About FBA

Finnsheep Breeders Association, Inc.

Finnsheep breeders are now found across many States producing purebred and crossbred Finnsheep. Breeders look to the Finnsheep Breeders Association, Inc. to provide record keeping of registrations and transfers of the breed. Since the inception of the Finnsheep Breeders Association, Inc. the organization has drawn on the expertise of leading research authorities to enhance the Finnsheep breed and provide leadership in promoting the Finnsheep qualities and characteristics.

FBA Mission Statement

The American Finnsheep Breeders Association:

  • Provides a national pedigree breed recording system for Finnsheep
  • Maintains the Finnsheep breed standard for the USA
  • Promotes animal health within the breed and nationally
  • Fosters and promotes the proliferation and marketing of Finnsheep within the national sheep industry and abroad
  • Is a national focal point for Finnsheep Breeders
  • Disseminates timely information to members on all matters relating to the breed

FBA Board & Officers

 President:
Ashley Hoffman (2023, 1st Term)
PO Box 174
Mitchells, VA 22729
(540) 661-7331
Email

Acting Secretary:
Mary Tucker (2022, 1st Term)
3028 US 421
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
828-851-4358 (cell/text)
828-635-0753 (home)
Email

Director:
Dr. Walter R. Threlfall, DVM, MS, PhD, DACT (2022, 2nd term)
7012 Old Liberty Rd
Powell, OH 43065
614-581-6602
Email

Director:
Catherine Precht (2023, 1st term, Appointed)
44661 870th Ave
Hector, MN 55342
320-296-8025
Email

Director:
Johanna Hunt (2024, 1st term)
859-707-9593
Email

Director:

Deborah Kirsch (Appointment 2022)
1442 N. Hamilton St.
High Point N.C. 27262

Breeder Directory

Breeder Directory listings are available for an additional fee alongside annual dues.  Payment is due at the beginning of the year and listings run for the calendar year.  To update your listing, contact the secretary.

Arkansas

PONKER FARM
KELLI OTTING
346 W FIRETOWER RD.
HARDY, AR 72542
309-642-7330
kelli.otting@gmail.com
www.ponkerfarm.com

Friendly, disease-free, robust little herd of Finnsheep with lovely wool. Breeding stock and delivery available.

California

KINGFISHER FARM
AMY KING
200 PUDDIN LANE
FORTUNA, CA 95540
530-848-3551
amypking@gmail.com

HM FARMS
MATT MAXWELL
18900 ELEANOR LANE
COTTONWOOD, CA 96022
916-284-9261
mmaxwell491@gmail.com

MEDLEY FARM & KENNEL
TAMARA MYERS
13470 ALABAMA RD.
GALT, CA 95632
209-748-5046; 707-971-0578
medleyrn@yahoo.com
www.medleyfarm.com

Purebred, registered adults; lambs; fleeces, pelts and fiber pets. White, black, brown, grey, fawn, pied, badger face and mouflon.

Colorado

AIMEE KING ROGERS
PO BOX 184
19345 COUNTY RD 126
BUFFALO CREEK, CO 80425
303-898-7959
jackpotspringranch@gmail.com

Illinois

PRIMROSE PATH FARM
TERRISA TURNER
3502 BLACK OAK LANE
EDWARDSVILLE, IL 62025
618-570-8871
turner428@yahoo.com
www.primrosepathfarm.net

FBA Finnsheep lambs

Iowa

DALE L. AMENDT
6815 WATERMAN BLVD.
SUTHERLAND, IA 51058
712-446-3489

Purebred Finnsheep. Crossbred Finnsheep (Finn X Suffolk, Finn X Corriedale)

MARVIN BLAIR
3402 FLETCHER AVE.
LAKE CITY, IA 51449
712-464-8153; 712-464-3688
bbqshop@gmail.com

Purebred Finnsheep. Crossbred Finnsheep (Finn X Hamp & Finn Dorset)

MORMON TRAIL FARM
CLARK E. BREDAHL
1911 290TH ST.
GREENFIELD, IA 50849-8016
641-745-2323; 641-221-0551
bredahl.mtfarms@gmail.com
www.mtrailfarms.com

Flock ID: IA 3752
Registered white Finnsheep. Crossbred Finn x Dorset x Ille De France. Footrot free; OPP flock test negative, complete production/performance data available.

Maine

FOX FARM
BILL & APRIL FOX
5 GILMAN RD
MONMOUTH, ME 04259
706-728-1940
billfoxmaine@hotmail.com

DENISE & BRUCE TAILBY
P.O. BOX 784
WALDOBORO, ME 04572
207-790-1168
denise.tailbg@gmail.com
www.birchfieldfarm.net

We are a small Maine farm on the coast raising Finnsheep for lambs and beautiful white fleeces.

Maryland

HONEYSUCKLE FARM
JOHN & MARY O’MALLEY
1600 EDNOR RD.
SILVER SPRING, MD 20905
301-421-9520; 240-462-3620
johnandmaryomalley@yahoo.com

Purebred Finnsheep, registered breeding stock, fleeces, roving, freezer lambs.

