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South Dakota History

S.D. Statistics
South Dakota is the 6th largest sheep producing state; others of significance include Texas, California, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. In S.D. 4,000 plus farmers and ranchers raise sheep. About 425,000 lambs are born annually in South Dakota.  Lambs and wool generates more than $34 million dollars in annual Ag income. The three top sheep producing counties in S.D. are Butte, Harding and Perkins. This has been the case from the earliest records in 1924 to the year 1973 when county statistics were abandoned. The leader, Butte County, has never been in second place.

Early South Dakota History;

According to geologists, some S.D. rocks are over a billion years old. Further, findings clearly suggest South Dakota early ancestry can be traced back to Asia.  Dig sites in the Black Hills and the Cave Hills area of Harding County indicate dwellers lived there as early as 3000 B. C. to 500 B.C.

In 1743  the Verendry Expedition stopped in the Ft. Pierre area.  These people are believed to be the first "white men" to arrive.  As explores, they claimed the area for King Louis XV of France.

In 1785 history notes that Pierre Dorion married a Yankton Dakota women and lived near Yankton. He is believed to be the first "non-Indian" to truly have lived in what is now South Dakota.

In 1801 Registre Louise built the first trading post near Pierre.  Two years later, 1803 is remembered for the Louisiana Territory purchase,  a significant moment in our small, new countries growth .

 The very next August, the 26th day of 1804 to be exact, the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped by Spirit Mound, just north of present day Vermillion S.D.

Another event of note was in 1861 when the Dakota Territory was established.  It remained a territory until 1889, twenty eight years later when South Dakota became the 39th state of the Union.

Shepherd Roegiers History;

Certainly much more could be said about South Dakota in general but  instead let me tell you a little about the history of the Roegiers as sheep people. We started in 1972 with the purchase of 10 older ewes from Leo Kyte, mayor of Burbank. The following year we bought 12 registered suffolk ewes that were bred.  We immersed ourselves and especially the kids, Chuck,Leigh Ann, and Dawn in 4H  where we learned to bathe, brush and "tame down" as well as groom the sheep to be shown at the fair. These "lawn mowers" (shepherd  talk for sheep) served us well and we all learned much. Some years we showed as many as 26 head at the Fair.

In 1987 the "black faced" Suffolk sheep (raised for meat) were introduced to some "white faced" friends when we acquired six Rambouillet/ Targee crossbred ewes who we later bred to a Polypay ram. The sheep industry differientiates between the "meat breeds, and the "wool breeds."This is an important factor when buying wool to wear as clothing.

In 1990 three years later, we bought 10 pure bred "white faced" Corriedale ewes (raised for wool) which improved our grade of wool, plus, they would produce 12 to 16 pounds of wool to sell each year.

Lambing begins 145 days or so after the ram (the male sheep) is put in with the ewes. If the Ram goes in late August or so, lambs begin to show up in February/March. Birth weight for a lamb is normally between 5 and 12 lbs.  Extreme weights would be 2 to 3 lbs and sometimes 16 lbs for a big single birth.  Weaning (taking away from the mother) happens  between 30 and 60 days, depending on the shepherd's situation and feeding strategy. The lamb is ready for market at 115 to 130 lbs.  This weight could take between four and six months generally.

We eat a lot of lamb and love it.  Well, thanks again for coming to our site and here's some good advice, "Don't let anyone pull the wool over your eyes".