MM Livestock Co

  (Wildomar, California)
It just makes sense.
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Why we band lambs

Let me begin by saying banding and castrating lambs is not inhumane. If you have ever seen a case of fly strike you would know just how right I am. Wool sheep in this part of the country, especially range sheep can and do get very dirty. In the rainy season their tails would foul with brush, mud, debris, and feces, giving flies the perfect place to lay eggs. When those eggs hatch the larvae begin by eating the matter that has collected on the tail and moving on to the flesh of the animal. This is painful and potentially deadly. when docked properly lambs experience very little pain. They are back with mom within minutes and usually start nursing right away. We band our lambs between 3 and 7 days of age. Older lambs probably would experience more pain as would a lamb docked too short. We band at the caudal fold which is where the skin of the tail forms a V. This leaves the tail long enough to cover the"nether regions" but not so long as to collect debris. Hair sheep and crosses with naturally short tails don't require docking and that is one of the reasons we run Dorper crosses. Fewer lambs require docking and in another few generations we may not need to dock at all. Castrating is necessary to prevent lambs breeding too early, and young rams will fight and injure each other. Whethers do grow better in my opinion because their mind isn't focused on reproduction. In over 30 years I have never seen a lamb go into shock or die after being banded. I have seen undocked lambs go septic and die from fly strike and that is not a pretty sight. I would much rather band my lambs and have them grow up healthy and happy than not dock tails and have to treat infections with chemicals and antibiotics. Just because a lamb has been docked doesn't make the farmer inhumane, in fact its Just the opposite. Meg

Tagging and banding lambs

Today after morning chores were done it was time to tag and band the lambs. They get a Scrapie tag in one ear and a Farm Tag in the other. Our flocks are certified scrapie free so keeping accurate records is important. The scrapie tag has the US I.D # on it as well as the unique number assigned to each animal for traceability. The Farm Tags are pink or blue this year and numbered so we know when each lamb was born and who its mother is. We use Premier mini tags since they seem to work the best for us. Then we band tails. In our area fly strike can be a big problem so the long tailed lambs get banded and their tails fall off in about a week. The sheep with a higher percentage of Dorper. Influence have shorter tails that don't collect debris so we leave their tails alone. All the ram lambs get castrated as well. They just seem to grow better when whethered. We try to do this when the lambs are between 3 and 7 days old. It's less stressful on them to do it now rather than when they are older. They will staying the jugs for another day or two and then go back out with the flock. So far there have been no fatalities and everyone is healthy. Tomorrow I get the pleasure of helping Sammy castrate pigs and remove needle teeth. Not fun but necessary. Breeding season for the horses is just around the corner so Sir gets all his tests taken tomorrow as well. He's a heck of a nice young horse and after he finishes breeding the mares he has booked here he's going to Idaho to stand at stud for a couple of years as well as get some show miles on him. My filly "Pants" is going north with him to get some miles on her as well, she is a half sister to the colt that was murdered. That will just leave 5 head here until fall. Red is going to need some tuning up as it will be just him and Banker to do the cattle work this year. Well its time to feed the dogs and call this day a night. Remember farm pick up for members are Friday and Saturday. Call ahead so we know you're coming. Meg 951-805-7341

What about the pigs?

I've had a lot of questions recently about why we have a sister farm raising our pigs. Well, there are a lot of reasons, the most important one being it is better for them to be raised within a reasonable distance of a USDA slaughter facility. If we raised the hogs here they would have to be in a trailer for over 5 hours just to get to a packer, add lairage time and that's 18 plus hours between the farm and the end. That's WAY too much stress to put on a pig. Phil is only 30 miles from the plant so its 90 minutes from pasture to processing. Another reason is we wanted Berkies. We believe that these Heritage Hogs produce the best pork available. Berkshire is to pork as Wagu is to beef. The Breeder we talked to agreed to raise them for us and his facility is AMAZING! He raises his pigs in family groups on irrigated pastures, They get grains and veggies in addition to being able to root and act like pigs. They never have to walk in feces or drink dirty water. When I told Phil about "The Stein Principle" he laughed and asked me if I wanted a camera in the pastures to watch the pigs grow. I said "Can we Do that? My customers would love it!" So we're looking in to how to make that happen. Cool Stuff! There are other reasons for doing things the way we do them. Pigs with poor genetics, poor quality feed, and that suffer undue stress produce what is called PSE pork. PSE stands for Pale Soft and Exudative. The common term is Soft Pork. The texture of the meat is spongy, and the fat melts at room temperature. Soft pork is also the packers nightmare, it gums up the saws and is a mess. There are also some health concerns with soft pork and you can e-mail me for links to the studies. So bottom line. We want to give our customers the best product we can raise as locally as possible. A 5 hour trip once a month for me to pick up my animals at the locker beats them having to spend 18 hours waiting to become supper hands down. Meg
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