Massachusetts

MARTI TAFT-FERGUSON
7 MARTIN ROAD
SHELBURNE FALLS, MA 01370
413-489-3196
marti@walkingcloudfarm.com
www.walkingcloudfarm.com

Purebred Registered Finnsheep. Healthy & personable, exquisite fiber. Lambs, adults, starter flocks, fleece, wool and more Always raised with love!

WALKING CLOUD FARM
MARTI TAFT-FERGUSON
7 MARTIN ROAD
SHELBURNE FALLS, MA 01370
413-489-3196; 763-221-4188
marti@walkingcloudfarm.com
www.walkingcloudfarm.com

Purebred registered Finnsheep. Healthy & personable, exquisite fiber. Lambs, adults, starter flocks, fleece, wool and more. Always raised with love!

HEDGEHOG HILL FARM
ASHLEIGH WOOLF
6 CHICKADEE LN
NORTH EASTON, MA 02356
508-649-9496
thesheep@hedgehoghill.farm
www.hedgehoghillfarm.godaddysites.com

Hedgehog Hill Farm is dedicated to breeding happy, healthy, registered Finnsheep for fleece,mil & temperment. Check out our website!

Michigan

FILIGREE SHEEP
AMIEE BUCKLEY & EMILY LEMIEUX
11151 DENNINGS RD
JONESVILLE, MI 49250
517-250-0731
filigreesheep@gmail.com

OVERLAND LAMB
AIMEE BUCKLEY
11151 DENNINGS RD
JONESVILLE, MI 49250
aimeebuckley9718@gmail.com

Minnesota

QUINT & CATHERINE PRECHT
44661 870TH AVE
HECTOR, MN 55342
320-296-8025
cclambandwool@gmail.com

Breeding purebred Finnsheep and crosses for production qualities. Focusing on growth, carcass, wool and prolificacy. Breeding stock for sale.

PRAIRIE WILLOWS FARM
HEIDI QUIST
16026 345TH ST.
CENTER CITY, MN 55012
651-238-5370
prairiewillowsfarm@gmail.com
www.prairiewillowsfarm.com

Scrapie Flock ID: MN05935
Registered colored Finnsheep and Finn/Gotland crossbreds. Specializing in quality fleece for spinning, weaving and felting. Breeding stock available.

GALE WOODS FARM PARK
TIM REESE
7210 COUNTY RD. 110 WEST
MINNETRISTA, MN 55364
763-694-2002; 612-490-2186
tim.reese@threeriversparks.org
www.galewoodsfarm.org

Purebred Finnsheep. Corriedale/Finn Crosses.
Flock Prefix: TRP.
SFCP Enrolled Status since 2005; Flock# MN 43.
Gale Woods is an educational farm. Products include wool & yarn, lamb, beef, poultry, hogs, and a vegetable CSA.

PRAIRIE PLUM FARM
SUE WIEGREFE
42443 120TH STREET
MABEL, MN 55954
715-220-1183
swiegrefe@sbcglobal.net
www.prairieplumfarm.com

RR Babydoll Southdown & BDS x Finnsheep selected for high quality fiber and orchard maintenance. White and colored breeding stock available.

New York

BIGFOOT FARM
JOHANNA HUNT
859-707-9593; 859-340-0089
QHEventr@aol.com

Producing purebred Finnsheep with a focus on wool quality, temperament, structure, and the preservation of the breed.

RIVENDELL FARM OF ONEONTA
BARBARA N KAHL
159 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
ONEONTA, NY 13820
607-432-2858
babsdesign3@yahoo.com
babsdesign3.wixsite.com/rivendell-farm

Biosecure, Closed Purebred Finnsheep Flock, breeding stock.

STILLMEADOW FINNSHEEP
ELIZABETH H. KINNE GOSSNER
5883 RANDALL HILL RD.
DE RUYTER, NY 13052
315-852-3344
stillmeadowfinnsheep@frontier.com
www.stillmeadowfinnsheep.com

Flock #NY69 – SFCP Certified Scrapie Free, September 2012
Biosecure Closed Purebred Finnsheep Flock, developed since 1994. O.P.P.Negative, highly maternal, docile temperaments, quality fleeces. Choose Stillmeadow for proven easy care genetics.

BAY HAVEN SHORTAILS
LISA KONNERTH
80 BA RD.
BROOKHAVEN, NY 11719
631-786-9811; 631-776-0279
bayhavenshorttails@hotmail.com
www.bayhavenshorttails.com

We are a micro fiber farm on Long Island offering yarns, fiber, and lambs when available. Contact us at bayhavenshorttails@hotmail.com

RIVENDELL FARM OF ONEONTA
BARBARA N KAHL
159 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
ONEONTA, NY 13820
607-432-2858
babsdesign3@yahoo.com
babsdesign3.wixsite.com/rivendell-farm

Biosecure, Closed Purebred Finnsheep Flock, breeding stock.

