Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
Cameron Lauwers is a first generation sheep producer and fourth generation farmer from Capac, Michigan who runs 600 ewes in a mostly housed accelerated lambing system. This pursuit is fairly new for his family. Originally, they were a dairy farm. Cameron’s Father, Uncle, and Grandfather implemented a successful farm succession plan by selling out of the dairy business in the 1980s, entering the cash crop market in the next generation, and diversifying into hay, baleage, straw, and now lamb. Cameron is the shepherd and his father Mike is the hay man.
Studies at Michigan State University peaked Cameron’s interest in livestock, particularly sheep. In 2012, he joined the family farm operation introducing a successful diversified product to their offerings- Lauwers Lamb. With roughly a thousand sheep on the farm today, his role as a shepherd has proven to be a great fit. He strives to provide fresh lamb year-round and quality lamb on demand. That is a goal made possible through accelerated lambing. Baby lambs are always in season on the farm, which makes fresh and finished lamb available any day of the year.
With the experience and knowledge of feeding dairy cattle, accelerated lambing in a housed system makes perfect sense and fits the farm’s structure. An insulated lambing barn with allocated zones and high quality forage available all year promote the bond between a ewe and her lambs, vigorous growth, reduced animal stress, and a consistent finished product for consumers.
To learn more about Cameron Lauwers’ successful transition into the family business and outside of the box thinking about sheep management, make plans to attend the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium this December. The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association is pleased host Mr. Lauwers as featured speaker on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14 at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, OH.
The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association will also welcome a social media sensation- Sandi Brock of “Sheepishly Me.” to the 2019 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. Sandi will share about her adventures in sheep farming, vlogging, and implementing a management intensive and rewarding sheep enterprise on both days.
Additional guests at the symposium include: Dr. Luciana da Costa, DVM and Assistant Professor of the OSU Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicines who will be sharing her expertise on mammary health and mastitis and passion for small ruminants; Dr. John Foltz, OSU Animal Science Department Chair to share about ongoing sheep research at The Ohio State University; and Lee Fitzsimmons, a farm financial officer for Wayne Savings Community Bank to provide tips on working with your ag lender for success.
The symposium will also offer a special event for shepherds ages 18 to 40 through the Young Shepherd’s Assembly on Friday evening, December 13 at JAFB Wooster Brewery (120 Beall Ave.Wooster, OH 44691) from 6-9 p.m. These young shepherds will join the past association presidents for a lamb dinner, social networking, and discussion about the public’s perception and influence on agriculture in the past and present. Guests- Cameron Lauwers and Sandi Brock will also join the discussion panel.
Young shepherds ages 6 and up are invited to a youth program on Saturday, December 14 at the Shisler Conference Center during the symposium. This year’s topics include feed rations, meat cuts, understanding & managing your wool, and a community service project. The goal is to help present topics important to the sheep industry in a hands-on manner, thereby helping to grow the future the Ohio sheep industry. The activities within the youth program will be aligned with the symposium’s breakout sessions, to provide older youth with an opportunity to attend topics of their choice within the symposium.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. Shepherds of all ages, sectors, and regions are invited to attend the symposium to celebrate, connect with other shepherds, and to continue learning together.