NORWOOD — A Peterborough area sheep farm, with a niche market in genetics, is the latest recipient of the Ontario Sheep Pasture Award for their expertise in pasture management for their flock of 800.
The farm, the Asphodel Sheep Company uses rotational grazing with solar powered electrical fencing and year round pasture to improve their flock and the environment.
“It’s nice to be recognized for what you’re doing”, according to owner Todd Payne who along with his wife, Jennifer bought the farm and flock in 2015. They had worked on the farm with the previous owner before taking it over.
The Paynes have about 500 acres spread over the two farms they own and the four they rent. The Paynes have made the best with what they have to work with. “Where we’re located, a lot of the land is not great for cropping, but there’s value in it for grazing,” Payne said. It seems to be working as the bread and butter of the operation is its genetics. “Last year, we were coast-to-coast sending genetics from Salmon Arm, BC to PEI. There’s no lack of orders with interest as far as 2025.”
They’re not your typical farm. “Selling meat and wool isn’t in our business model,” Payne says. “We prefer to do a few things and do them excellently.”
Cost wise it makes sense to use the land for grazing. “It makes for pretty cheap feeding in the summertime.” Grazing is just one source of nutrition for the sheep as they are also given “total mixed ration” to get maximum performance from the animals.
Rotational grazing allows Payne to move dry ewes on the rough pasture, using a solar powered electrical fence to keep them contained. He moves a portable 1,500-gallon tank on a trailer to the area for water for the animals which means all of the land can be utilized. The tillable land is primarily for the replacement lambs.
For their efforts, the Ontario Sheep Pasture Award garners the Paynes $250 and a 25 kilogram bag of forage seed courtesy of Mapleseed, the Ontario Forage Association and the Ontario Sheep Association.