POINT OF VIEW FINNSHEEP
STEN & CARALEIGH WILSON
PO BOX 535
BANGELL, NY 12506
845-868-4140
finnsheep@finnsheep.net
www.finnsheep.net

North Dakota

APPLE HAVEN RANCH
PAUL T. MAHIN
3960 41ST AVE SE
TAPPER, ND 58487
701-471-4992
plazytm@hotmail.com

Ohio

HANNAH’S HAPPY FINN SHEEP
HANNAH SMITS
3706 BASS RD.
WILLIAMSBURG, OH 45176
513-724-2679
info@hannahshappyfinnsheep.com
www.hannahshappyfinnsheep.com

Purebred Finnsheep

DR. WALTER R. THRELFALL, DVM, MS, PHD, DACT
7012 OLD LIBERTY RD
POWELL, OH 43065
614-581-6602
wrtdvm@gmail.com

Oregon

BONNIE GARDNER
FRIENDSHIP FARM
42265 NEW BRIDGE RD
RICHLAND, OR 97870
541-893-6027
eieio97870@gmail.com

Organic practices on agri-forestry land in eastern Oregon. Raised with respect for our planet and each other.

LH PINE HILL FARM
HOLLY HAMILL & LORENE KENNEDY
1734 E M-20
SHELBY, MI 49455
989-672-4140; 231-225-2426
hollyhamill45@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/LH-Pine-Hill-Farm-313533032366352/

Purebred Finnsheep breeding stock. Bio-secure, disease free farm, high performancegenetics, efficient & versatile bloodlines. USDA export Scrapie program.

Pennsylvania

MICHELLE & PAUL GEISS
5 GALLON DOG RANCH
20519 LINDSEY HOLLOW ROAD
CORRY, PA 16407
814-254-8501; 814-254-8500
pmgeiss@gmail.com
www.5gallondogranch.com

Purebred Registered Finnsheep. Specialize in grays. Ideal for your Hobby Farm, gentle disposition and personalities, easy on your paddocks.

JAN & DALE HAMBY
FAIRE WINDS FARM, LLC
2 FAIR WINDS LANE
QUARRYVILLE, PA 17566
717-239-9215; 717-239-9216
jan.hamby@gmail.com
www.fairwindsfarmpa.com

Flock Prefix: HMB
Purebred Finnsheep with very fine fleece in a variety of colors and lovely personalities. Wool and alpaca fiber and yarn.

RALPH & ELLEN SHEAFFER
667 ST PAUL RD
MEYERSDALE, PA 15552
814-442-9453
sheafferr2@gmail.com

Registered purebred Finnsheep. Small flock. Works with local vet to insure health of sheep. Located in SW Pennsylvania. Raw wool.

Texas

HEATHER OTTO
MOON OVER EWE
PO BOX 70
CEDAR CREEK, TX 78612
512-825-1457
moonoverewe@gmail.com
www.texasfinnsheep.com

We are raising beautiful purebred Finnsheep, and stunning fleeced Finn/Shetland crossbred sheep in Central Texas. OPP and Johnes negative.

Vermont

SUSAN BESHAR
AJ’S HAPPY CHICK FARM
287 SINON RD
WEST GLOVER, VT 05875
802-242-0062
susan@ajshappychick.farm
www.AJsHappyChick.Farm

AJHC is a mixed farm specializing in Finnsheep, breeding for health & fiber quality. 2022 lambs will be certified organic.

SIRI SWANSON & COLIN SIEGMUND
YANKEE ROCK FARM
363 FISHER RD.
ORWELL, VT 05760
781-264-0430; 959-444-5566
yankeerockfarm@gmail.com

Registered Finns for performance. Selected for prolificacy, confirmation, and hardiness true to breed standard. Breeding stock, meat, yarn, and fiber products available. NSIP enrolled flock.

BECKEY THOMPSON
AUTUMN RAYNE ACRES
149 STEWART RD
BERLIN, VT 05602
757-240-6798
autumnrayneacres@gmail.com

Purebred and Icelandic Finn crosses raised on grass in the beautiful state of Vermont.

RED BARN FINNSHEEP
RICHARD CROCKER
93 BURNETT RD
PUTNEY, VT 05346
Rcrocker.horizon@gmail.com

WHITE RIVER
ANNE O’CONNOR
1325 WILDLIFE RD
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT 05001
603-443-3524
anne@cloverandbeefarm.com
www.cloverandbeefarm.com

Breeder of furry & friendly Finnsheep and Valais Blacknose in Vermont.

Virginia

ASHLEY HOFFMAN
CEDAR VIEW FARM
PO BOX 174
23088 SLAUGHTERS MILL RD
MITCHELLS, VA 22729
540-661-7331
cedarviewfarmva@gmail.com
www.cedarviewfarmva.com

CODY MANSPILE
CROOKED BRIDGE FARM
1765 JACKTOWN ROAD
LEXINGTON, VA 24450
540-784-9254
crookedbridgefarm@gmail.com

Quality white Finnsheep, bred for the commercial or purebred flock. Home of Naomi Smith’s House Mountain Flock.

JOHN & KRISTEN MCCANN
WOODSONG FARM
1185 COUNTY LINE ROAD
BASSETT, VA 24055
276-421-2204
jnkmccann@yahoo.com
www.farmingatwoodsong.com

Quality fleece, conformation, size, hardiness, maintaining heritage traits and abilities. Tested Johnnes and OPP free. Breeding stock white and colored.

