Faith Calvin hits the show ring with her registered Shropshire sheep
Faith Calvin has helped on her family farm in Dudenville, Mo., since she was 5 years old. Along with her parents, Kenlee and Sarah Calvin, she helps raise Red Angus cattle, Shropshire sheep, and Polish and Dutch rabbits.
She has grown up helping her dad with cattle chores and attending 4-H meetings with her mom, who is her 4-H leader and also the ag teacher at Avilla School where Faith attends.
Faith may only be 12 years old, but currently has around 20 calves of her own that she feeds and cares for daily. She is the Southwest Coordinator for the Missouri Junior Red Angus Association, where she helps promote the breed and informs others of activities.
In 2017, she purchased her first registered Shropshire lamb, followed by a few more the next year. She bred her first ewe in 2018. She currently has 28 registered Shropshires and one Shropshire crossbred she has purchased locally and from afar, including animals from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. She also bought her first rabbits about two years ago and now has a total of 18.
Faith shows her cattle, lambs and rabbits at many shows including the Jasper County Youth Fair, Ozark Empire Fair, Missouri State Fair, and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky.
She is very competitive when it comes to showing and names all of her animals. In 2019, her ram was supreme grand champion in the youth division at the Ozark Empire Fair and Supreme Champion in the 4-H show at the state fair.
“Showing is fun and a good experience. You learn how to make your animals better. I have met a lot of friends through showing Shrops,” Faith said.
Shrops are her favorite animals to show because they are very friendly.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I would like to continue showing through FFA,” she said.
Faith is very involved in her local 4-H club, where her projects also include horses, dogs, sewing, archery, vet science and shooting sports.
Faith is also on the horse judging team and has been part of the horseless horse project for three years, where she works with a horse named Gunter regularly and shows him at local fairs.
Faith’s mom Sarah raised sheep when she was younger and has educated Faith over the years, as well as helped her care for them. Faith’s favorite chore on the farm is to feed and care for the bottle lambs. During lambing time, a camera is used in the pens to keep an eye on the lambing sheep, which are checked every couple hours. The lambs stay with their mothers penned up for about a week in the barn before they are let out with the others.
“When they are born, we give them colostrum gel to give them energy which helps them get up and around quicker,” Faith said.
DNA testing is done on lambs to ensure they are not scrape or spider carriers. They also vaccinate by giving CDT (Clostridium perfringens type C & D plus tetanus) at about 2 to 3 weeks old and then wean them at 60 days. After they are weaned, they get a lamb starter creep feed. Faith then starts working with the lambs to break them to lead. When they are 5 to 6 months old, which is show age, they begin deworming the lambs. Deworming must be done four times a year. They feed ADM Showtech to their show lambs and ADM breeding sheep to the ewes and rams. The sheep eat alfalfa and orchard grass and are provided mineral tubs. Sometimes vitamin A and D are given around lambing time. SpectaGuard is also kept on hand if needed for scours.
“It takes about an hour and half to do chores twice a day, so three hours a day,” Faith said of her chores.
Faith helps her dad with morning chores, then again in the evening.
“Sheep chores include hay, grain and water, and cleaning the stalls or pens. Rabbits get water and feed pellets and sometimes hay,” Faith shared.
Faith has a very impressive collection of trophies and a ribbon tree that she has earned through showing her animals and participating in 4-H contests. She currently holds the traveling Marilyn Powell trophy for lead line where she dressed up in a wool outfit while showing her sheep. This is a promotional contest to support wool wearing. Often times the contestants make their own wool outfits, which she has done in the past.
Before each show, Faith’s dad helps her sheer the sheep.
“We slick sheer them right before a show and we go all the way down to the bottom of their wool.” The other sheep are sheered once a year. Some sheep are fitted but Shrops have to be slick sheered. “There is a certain point on their legs you have to go to, or you are counted off.”
They only wash the sheep right before the show.
“If you wash them every day then they’ll get wool fungus, which is contagious and kind of like ringworm. If you wash them out, then they’ll lose their lanolin which is what protects their skin,” Fair said.
Faith has been very fortunate to have retired ag teacher John Dillard help her with her sheep. She said, it is always good to have someone with experience to call when needed.
The last few years, Faith has obtained the titles of Little Miss Jasper County 2017, Jasper County Junior Princess and has earned the National Shropshire Little Bopeep award.