Sheep measure up at Saskatchewan show

Richard Easton’s lamb won the Canadian Arcott grand champion ram at this year’s Grasslands All Canada Sheep Classic.

The event, held in Humboldt, Sask., on July 18-21, attracted 385 entries from 71 consignors.

It is Canada’s best sheep show for buying and selling, said Easton of Lambs Quarter Ranch in Kelvington, Sask.

“We’ve never shown at the classic before,” he said. “We’re lucky enough to have it hosted here in Saskatchewan this year to be close to us because it’s a big chore to travel to places like Ontario and Nova Scotia.”

One of Easton’s lambs competed with 16 other sheep and won the Canadian Arcott grand champion ram. That means it was chosen as the best ram of any age group in the Canadian Arcott breed.

The winning ram lamb was born in 2019 and weighed 160 pounds.

“Winning the grand champion is a big deal for a lamb because it’s competing against bigger yearlings and senior rams,” said Easton.

The Grasslands Classic had more than 30 exhibits, including demonstrations in wool working, shearing and stock dog handling.

However, the purebred show and sale remained the biggest draw.

In each category, the rams are lined up and inspected by a judge, who then selects them from first to last, with the top one or two moving on to the next round.

“You need an animal that can move on its feet and legs, so you’ve got to be cognizant of that,” said David Cadsand, a show judge who was raised on a sheep farm and has judged competitions for more than 40 years.

“You basically need the same as cattle. You are looking for good conformation on the body. Lots of meat and capacity that can carry lambs. You also need good length of the body and breed character, too.”

Easton’s ram fell short in the supreme ram competition, which judges the grand champion from each breed against one another. But at a show like this, the grand champion for each breed is important to breeders because it improves future sales and increases exposure to buyers.

Easton and his common-law partner, Glenda Jackson, are in their fourth year of participating in shows. With this year’s grand champion ram and other rams and ewes that have placed well at Regina’s Canadian Western Agribition in the past, the pair has seen quite a bit of early success.

“We retired from other jobs and had a small land base there and wanted to make some use of it. Not enough for cattle so we did a lot of research into what breed to go to and that’s what led us to (farming Canadian Arcott sheep),” said Easton. “And meeting with some success early is nice. It helps you stay involved.”

Easton said his trick for raising quality sheep comes down to how they are fed. The Canadian Arcott breed, which was developed at the University of Ottawa, is among the best for feed conversion, so it’s a match made in heaven.

They are Canadian-made sheep designed for the meat carcass market, said Easton.

“If you look after them well, they’ll look after you. So feed good feed, pick good genetics and buy good stock. Pick something you believe in and pursue that.”

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