ROBIN RENNER DOTY
GYPSY MOUNTAIN FARM
1346 NESTER SCHOOL ROAD
DUGSPUR, VA 24325
716-560-0226
eagypsy@aol.com

White, all natural colors, badger & piebald. Breeding Stock, Fleeces, Roving, Hand Dyed Fiber. eagypsy@aol.com. GypsyMountainFarm on Facebook & Etsy.

SULLIVAN FARM
PETER SULLIVAN
PO BOX 174
11320 DROGHEDA MOUNTAIN ROAD
RIXEYVILLE, VA 22737
571-484-4548
peters8@vt.edu

Washington

JESSICA DUNCAN
NINE TREES FARM
3539 SEAMAN ROAD
WAITSBURG, WA 99361
509-956-8892
jandjduncan@ninetreesfarm.com
www.ninetreesfarm.com

Our small family farm takes pride in raising quality Finnsheep and Gotland sheep for fiber products, breeding stock, and lambs.

DAN & LEANNE HUGHES
TRIPLE L FINNSHEEP
89202 N. HARRINGTON RD.
WEST RICHLAND, WA 99353
509-539-6745
danlea23@msn.com
www.triplelfinnsheep.com

Scrapie Flock ID: WA2252
Purebred Finnsheep.
Export Certified. RR/QR animals available. Breeding since 1982 for size, productivity, milk, fleece. White, brown, black, pied, gray, badger.

HUCKLEBERRY FARM
COLLEEN & MURRAY PECK
36116 SE 89TH PL
SNOQUALMIE, WA 98065
425-301-9856 ; 425-888-3290
ovina@aol.com

We specialize in black & white piebald Finns. Why? Because I love them!

JERUTH FARM
RUTH MCCAULEY
30722 N MONROE RD.
DEER PARK, WA 99006
509-276-7715
rem68@aol.com
www.jeruthfinnsheepfarm.com

Jeruth Finnsheep Farm…Breeding Stock, Wool, Brown, Black, White Ewes and Rams, Lambs

DANCING WATERS FARM
DEBRA L. PERRY
4923 163rd LN SW
ROCHESTER, WA 98579
360-273-9077
mountaintrailwalker@yahoo.com

FBA Registered flock. Focus on fiber, form, function.

BRENDA TREIBEL
27824 SE 378TH PL
ENUMCLAW, WA 98022
360-367-1515
fuzzyfunfish@gmail.com
www.beesllamas.com

Bee’s Llamas, Finnsheep. Beautiful, Correct, Friendly Finnsheep. Breeding stock, Wool. Creative Original Designs, Needle Felt Sculptures. Hand Spun Novelty Art Yarns

SOLACE FARM
ROBERT & SANDRA WILLFORD
30119 N. SPOTTED RD.
DEER PARK, WA 99006
509-276-7160
sandra@solacefarmer.com
www.solacefarmer.com

Family farm naturally raising quality scrapie resistant breeding stock. Raw fleece, roving and handspun yarn available in white and color.

West Virginia

CHILDERS FARM
DEBBIE CHILDERS
3389 LITTLE CREEK RD.
WHITE SULPER SPRINGS, WV 24986
304-536-3232
childersfarm58@yahoo.com

Wisconsin

AYRWEN FARM
ART & GLORIA JOHNSON
642 SWEDISH MISSION ROAD
RIVER FALLS, WI 54022
616-402-9882
ayrwen@me.com

BOLAND FAMILY FARM
KRISTIN BOLAND
736 ROUND LAKE ROAD
LUCK, WI 54853
715-472-4166
bolandfamilyfarm@gmail.com

RUTH HANSEN
706 BOWENS ROAD
BELLEVILLE, WI 53508
608-576-6821
rhansen@chorus.net

Hall of Fame

2021 - Clark BreDahl

Downloadable pdf

FBA Hall of Fame Inductee: Clark BreDahl

Clark BreDahl is a commercial and purebred sheep producer whose experience with the  Finnsheep breed goes back over 40 years. He purchased his first Finn ram from the U.S. Meat  Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska in 1978 and has used the breed on his family’s  SW Iowa farm continuously ever since. 

He is a past president of the Iowa Sheep Producers Association,   the Cornbelt Lamb Marketing Association and the Finnsheep BreedersClark BreDahl Association and has authored a monthly column,  Dispatch from Mormon Trail Farm, for The Shepherd magazine for over three decades. 

He was the first Finnsheep breeder to enroll in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) and is a firm believer in using data driven numbers for making flock improvement decisions. Clark and his wife Linda are the proud parents of two married daughters whose families are both involved in sheep production on Iowa farms.

2020 - Grant Blackburn

Downloadable pdf

FBA Hall of Fame Inductee: Grant Blackburn
Grant Blackburn has selflessly served the FBA and Finn breed for many years. To celebrate his
induction into the Hall of Fame, Grant shared some of his memories from his time with the FBA.
Grant writes:
My time with the FBA has been a wonderful experience. It started in Dec 94 when I bought three bred ewe lambs From Naomi Smith. I went to my first annual meeting in 1995 held at Cleveland in conjunction with a festival, I can’t remember which one. As I remember there was quite a roll up with around twenty or so in attendance. At the end of the meeting I found myself President!

