Ultra High Stock Density Rotational Grazing and Grassfed Lamb – Feb 2015

Janet with Lambs

Janet McNally grew up on a hobby farm and got her love of animals and farming then which lead her to now become an excellent grass farmer using ultra high stock density rotational grazing.  She taught the lamb and wool program at Pine Technical College in the 80s and 90s, and raised sheep and beef cattle until the mid 2000's.

In 1987 Janet created the Tamarack and Tamarack Prolific Sheep to fulfill the need for a well muscled, easy care sheep that would thrive and be profitable in the farm flock pasture environment of the Midwestern and Eastern US. The Tamarack Prolific began with the introduction of the Booroola B gene for prolificacy into the polled Dorset and the Tamarack is an offshoot of this program. The resulting cross was then back crossed for many generations to polled Dorset and Ile de France rams to improve milk, growth, number of lambs weaned, and carcass quality.

The sheep were then segregated between those inheriting the Booroola gene and those that did not, then further selection using estimated breeding values (EBV's) further improved maternal weaning weight (milk), weaning weight, post weaning weight, loin eye muscle depth and numbers of lambs born and numbers of lambs weaned. Tamarack sheep do not have the Booroola B gene. Rigorous culling produced a sheep requiring less labor with higher lamb survival. The Tamarack sheep has found favor where grazing conditions are harsher and where lamb crops exceeding 210% are not desirable. Tamarack and Tamarack Prolific ewes have excellent mothering skills and Tamarack Prolific will wean from 240% to 320% lamb crop with ewes on a principally forage based diet. The Tamarack and Tamarack Prolific ewe enjoy a long breeding season and accelerated or out of season lambing is possible.

The Tamarack flock has been closed to new females since 1985. Rams are purchased with care and are quarantined and tested prior to being used in the flock. AI is used when possible. The flock has never had foot rot, foot scald, Q fever, B. Ovis, or Scrapie. No sheep has been suspected or diagnosed with jonnes. The Tamarack flock participated in a volunteer scrapie certification program and has been certified scrapie free since the Spring of 2007.

Janet's first encounter with wolves was in 1991, with a devastating experience in 1999 following a steep learning curve she implemented some management changes that keep the flock safe while grazing remote locations. These management changes have also led to improved soil and pasture vigor. Janet currently raises grass fed lamb in Hinckley, Minnesota and writes for Graze Magazine.

Most importantly the Tamarack flock is NOT feed animal based protein products, is NOT feed hormones or antibiotics and they do NOT use herbicides or pesticides on their land or animals. The ONLY prevention used with the Tamarack flock is Ultra High Stock Density Rotational Grazing (UHSDRG).

Janet M.

Ultra High Stock Density Grazing is the Key

The Tale of Two Pastures

Janet knew that ultra high stock density grazing was one of the keys to the success she has experienced but it became even more evident in the summer of 2006.  The summer had been very hot and drier than usual which of course does not bode well for grass growth.  Finally some long awaited rain came, 4" of it to be exact.

30 years of set stock grazing after 4" of rain

The neighbor across the fence has been employing set stock grazing for the last 30 years.  After the 4" of rain fell, this is what the neighbors pasture looked like.  You can see it was green but no growth had occurred.  This neighbor sold his cows during the drought because of the high cost of feeding hay in the summer.

Just 100 feet across the fence on Janet's side, the same 4 inches of rain had these results.  The primary difference in the two pastures is the ultra high stock density rotational grazing model.  In this model the type of grazing animal used is not what is important, it is the stocking rate of the grazing animals per acre.  Janet figures she runs 3.5 times more lbs of livestock per acre than the neighbor (up until 5 yrs ago, I am now understocked due to a change in land rental).

This is an excellent training with Janet McNally, I know you will benefit from it as much as we have. 


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