The JCC Polypay Sheep Flock

John and Colleen Carlson Family

            While sheep production was a part of John’s childhood and also by Colleen’s family in the late 1970’s, the JCC Sheep flock began in 1979 with the purchase of three Suffolk ewes.  Yes, I said Suffolk ewes.  The plan was to have a sheep flock that our children – Mark, Paul, Michael and Mary Ann -- could participate in as they grew up and learn about the care of animals, responsibility, nutrition, reproduction and work skills.  Both John and Colleen were avid 4-H’ers in their youth and they hoped to someday have children that would also be involved in 4-H projects, including sheep.  As Suffolks were the important breed in the showring at that time, they were selected for the 4-H project.  As John has a Ph. D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics from Iowa State University, registered animals were chosen with the goal of producing top seedstock for the breed.Years have passed and the back porch wall is now filled with ribbons and in the house are numerous plaques and silver trays for sheep placings, judging awards and showmanship. Paul also won a state award for Leadership with a trip to Atlanta.
            Over the years, in addition to 4-H shows, the flock actively participated in the Illinois Ram Test, as well as the showring.  The type of lambs we produced did very well in production tests with the commercial sheep industry in mind, as evidenced by Illinois ram test results and also by high placings in the Illinois Premiere Lamb Contest, in which lambs are placed on a combination of growth and carcass merit. Commercial producers have been a great market for JCC Suffolk rams, with rams selling into seven states.  The record price at the Illinois Ram Test was held for many years by JCC Suffolks.  However, many producers, after purchasing two or three Suffolks rams, often asked where they could purchase a good white-faced ram to regain some of the heterosis from crossbreeding.  After sending numerous buyers to various Polypay breeders, and of hearing of the good results from crossing Suffolks and Polypays, the decision was made to include Polypays into the JCC sheep flock.  We are currently in the process of downsizing our Suffolk flock and increasing the size of the Polypay flock.
            The first Polypays selected were two ewes from 4-Corners Polypays and two ewes from Diamond S Polypays, as well as a ram from 4-Corners.  One of the ewes purchased from Diamond S Polypays, Diamond S 263, is the foundation ewe of JCC Polypays – all ewes currently in the flock trace back to this ewe through two of her daughters that were born twins to each other – JCC 411 and JCC 412.  Subsequent rams were purchased of Diamond S Polypays genetics until the flock was dispersed.  A ram bred by JCC Polypays, JCC803 was then used due to his high EPD values and the desire to keep the Diamond S genetics intact.  An outcross ram, Sheeder SPP47 was then purchased at the National Sale in 1999.  This ram was the result of the grading up program put in place by the Jim Sheeder flock.  Sheeder SPP47 maintained the genetic performance of the Diamond S line while increasing the frame size and correctness of the flock.  Another Sheeder ram, SPP15, was purchased at the 2001 National Sale, where he was the Champion Fall born ram.  While SPP15 did not greatly increase the genetic performance levels of the flock, his lambs were some of the most correct and eye-appealing lambs of the breed. 
            With the increased interest by purebred and commercial producers in EPD’s, the Sheeder rams were followed by WC203 “Stacked”, a ram bred by Jerry and Mary Sorenson of West Cyclone Farms.  We purchased half interest in this ram, using him for January-March lambs, while West Cyclone farms had him for breeding for the rest of the year.  Stacked’s lambs maintained the correctness of the Sheeder base and brought back some of the Diamond S performance.  The EPD values of the flock increased with the use of Stacked and the genetic ties to other flocks increased as well, which increased the accuracy of the EPD estimates.  As numerous Stacked daughters were retained for the flock, he was used for only two years, but left a son in the flock, JCC 20601, that was used to produced the 2007 flock.  Linebreeding to JCC 20601 tightened the genetics of the flock without greatly increasing the inbreeding values, creating a more uniform flock.  Due to a health problem, however, we were only able to use JCC 20601 for one year.  In consulting with Jerry Sorenson about the various bloodlines in the breed and rams available, Jerry suggested we purchase 2/3 of “Albert”, WC516.  Albert had sired the top selling ram at the Center of the Nation Sale the previous August, selling to the Don Drewry flock.  Albert also brought back some of the Diamond S and 4-Corner genetics that serve as our foundation.  We were very honored to be able to purchase Albert and the fortunes of the flock have been greatly boosted.  Because his daughters' EPD levels are significantly higher than those of the older females in the flock, we retained most of his daughters.  
            Since then, we have used two rams from the University of Wisconsin, one of whom we purchased at the Illinois ram test.  He was an awesome looking ram and had a good pedigree, being sired by the Champion NSIP ram at the 2008 sale and dammed by the 2009 national champion ewe.  His genetics had a profound positive effect on the flock.  Since then we have used a couple of rams from Larry Bremer that have done a good job for us, plus we were able to obtain Woodhill PA0210 whose milk values turned our flock around by greatly increasing the maternal weaning weights in our ewes.  For 2018, we will be using a top ram from Bill Hardiman of Colorado, plus a home-raised son of JCC 437 – JCC 617.  The 617 ram is the #1 indexing ram in the breed and his sire is #4 – consistent, proven genetics.  We hope that you will be among the increasing number of breeders nationwide to include profitable JCC Polypay genetics in your flock. 

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