Of course this was when the internet was in it’s ’embryonic’ stage, so most
everything was transacted by ‘snail mail’ and phone calls. At the same time the long time secretary , Claire Carter, began having health issues and was slowly losing her grip on the Secretarial duties which, back then, entailed the registration function (all manually recorded, no computers) and treasurer duties as well. In the end we split the Secretary and Treasurer duties and Sandy De Master (treasurer) kindly volunteered to take on the registration function.

The FBA account books were in a similar situation and the bank had very little money in it. Sandy managed to work through the manual books and computerized them as well.

A year or two later on we were able to get the Hampshire Breeders Assossiation contracted to do our registrations. This was initiated by Dr. Paul Hunter, who had ‘Hamps’ as well as Finns. They had computerized their registrations and thus saved the FBA having the outlays for our small flock. This was pretty much the start of Associated Registries as you know it today.

Our next big problem was how to get enough money to market the
breed? The Board met at the Springfield, IL sheep sale and decided to introduce an ‘activity fee’, (known as ‘annual dues’ today) as a way to get revenue to promote the breed. Combined with additional membership and registrations the bank account slowly accumulated allowing more marketing of the breed.

In the late 90s the internet was starting to become popular and recognized as an excellent marketing tool. The board agreed to register a domain name and I put together a pretty rudimentary web page which had facts about the breed and who to contact. We had remarkable success with it and I remember being surprised at the number of ‘hits’ we were getting daily, from around the world! Some of those were probably search engine bots. The webpage was launched Jan 1999, and we were very close to being the first sheep breed on the web; we were leading the way you might say! Of course much work has been done on that since and contracted to a webmaster.

Having got the webpage up and running the board realized we needed to develop a business structure, so people knew what we were all about. That eventually happened and is still in use today.

Over the years I’ve served in the various positions on the Board and was treasurer for a while until that was contracted to Associated Registries.

But now it’s time for the next generation of breeders to take over and I’m delighted to see some ‘young blood’ and fresh faces on the Board.

Grant Blackburn

You can also find an article titled, “Reflections on My Beginnings with Sheep or, How I Came to
Judge a Wool Show” writen by Grant in Short Tales Volume 96: November 2017 (archived on
the FBA website). Above is an image included with that article. It shows Grant, holding the mic,
with “Rambo” the ram held by former breeder Lonnie Cook at the 1999 Illinois Finnsheep sale

2018 - Naomi Smith

Downloadable pdf

Naomi Smith, Finnsheep Breeder Extraordinaire
by Mary O’Malley
Legendary Finnsheep breeder, Naomi Smith was inducted into the Finnsheep Hall of Fame at the May 2018 meeting of the Finnsheep Breeders Association. Naomi graduated in 1953 from Cornell University with a degree in animal husbandry. She and her husband Joe Smith would manage Angus cattle for many years before beginning their own farming venture. An article by Dr. Charles Parker, (a former roommate of Joe’s and an expert on all things sheep) highlighting the benefits of raising Finnsheep intrigued Naomi. She proposed to raise breeding sheep, not market lambs. The Finn, with its excellent maternal instincts and ability to forage seemed a good fit for their mountainous property. The trait of prolificacy would ensure they could grow their flock quickly.

In her over 30 years of breeding Finns, Naomi has developed a keen
understanding of Finnsheep. She notes that the early Finns were smaller,
similar in size to a Shetland. Through careful breeding, she and other breeders have increased the size of the Finn- sheep so that currently a mature Finn ewe will range in weight from 130-180 lbs and a mature ram can be expected to weigh from 170-240 lbs. She will only sell rams from litters of triplets or more. Twin rams will be sold for the ethnic market.

A spry 85 year old, Naomi keeps going at an age when many people have
turned into couch potatoes. Naomi continues to do a great deal of her own
farm work, writes articles on Finnsheep for a variety of sheep publications
and participates in farm related workshops and sales. It has not always been easy to maintain this enthusiasm as her personal life has contained
heartbreak and loss with the untimely deaths of each of her 4 children as well as her husband. As Naomi puts it, the sheep are a reason to keep going. The joy of seeing newborn lambs, and the challenge of keeping the flock healthy are rea- son enough to get up in the morning.

Naomi’s enthusiasm and excellent ideas have been a guiding force in the FBA for many years. She recognizes the value of a breed organization in preserving the unique qualities of a purebred animal (whether Finnsheep or Angus cattle). She has served the FBA as president, director, and secretary. Her knowledge about the organization is so vast, that nearly any question can be answered if you simply “ask Naomi”.

