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Suderman breeds lambs for youth competitions

Contributing writer

Jerry Suderman turned his machine shed into a sale barn Saturday as dozens of 4-H and FFA families flocked to his farm near 140th and Kanza Rds. to buy lambs for youth to show in livestock competitions.

Children and parents from throughout the region could be overheard whispering numbers of animals they liked and discussing the good and bad points of each animal.

“I got started working with sheep when I was a freshman in high school,” Suderman said.

Suderman graduated from Hillsboro High School and has, for the past 35 years, bred “club lambs,” which 4-H and FFA members raise and enter into fairs.

He used to join with other breeders to sell his lambs at an auction in Yates Center. For the past three years, he has converted his farm into his own sale site.

He sold 48 lambs Saturday and more are likely to be sold later, he said. His base price was $200 per lamb, but one sold for as high as $1,100.

Trucks and trailers from Marion, Harvey, and Sedgwick counties could be seen at his farm, but Suderman also sells outside of the local area.

“We’ve sold them from California to Florida and from Ohio to Texas,” he said.

Buyers tend to look for animals with good bone structure that allows room for growth and muscle.

“You can add muscle, but you cannot correct structure,” one prospective buyer said. “You look at their cannon bone and check their butterfly twist. You want one with a long loin and long rack.”

All 100 ewes in Suderman’s flock are intended to produce show lambs, but only 75 to 80 make the cut, he said. The rest are sold as commercial lambs.

For several years, Suderman has been collaborating with Mike LaRosh, senior technical services expert at Bayer Animal Health in Kansas City.

“He is very intelligent and has been essential to our program,” Suderman said.

Suderman raises Hampshire, Suffolk, Natural, and crossbred lambs. Also at the sale were Speckled and Dorsets raised by Micki Watson, who lives with Suderman.

Suderman, Watson and her children provided prospective buyers complimentary burgers, brats, and Sloppy Joes while they considered which lambs to bid on Saturday.

Suderman and Watson’s lambs have won at the Kansas Junior Livestock Show, the Missouri State Fair, and many regional shows.

Each May, kids who purchase breeding and market lambs from the Suderman may compete for $2,000 in prize money in a show open only to those who purchase the lambs from him and nine other breeders who sponsor the show.

Last modified April 9, 2015

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