensive grazing practices, using 25 paddocks, each one approximately 1 to 1 1/2 acres.
“They spend about seven days in each paddock before we move them and of course, like all animals in an intensive grazing program, when it is time to move them, they are eager to go and easy to move. They know the next stop will be offering them fresh, green pasture.”
Like other species of livestock, Jared continually works to improve.
“We are always working on the genetics, trying to create and improve the product, as a service to our customers and to the breed. As in all things agriculture, the hardest part is when you lose an animal, whether to disease, predators or environmental factors like the weather. It is unfortunate but it is simply a part of this business.
“The best part for me, is the family aspect, raising the sheep with your family. It is something we can all enjoy together and of course, each spring, there’s all those little lambs,” Jared said.