A tireless promoter of Finnsheep, Naomi has traveled all over the country in her pickup truck, Finns in tow. In recent years, she has been a regular
participant in both the Great Lakes Sale (May) and the Rhinebeck Sale
(October). Participating in the 2018 Great Lakes Show and Sale myself this year, I can tell you that many people stopped by my sheep and asked for….Naomi! This is in part due to the personal attention Naomi gives prospective and eventual buyers. Jason McCune a breeder in Ohio commented that Naomi writes him a handwritten letter every year and calls to make sure things are going well. In this technologically sophisticated world, it can be hard for a breeder without a computer to keep up, but Naomi manages. Her example is one from which every shepherd can learn.

Note: this article also appears in the 2018 July/August of THE BANNER

 

2018 - Grace Hatton

Downloadable pdf

Hall of Fame Recipient Grace Hatton
MY JOURNEY WITH FINNSHEEP
What brought me to Finnsheep in 1985 was their prolificacy. I’d raised dairy goats for a while and
wanted to get away from the twice daily milking routine. The first sheep I had was a grade Suffolk
ewe. She was several years old and only had single lambs. I did a little research and bought a
Tunis ewe because of what I had read about their prolificacy with the same result. Eventually I
guess I might have had twins from one or the other, but I was accustomed to my Nubian dairy
goats frequently have twins, triplets and even quads now and then.
There was no way I could afford to keep sheep that had single lambs or even twins. We live in the
Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania and winter lasts a long time and hay needs to be fed for at
least six months of the year. And that hay and grain needed to be brought in. The main crop
harvested from our county is rocks. Fact: the bluestone from quarries along the Delaware River
paved New York City’s sidewalks.
I bought my first Finn ewe in 1985. After a disastrous first purchase of a Finn ewe that had OPP,
we found another breeder, Brian Magee. So our little Finn flock started off OPP negative and soon
began to produce the numbers of lambs I had hoped for from everything I had read.
We never had more than half a dozen ewes at any time. Out of curiosity I decided to see if I could
breed them twice a year. I had read about how Finnsheep were managed on smallholdings in
Finland and some were managed to lamb twice a year in that country.
Finnsheep developed in Finland because the length of the winters severely limited the number of
animals that could be overwintered, but the grass grew like crazy during the brief summer under
the midnight sun. Very few ewes were fed over the winter, and yet lots of lambs were produced to
eat all the grass.
It was hard to lamb in late March here because there was the very real possibility of temperatures

of around 10 above zero. A couple of times in the early 80’s here the overnight temperature mid-
winter had dipped to 25 below zero. But by lambing in late March or early April, I could wean

lambs and rebreed the ewes at about five or six weeks post lambing. Lambs had creep feed
available from birth. The ewes usually had smaller litters in the fall, and the milder weather at
lambing time was very welcome. One of my best ewes, Hannah, dropped five lambs one spring
and five more in the fall of that same year. That year our six ewes, including one yearling,
produced 26 lambs.
Martha, my best ewe ever in terms of lifetime production, was the offspring of two Magee Finns
and had trips as a yearling and then two more lambs that fall. She had quads the following spring
and was not bred for fall lambing that year. As a three year old she had quads in the spring and
triplets in the fall. I can’t locate the rest of her production, but it was phenomenal.
Our soil is very dry and sandy and we only have a couple of acres of pasture and then there are the
bears. After losing a ewe to a black bear, we learned to lock the sheep in the barn at night year
round and to top our 4’ woven wire fence with electric.
Having sheep here was very labor intensive and could never be much more than a hobby. The
farm has been in the Hatton family since the 1850’s and we love it, but most of it is wooded or
ledge and all of it on a slope.

A few years into raising sheep I learned to spin on a spinning wheel and then fell in love with the
beautiful, lustrous Finn wool. Shortly thereafter, my husband was given an antique spinning
wheel from the early 1800’s which he restored for me. Then word got around and soon he was
restoring antique spinning wheels so they could actually be used for spinning for folks all over the
USA.
The sheep led us both on a long and pleasant journey. We are grateful to have had the opportunity
to own such lovely animals as our Finnsheep.

2017 - Dr. Charles Parker

Downloadable pdf

Adding PEP to a flock with Finnsheep: Performance, Efficiency and
Profitability
Reflections by Dr. Charles Parker on Finnsheep, their unique genetics and their awesome possibilities By Mary O’Malley, FBA President

At the May 2017 meeting of the Finnsheep Breeders Association, Dr. Charles Parker, PhD, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University was inducted into the Finnsheep Hall of Fame for his outstanding research with, and support of Finnsheep. During his remarks at the presentation, he shared his extensive knowledge of the overall sheep industry and his perception of how Finnsheep fit into the bigger picture of raising sheep in America.

Growing up on a Merino sheep farm, Parker was well aware of the influence the “Merino Craze” had on Ohio’s sheep Industry. Wool prices as high as $2. 75/ lb. were recorded in 1812 at the woolen mill in Steubenville Ohio. In 1867 the Ohio sheep inventory was 7.7 mil- lion. Today there are 117,000 sheep in Ohio.

