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"The sheep have been probably the best profit makers in the last five years because of the declining numbers. And they have – Raymond has done very well in breeding the genetics in them so we have good numbers. But it does take dedication. I mean, you just can't say, 'Okay, sheep, have your lambs. We'll see them later.' Sheep don't like that. They want your devotion…
     "Well the genetics with sheep are – you want a good body confirmation so that there's a good carcass that they make the packer some good cuts. He doesn't want something that's all 'scroungey' and small. And when he gets a carcass that doesn't have any value. So, you go for the leg structure, the wide backs, the length of carcass, and so forth. And then you – with sheep we've pushed a little bit of the genetics on plural [or] multiple births. And we've gone probably from a lambing rate of 130 percent to at least 190 percent."
     Question: "So most of the ewes that you have are producing two lambs."
     "Two lambs, yeah. And those that have singles (outside of the yearlings) then usually if one has a single – probably the next day somebody will have three and you'll balance out. That's the drop [the number of lambs that are born]. Now, you're not going to raise every one of them to market. But it still takes – it still goes back to management."
     Question: "What is the market? For your sheep, it's the meat market."
     "Yeah, the slaughter market. Raymond is connected with a broker out of Kansas that sells sheep to different packing houses. And with the Muslim population and the Jewish population, that's their favorite meat. So, he [the packer] buys our lambs. We'll usually put them right on the semi, and they go to these areas. And they keep saying, 'Bring us more.'"
     Question: "It sounds like the business is very heavily driven by the needs of the consumers."
     "Yeah. You would be smart if you'd look at that. You've got to produce a product that somebody wants, otherwise you're not going to be in business for very long."

Beulah Gocke – Raising Sheep

   

Other Excerpts from Beulah Gocke’s Interview:

Baby Boomers
Cold War Close to Home
Why Not Leave Farming?
Rural Hicks on TV
Adopting New Technology
Truck Farming
Keeping Up with Chemistry
Droughts in the 50s
Omaha Stockyards