Rainbow Meadow Farms
1065 Lloyd Harrison Rd.
Snow Hill, NC 28580

(252) 523-0298
(252) 747-5000

A rich heritage and modern farming methods meet at Rainbow Meadow Farms.  Quality Dorpers for progressive shepherds - we offer unbeatable performance!


Our Heritage

Rainbow Meadow Farms is located in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. The farm has been in our family since 1746 raising tobacco, corn, soybeans, cows, chickens, and, starting in 1996, Dorper sheep.

Very little money was being made on row crops, so we turned most of our two farms into pasture land and now utilize MIG practices. As we look out the kitchen window and see the sheep grazing in the pasture, we never regret that decision! We feel that raising Dorper and Katahdin sheep will be what helps us to keep the family farm profitable for the next generation.

Dorpers at Rainbow Meadow Farms

Besides the development of the Rainbow Meadow Farms Dorper stud, our goal is to increase our pasture land to enable us to run 500 head of Katahdin and F1 Dorper/Katahdin ewes for market lamb production, using Dorper and White Dorper rams as terminal sires. There is a great ethnic and fine restaurant market on the east coast of the United States desiring those 70-90 lb lambs.

Eastern North Carolina family farms are struggling, with commodity prices for grains at an all time low and with tobacco poundage being cut every year. There is a strong need for farmers to be able to produce a product at a profit. We feel that the answer for some of these farmers could be raising market lambs for the ethnic and fine restaurant market that is already in place.

In our opinion the Dorper has the capacity to play a vital part in supplying that market due to the breed's ability for fast, early growth on grass and milk therefore requiring less capital outlay per lamb crop produced thus increasing one's net profit. We are working on a grass roots project that we hope will enable us to direct market our lambs as well as encourage other struggling family farmers in our area to raise Dorper crossbred lambs for this specialty market.


Our Management Practices

The Dorper breed was developed for the arid regions of South Africa but has proven that it is adaptable to many conditions throughout the world. The rams are known to be early maturing and can breed as early as 100 days. I have personally seen them being used for breeding purposes at 5 months on select ewes. Dorpers are known to have an extended breeding season, so three lamb crops in two years is possible. They have a high fecundity and multiple births are the norm. In South Africa, under intensive conditions, Dorpers are consistently producing 150-180% lamb crop. On our farm, where there is a much better quality of grazing, we are getting 200% lamb crop after the first lambing.

We like to lamb in two groups starting in October and going through February. We have our best grazing that time of year with Matua bromegrass and ryegrass/rye/oats pasture mix. By lambing this time of year we don't have as many parasite problems in our young lambs.

Dorpers have the capability to breed year round and we have done that in the past and perhaps will again in the future. However our experience is that the hot, humid climate of eastern North Carolina summers (June, July and August) are not conducive to the fast early lamb growth that we would like to see. Therefore, at this time we have opted not to lamb during these months.

We rotate paddocks nearly daily and also rotate pastures. We also have about 60 head of cattle that we graze behind our sheep. Grazing the cattle behind the sheep helps to break the cycle and reduce the parasite load on our pastures.

One of our goals for selecting replacement ewes will be parasite resistance. Where we live in eastern North Carolina, Haemonchus contortus is our most formidable foe. We have to worm the young lambs every 30 days, but at around 5 months, we see the parasite resistance start to kick in our lambs.


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