In 1968, Dr. Parker invited Dr. H.P. Donald of Scotland to speak at the Ohio Sheep Day on the benefits of Finnsheep, particularly their unique trait of prolificacy. Having obtained a doctorate in Animal Genetics at Texas A & M and with an interest in genetic selection for re- productive and growth efficiencies of sheep, Parker was intrigued with Dr. Donald’s research. Finnsheep arrived in the United States in 1968 and would be studied at Pipestone, MN; OARC, Illinois; Wooster, Ohio and Dubois, Idaho. Finns were introduced at Ohio Agricul- ture Research and
Development Center, (OARDC) in 1971. More studies have been done with
Finnsheep than any other breed.

Dr. Parker noted that the U.S. Sheep industry has had many transitions. Initially raising quality fine wool was the focus which in part explains the Merino sheep craze. Gradually breeders shifted toward dual purpose breeds and later to meat production breeds. Currently hair sheep like the Katahdin are enjoying significant popularity due to their parasite resistance, meat quality and the added bonus of no shearing necessary.

The most profound change in the sheep industry has been the decline in inventory. In 1942 there were 56.7 million sheep in the United States. Currently (2017) there are 5.2 mil- lion. This doesn’t make sense, when, as Dr. Parker notes “Sheep are biologically beautiful animals and respond to quality care and management. They are ideal for small rural farm enterprises as they require low investment costs and can efficiently utilize renewable resources for food and fiber production.”

According to Dr. Parker, “Our industry’s greatest need is to increase the lbs. of quality lamb produced per ewe per year.” Current lamb meat production stands at 95 -100 %, meaning one marketable lamb produced per ewe. Until the early 1970s, most of the sheep related research identifying issues that affected lamb production focused on management techniques like predator control, nutrition and health care. At OARDC, Parker researched the genetics of resistance for internal parasites and
conducted nutritional studies on optimal nutrition for high producing ewes. Dr. Parker noted that overall lamb percentage has in- creased by only 14 % over the last 35 years and emphasized that lamb meat production can be doubled by using prolific genetics. This is where the Finn stands out.

Crossing purebred Finns with a meat production breed can significantly increase production. A 1972 study at the U.S. Meat and Animal Research Center (Nebraska) showed Finn- cross market lambs to have a growth rate equal to other breeds. Breeding a purebred Finn- sheep or 1⁄2 (F-1) Finn ram to a ewe with no Finnsheep ancestry will result in increased number of lambs born and hybrid vigor which in turn leads to profit. A shepherd raising market lambs can increase the lamb crop percentage by 25% in one generation by introducing an F1 cross ram to the ewes of another breed .

Despite this proven research, Finnsheep have not gained the popularity one might expect from these numbers. Dr. Parker reminded us that the sheep industry in general has challenges competing with beef and chicken, yet marketing opportunities abound. Today, 35% of the U.S. population comes from an ethnic group that prefers lamb! These consumers seek a lamb that is in the range of 40 – 100 lbs. at the time of slaughter and provide another excellent opportunity for the small flock owner. Nutritionists encourage their cardiac patients to consume
adequate amounts of omega 3 fats as they have been associated with decreased risk of inflammation and heart disease. While a variety of foods are known to contain desirable levels of omega 3, grass-fed lamb has been identified as having an ideal omega-3 to omega 6 fat ratio. According to Parker, “We are hiding “under a bushel,” one of the GREATEST FUNCTIONAL FOOD FEATURES—Lamb could/should become THE RED MEAT HEALTH FOOD!”

Time at the meeting was also spent discussing options for promoting Finns through advertising and sales. It was acknowledged that breeders not having personal experience with a Finnsheep or Finn-cross may be reluctant to introduce a purebred or crossbred Finn to their flock. Fear of multiple births can be powerful! Finnsheep breeders can address this concern by sharing management techniques, but also by providing the F-1 cross ram. Dr. Parker challenged the members of the Finnsheep Breeders Association to highlight the Finns’ quality genetics: prolificacy. “The epic era of Finns has yet to be!”

