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provisional; it’s a dress rehearsal,” Brother Joseph says. All in all, the monk’s sheep are proving to be good performers for Oklahoman ranchers.

The Hairless Hair Sheep

According to Brother Joseph, Katahdin sheep can withstand heat, survive cold and are highly resistant to parasites and worms, which he claims is the number one problem for sheep in the Deep South.

“They’re not very cosmetic when you see them, but one live sheep is worth two excellent dead ones,” Brother Jo- seph says.

The particular breed of Katahdin is a cross between a Gulf Coast and a Florida Native, which yields a hardy breed of worm-resistant sheep. Over the past 10 years, Brother Joseph has gone from worming all the sheep fi ve times a year to not worming at all. “It’s really neat and incredibly prudent considering hardly any of the chemicals work any more as the sheep develop immunity to the products ranchers use,” Broth- er Joseph says.

Katahdin sheep come from the Caribbean and Gulf Coast areas. They are a hybrid breed of hair sheep, which is ironic because the breed is hairless. According to Brother Joseph, the animals shed their wool like dogs shed their fur.

Many animal owners may baulk at the idea of remov- ing the profi table aspect of a wool sheep; however, as Brother Joseph explains, the price of wool no longer cov- ers the cost of shearing.

“This permits people to have sheep without having to shear them,” Brother Joseph says. “If you take a step back, you can see that anyone can raise hair sheep.” He says landowners can have 20-30 sheep on a ranch- ette or a family can raise a small fl ock of Katahdin with- out having to purchase a cattle corral or horses. “For a small acreage, they’re fun and easy to take care of; it’s not like having to mess around with a 2,000 pound bull,” he says.

“There’s been a lot of requests at the extension offi ces

from people who are retiring and moving back onto land and want to know what to do with it,” Brother Joseph says. “So many have 20 acres and think they’ll get 100 cows, but the reality is they’ll only be able to fi t two.” That’s why the monk suggests letting sheep work the land. One of the major benefi ts of having sheep is the natural land management services they provide. “They’re four-legged mowers that take care and main- tain your domain,” Brother Joseph says. Now that the monk has discovered a way to raise sheep without having to use any pesticides, these benefi ts are a feasible reality. However, he has developed several tech- niques in order to be successful with the sheep, the fi rst of which is to fi nd a few good dogs.

In his opinion, the Pyrenees is the perfect guard dog to watch over a fl ock of sheep. The dog stays close to the fl ock at all times and protects the sheep against preda- tors. Border Collies are also used to move sheep from place to place. According to Brother Joseph, these dogs can understand more than 60 commands. “They’ll do the work for you literally by a wink of your eye and a wiggle of your fi nger,” Brother Joseph says. “They bond directly to a master and do an extreme amount of work; it’s absolutely stunning.” He has found that the dogs need to be trained with a whistle. Like many animal owners, Brother Joseph does not have time to train puppies to learn the technique, so he recommends buying pups that are already trained to whistle commands.

Continued on Page 18 SEPTEMBER 2011 17

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27

Photos by Hayley Imel and Grant Leatherwood

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