Local herders see sheep industry comeback
Shearing is an annual process usually done in the spring. Last week,
from Monday to Saturday, about 2,300 sheep were being sheared in a five
stand shed on Nations Road.
Matt Kyle of Kyle Farms learned the
art of shearing during a three month stay in New Zealand five years ago.
It’s an uncommon skill and Matt had to go to Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania and even Wales to seek out the crew which was assisting him
Shears consist of a hand piece, comb and cutter.
During intensive shearing, cutters are swiftly dulled and need
replacement every 15 minutes. A shearer will go through eight combs and
32 cutters a day. Evenings after shearing are spent sharpening.
by cheap imports during the past two decades, the market for wool in
the United States hit rock bottom ten years ago, but is now beginning to
make a resurgence.
“There are markets out there,” Kyle reveals.
“We sell our wool to Mid State Wool Growers of Ohio.” Much of the
purchased wool is exported for carpet production.
The sheep are
being pastured at Seven Nations Farm in Geneseo belong to Kyle Farms, a
partnership of Matt, his brother DJ and cousin Nate. Flock manager is
Joe Enenheiser. Seven Nations Farms has a legacy of sheep raising,
having hosted populations equivalent in number to the Kyle flock
throughout many decades of the farm’s almost 200 year history.
personal involvement with sheep dates back to a 4-H project of his
youth, when his parents, David and Jeanne Kyle, were keeping about 200
Kyle Farms is based in the Rush-Geneseo-Avon area. More
lucrative than wool is the market for meat. The business goal is to
produce a quality all natural lamb for the consumers of western New
“The sheep industry on the east coast has started to look a
lot brighter,” Matt observes. “Lamb meat is healthy for you, and I think
you are going to start seeing it a lot more in the grocery store.”
Farms lamb is guaranteed to have been raised on pasture and mother’s
milk, has no growth stimulants or artificial hormones, and is fed a 100
percent vegetarian diet from birth to harvest.
Matt, his brother
and his cousin hope to revive this part of the livestock industry which
at one time was a mainstay of the upstate New York agricultural economy.
He describes the partnership as “three young individuals wet behind the
ears, trying to build a sustainable business.”
Kyle Farms was
founded by Matt and DJ’s parents David and Jeanne Kyle over 35 years
ago. Upon the death of David Kyle, the flock was downsized. After
attending Cornell University and spending time in New Zealand, Matt
began to re-grow the flock and seek out varied marketing opportunities.
full Kyle Farms family is today the recently married Matt and Shannon
Kyle, DJ and his wife Alexis, and Nate and his wife Kelly.
Livingston County News
Posted by Anne
@ 10:41 AM EDT