2016 - Brian Magee

Downloadabe pdf

Brian Magee, Outstanding Shepherd
by Mary O’Malley
Reprinted with permission of
THE BANNER Sheep Magazine vol. 39 No. 6 July/August 2016
Few of us know what our life’s work will be at a young age, but for Brian Magee the path was
set when at age 6 or 7, he received orphan lambs from his veterinarian neighbor. Assuming
responsibility for the lambs, Brian developed the skills that would lay the foundation for a
lifelong career as an animal scien- tist, shepherd and teacher. In addition to receiving the lambs,
Brian was given a subscription to THE SHEPHERD magazine which he devoured. He readily
applied the knowledge he gleaned from reading articles to the practical art of raising sheep.
Magee’s initial shepherding experience was in Colorado, but his family returned to their native
Ohio by the time he was in high school. He continued his interest in raising sheep as well as
other livestock and was active in 4-H. After high school he attended Wilmington College in
Ohio, majoring in chemistry and biology.
After working in Maryland in soybean research, Magee and his bride applied to the Peace Corps
and were sent to Ecuador. Here, in the land of the equator, where the length of days is 12-14
hours, Brian observed that the native sheep bred year round, in as short as a 7 month lambing
interval. This was quite different than the yearly cycle of breeding in the fall and lambing in the
spring, typical of the United States and northern Europe. Observing this pattern gave Magee the
confidence to develop what would eventually become known as the STAR system
Returning to the US after his time in the Peace Corp, Magee landed a job at the U.S. Sheep
Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. His primary responsibilities lay in research of coyote
predation of sheep. During this time, he further developed his understanding of accelerated
lambing with Polypay sheep and learned the concerns of farmers and shepherds on the western
range.
In 1978 Magee completed a Master’s Degree and accepted a position at Cornell University as
Sheep Superintendent and Sheep Extensionist for New York State. Here, in collaboration with
Professor Doug Hogue, he designed the Star System of lamb production. Magee’s colleagues
were at first skeptical of in- creasing the frequency of lambing, as most American and European
breeds of sheep are bred once a year, during the fall, to lamb in the spring. However, an increase
in production is an asset to the financial stability of the shepherd and the consistent availability
of lamb to discerning clients
Magee and Hogue found that in addition to increasing frequency of yearly lamb production with
7.2 or 9.7 monthly intervals, the Cornell Dorsets combined with Finnsheep increased accelerated
lambing to nearly 300%. Ewes come in to heat based on the fading light pattern in the fall.
However there are some primitive breeds like Finnsheep, native to Finland that are known for
fertility and producing “off-season”. The chance discovery of an outstanding Dorset ram whose
daughters lambed consistently at 7-month intervals and the observation that the ram’s scrotal

circumference increased slightly during the spring made this phenotypic measurement a selective
parameter on the sire side for Dorsets and Finnsheep.
Through colleagues at Penn State Magee learned of a ram with an unusually high fertility. By
studying this and other rams, the realization that the size of the testes impacts fertility was added
to the mix.
Brian Magee, Outstanding Shepherd, continued
In addition, the daughters of the ram with an increased testes size showed an increase in fertility.
This knowledge combined with his South American sheep observations and awareness of
Finnsheep and their natural off season breeding encouraged Magee to continue to study an
increased lambing frequency and develop the STAR system. If you have access to the internet

you can learn more about the STAR system at this website: http://sheep.cornell.edu/cornell-star-
accelerated-lambing-management-video/

In May, 2016 The Finnsheep Breeders Association inducted Brian into the Finnsheep Hall of
Fame at their annual meeting held in Wooster, Ohio. The award was in recognition of all that
Magee has accom- plished as an outstanding shepherd, breeder and promoter of Finnsheep.
While Magee is perhaps best known for the STAR system of accelerated lamb production, he
also developed an effective method to address foot rot and was instrumental in tackling Ovine
Progressive Pneumonia when it infected the Cor- nell flock. According to the OPP society, “
when Cornell’s Finns and his own flock were found to be infected with the OPP virus, Brian’s
writings made their way into the popular press, generating a great deal of respect for one of the
first breeds to openly tackle OPP”. (1)
For breeders of purebred Finnsheep and members of the Finnsheep Breeders Association, his
clarity and understanding of inbreeding vs. outbreeding helped the organization maintain the
integrity of the breed when the proposal to re-open the flock books was presented in 2011. He
pointed to the depressive effect on prolificacy that outbreeding had had on 1⁄2 Finn 1⁄2 Dorset
research flocks at Cornell University in the early 1980s. In the late 1970s, the Finnsheep
Breeders Association had still allowed “upbreeding”, the introduction of another parent line into
the breed. When a sheep reached 15/16s Finn, they were allowed to be registered as purebred
Finnsheep. This subtle shift in parentage resulted in a significantly lower lamb crop. The 1⁄2 Finn
1⁄2 Dorset flock produced a 197% lamb crop as opposed to the average 260% lamb crop for
Dorset and Finnsheep.
In the 1980s Finnsheep breeders worked hard to recover the unique genetic traits of the
Finnsheep by al- lowing registration of only the traditional short tail lamb and by strongly
encouraging registration of lambs only from mature ewes who gave birth to four or more lambs
annually and raised three lambs or more without supplemental milk. A careful breeding program,
where the sheep with best conformity are selected for breeding and lambs with negative
recessive traits as well as their parents are sent to market can greatly reduce the undesirable traits
and strengthen the foundation flock. This careful breeding al- lowed the Finnsheep Breeders
Association to maintain the unique genetic traits of the purebred Finnsheep that support
prolificacy and other strong maternal traits. (2)

Though Magee retired from Cornell in 2009, he has not retired from shepherding. He implements
the STAR system on his own flock of Finn/Dorset crossbred sheep, providing whole carcass
lamb year round to a culinary institute. His Finn/Dorset crossbreds produce the carcass size and
fat content desired by chefs. He can be found at community events demonstrating shearing for
the public. Soft spoken, with a dry wit and keen intellect, Magee is well known in sheep circles
and well thought of by all who have had the good fortune to “talk sheep” with him.
(1) OPP Concerned Sheep Breeders Society Newsletter. April 2011
(2) Inbreeding vs Outbreeding The Banner Sheep Magazine, vol. 36 No. 6 July/August 2013,
this can be found on our website: www.finnsheep.org under “Finnsheep in Print”