Samuels Ranch Sheep 

WHat breed is that? 

It's complicated... 
Hampshire ewe
Hampshire ewe

Our Hampshire ewe, Anna, looks pretty good for a grandma!

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Hampshire ewe face
Hampshire ewe face

Hampshires have iconic wool on their foreheads and cheeks.

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Young composite lamb
Young composite lamb

This little lady was crying for her mom and her twin (they were 20 ft away).

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Hampshire ewe
Hampshire ewe

Our Hampshire ewe, Anna, looks pretty good for a grandma!

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When Arlene and Shad switched from cattle to sheep in 1968, their breed of choice was the Hampshire. Until 2007, Samuels Ranch still bred and registered Hampshire sheep. 

Over the years, we found it more and more difficult to find a purbred Hampshire ram who could handle our rugged mountain life. We get snow in the winter, and triple digit heat all summer long. Add to that our rugged terrain with slopes that are 30% to 70%, and it takes a sheep that's truly hardy and adaptable to thrive here. We have purchased at least 4 expensive Hampshire rams who didn't even survive to a second breeding season. No matter what we tried, they just failed to thrive. 

So along the way we tried a Dorset ram, and we were thrilled with the vigor of the lambs. The ram himself lived to a ripe old age. We also tried a Corriedale ram, and he was really something, reaching a truly remarkable age and thriving on our rangeland. 

 

We have had such great success with our cross-breading, that we are well and truly sold. Most of our herd now are composites:

Hampshire x Corriedale x Texel x Suffolk 

or

Hampshire x Corriedale x Texel x Dorset

When we first heard the term "composite" we rolled our eyes, too. Years ago, you would have been laughed out of the ring for trying to sell a crossbred ram, and now they're bringing some of the highest prices at CWGA sales. We find that we were doing it before it was cool, so hey, we might as well adapt to the marketing. 

Heterosis & Complementarity 

Sometimes two breeds are better than one. 

Heterosis is the observed phenomenon in which crossbred offspring thrive or perform better than the average purebred individual in either breed. This is also known as hybrid vigor. 

 

Complementarity is the combination of traits from separate breeds, such that the hybrid offspring have the optimum suite of traits from the parent breeds used. 

We're using Texel genetics, for example, for their above-average musculature. And for those of you who just Googled "texel sheep" and said, "ugh!" don't worry, our crosses keep the style and leg of the other breeds, but with better muscling through the chest and rear. 

 

We're quite happy with the hybrid vigor we have achieved.

 

If you are a sheep breeder curious to try it for yourself, why not buy one of our "composite" rams?

 

Let us do the work of crossbreeding for you!