Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Shepherd Profile: Jason Seelow

This is part of a series of Q&As with shepherds who raise sheep on the Conservation Priority List for wool. The opinions expressed by the shepherds do not necessarily reflect those of The Livestock Conservancy.

Jason Seelow is a fourth generation sheep farmer. He was raised in central Illinois on a grain and sheep farm. He moved to Iowa and now raises sheep with his wife and two children. They started raising Lincoln Longwools after 35 years of raising Rambouillets. The Lincolns are on the Conservancy's list in the "Threatened" category. They have nine ewes and a ram named Phil.

"Our Lincoln flock is a new adventure that we purchased for our girls to show and raise," says Jason. "We like the Lincoln Breed because they are rare and need to be cared for. Also they are great mothers and gain well. The lambs are very hardy. The wool they produce is a nice long lustrous super strong tensile strength for carpet wool."

Why should a breeder sell their wool? 

We get a satisfaction when someone can take our product and make something from it.

Why have you chosen to sell wool in the form you do? 

We mainly sell raw wool, but we have a fiber mill close by that we work with that will process Roving, Combed top etc so a person can buy a fleece from me and I will hand deliver for free to the mill. They work with the mill to process into their choice of product.

Most important thing for management when selling wool is... 

Clean wool sells better and can get more money for it.

Why do you coat your sheep? 

We coat our sheep for 6-9 months of the year when we are feeding alfalfa hay. Hay chaff is one of the handspinners nemesis and so we do our best to prevent the contamination as good as we can.

What have you learned about coating sheep?

It can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. They do take a lot of management to maintain. Sewing up tears, washing, etc are important to maintain the coats. Also if the coat gets too tight as the wool grows it can make a fine wool felt as the coat rubs against the wool. The sheep will destroy the coat if there are sharp objects for them to catch on, so you need to go around the barn yard and fix any fence or problem areas. My first year using coats on our Rambouillets I didn’t take the coat off when the ewe had a lamb and the baby was caught in the coat strap and got strangled by mom. It was heartbreaking but we now remove the coat the first 2-3 days until the lamb gets more familiar with the environment.

What have you learned about selling wool? 

Clean wool sells better and you can ask a premium for it. Every wool type has a purpose and it’s important to understand the limitations and exploit its benefits. Set your goals up and work with them.

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