Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

lamb illustration

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on purchasing livestock and farm products from Kind Horn Farm.

Please don't hesitate to CONTACT US if you have any additional questions. Thank you for your interest!

Selection Criteria for Breeding Stock

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

The following is a summary of our guidelines for choosing breeder ewes and rams, in the order of importance to us.  Some of these are almost identical in order of rank.

1)  General health and worm resistance.  As an organic farm, it is especially important to us to breed only the most hardy and sound animals.  Parasite resistance is essential.  Any rams or ewes that need more than our herbal dewormers are not candidates for breeding here, and must be culled.

2)  Conformation, including general "meatiness" of the ram or ewe.  I have studied  correct conformation of the Icelandic Sheep breed with AI professionals from Iceland.  This class really spelled out for me what we as Icelandic Sheep breeders should be looking for as far as conformation in breeding stock.  Included in conformation for us is good horns on the rams.  Fiddling and trimming rams' horns is not something we want to do.

3)  Good mothering and milkiness of ewe.  We want our lambs to be fast gainers, so good mothering is important to us.  We also need our ewes to be easy lambers, so we think about ease of lambing in this category too.

4) a) Temperament  b) Fleece quality and quantity  c) Color and pattern.  These three criteria are of equal value to us.  They are all considered when choosing breeding matches, but none of them are first and foremost in our decisions.  We are looking for the best fleeces possible, as this is what our farm chooses as our most important product.  But, we do not keep a poorly conformed ewe, even one with a wonderful fleece.  Color and pattern are fun things to think about when choosing breeding partners, but these do not drive our decisions.


Biosecurity practices

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Again, as an organic producer, biosecurity is very important to us.  When we have folks visit our farm, they are required to wear plastic booties.  We have been reasearching boot wash/disinfectants that meet organic standards and have found one that we think qualifies, so we will be starting to use this in the spring of 2010.


Health Update before Pickup

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Included in the price of our sheep is a health check by our veterinarian.  This will happen within the 30 days prior to pickup or delivery of your sheep, but more likely within the two weeks prior to pickup or delivery.


Fertility and health guarantees

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Our animals are guaranteed to be healthy and fertile.  To this end, we have our vet come and perform a health check on all animals sold.  This happens within 30 days of pickup/delivery, and usually within 15 days.

We also guarantee our ewes and rams to be fertile.  If any sheep receiving adequate care and nutrition (under the supervision of a vet experienced with small ruminant healthcare) fails to reproduce offspring its first season, we will, at our discretion, offer a replacement ewe or ram,  or refund the purchase price.  **A special note here on buying ewe lambs-- up to 30% of ewe lambs may not cycle their first fall and may undergo a higher rate of birthing difficulites.   Bred ewe lambs will be sold only to farms with at least one lambing season experience.  Our fertility guarantee does not apply to ewes under one year old.

We have had great experience with ram lambs as breeders, and guarantee them as well as our proven rams.


Do you provide support after purchase?

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Yes.  We provide ongoing support and mentoring when you buy sheep from Kind Horn Farm.  We will gladly share with you all that we know.  We want you to be successful shepherds!


What does AI mean and why is it important?

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION.  Why AI, you might ask?  Simply put, AI give us access to the best sheep genetics in Iceland.  The folks in Iceland have been using AI in their breeding programs since the 1940's.  Each year, only the best rams are chosen for the AI breeding program from Iceland's 500,000+ sheep.  Now, we are able to use the best of this genetic pool in our own breeding programs.

Icelandic Breeders in North America are getting semen from Southram Station in the Southern part of Iceland.  The stations in Iceland have precise methods in place for evaluating the AI rams and the lambs they will produce.    When visiting the Southram website, you will see two terms frequently used:  BLUP and Daughter Prolificacy Rate.  BLUP shows us how the AI ram genetics should translate to traits in the offspring.  The Daughter Prolificacy Rate gives an indication of the fertility rates of the ram's daughters.

But what does this really mean to the flock?  Significant and rapid improvements in the flock.   AI breeding, along with dedicated culling, is the fastest way to gain improvements in conformation, fleece and muscling of your sheep.   Basically, AI provides us with a means to superior genetics that would not otherwise be available to us with only farm breeding.


Our price scale for breeding stock

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Several criteria affect our price scale for breeding stock.  We take into consideration the overall conformation of the sheep, AI genetics, fleece quality, milkiness, and temperament/personality of the sheep.  If a sheep has it all, then it would be in our highest price tier.  All of the sheep we sell are of breeding stock quality,  with pricing reflecting the very best to very good breeding stock.  We do not sell any sheep that we would not be happy to keep.  OUR CULLS ARE NOT SOLD TO ANYONE ELSE AS BREEDING STOCK.


Criteria for culling

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Culling is a difficult thing to do, but an essential part of raising high quality breeding stock.  We cull for any/all of the following reasons:

** Poor conformation, including bad horns in rams.

** Health trouble, unthriftiness.  This includes parasite trouble and any chronic issue, such as cough.

** Poor mothering.  An unattentive ewe, or one that cannot support twins will be culled.

** Bad temperament in rams.  We will keep only docile, well-mannered rams.


Can you deliver?

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Yes.  We can deliver animals to your farm.  Currently we can transport 4-5 animals at a time.   We will do our best to deliver within New England, as time and schedules allow.  We will assist you in arranging delivery across the country.  Delivery charges depend on the distance to be traveled, but we try to be reasonable.  Our strong preference is for buyers to pick up sheep here at the farm.   This allows for a farm tour and Q & A session.   This is valuable time for beginning shepherds to see first hand how our small hill farm operates, how we set up breeding groups, fencing, feeders, etc.


Health challenges of our flock

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Our farm has had no severe health challenges.  We have are free of  foot rot, OPP, Johnes disease, and scrapie.  We also have had no problems with pinkeye or abortion diseases.


Breeding priorities of our farm

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Our breeding plan is for a well rounded Icelandic sheep.  This means to us that we do not breed for one thing (meat, fiber, milk) exclusively.  We need our sheep to be healthy and well conformed, most importantly.  For our farm, meat and fiber are of equal importance.  With our AI breeding program, we are able to improve carcass qualities very quickly.   We do sell freezer lambs, and thus breed  for meaty lambs.  We are not doing any dairying right now, but milkiness of ewes is essential none the less to produce fast growing twins.  So, all of these are important.  We are selling good, well rounded Icelandic breeding stock, not just meat or fiber sheep.   Being an organic farm, we also place high value on parasite resistance!



Protocol for handling parasite issues?

FAQs - Purchasing from Kind Horn Farm

Deworming on our farm is handled very differently than on most Icelandic sheep farms.  Many deworming practices on many farms end up breeding parasite resistance.

We do not use conventional dewormers to treat parasites here.  Our deworming practices include a blend of deworming herbs and garlic drench.  We work to perfect our mineral mixes to meet the needs of our sheep and our land.  Meeting the mineral needs of our sheep is essential to their good health, with adequate copper being necessary for good parasite resistance.  We are testing livers this winter to be able to correctly guage how much added copper our sheep need.  We use the FAMACHA method to check for Barberpole worm, and this summer will begin to do fecal egg counts to better monitor which parasites are present and tailor our herbal dewormers to these parasites.

If we have have to deworm any of our sheep with a chemical dewormer, that sheep is no longer part of our organic program and is automatically put on our cull list.


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