Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

Once more, curtesy of the The Yarn Store at Nob Hill newsletter:

Sheep in New Mexico, Part 3

What does the future hold?

by Karen Christensen

Numbers of sheep in New Mexico have gone from 5 million in 1880 to 900,000 in 1964 to 90,000 in 2012. Goodness, why such a dramatic drop!
Many factors have contributed to the decline of sheep in the state with drought and predators such as coyotes and bobcats being the major ones.
Droughts have been the largest detriment in increasing the sheep population in the state – without rain we do not have the grass the animals need to graze on to thrive and produce.
In recent years there have been several successful attempts to bring sheep and the wool industry back to New Mexico. Ranchers and farmers are learning or relearning new techniques to increase their flocks.
Ranchers and farmers are having to acclimate their breeds to our climate and landscape. Shepherds have found that Rambouillet and the Navajo-Churro do well in our state.

The Rambouillet are excellent wool producers and tend to flock naturally allowing for better flock management in mountain terrains. Rambouillet are often crossbred with the Corriedale and Lincoln breeds which produces Targhee wool – will Brooklyn Tweed be sourcing wool from New Mexico soon? Navajo-Churro, as discussed in the previous articles, have been brought back from almost extinction and their wool is primarily used by the Navajos in their traditional rugs and wares.
Many ranchers and farmers in New Mexico are using open range techniques to overcome the drought conditions in the state. Flocks are moved from pastures to mountain ranges during various times of the year to enable the animals to thrive.
Predators have had an impact on increasing the population of sheep in the state. Fencing was the most popular technique in keeping predators away from the flocks. When the wool industry declined in New Mexico, many miles/acres of fencing went into disrepair. Shepherds are now repairing miles and miles fences, a backbreaking and relentless job to keep those predators away from their flocks.
Flocks are slowly increasing with these new methods, and we as a community must support these family ranches and farms. There are many in our area. Let's support them and support our state's economy.

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