Bruce and Karla Gunderman of Westbrook, Minnesota run a sheep enterprise with 909 employees, and every one of them is expected to meet certain production goals — but they aren’t two-legged employees. They’re ewes.
“I see every ewe as one of my employees,” Karla states. “Each ewe works for us. If she’s not producing lambs that meet our criteria, she is replaced in the flock.”
The performance-oriented Gundermans are numbers people. “The more we know about our lamb, the better for us and Superior Farms,” Karla says. “Our goal is to produce lamb that works for our packer and our consumer.”
Bruce and Karla are the first to admit that they haven’t always been numbers people. In fact, when they entered the sheep business 20 years ago with the purchase of 25 ewes from a sale barn, they found themselves learning via the school of hard knocks. That first year, they learned that all ewes are not equal.
The Gunderman’s provide comfortable shelter for their flock. Bruce says, “We built our first hoop barn ourselves back in ’02, adding a hoop barn every two years. They work great for us as they keep the cold out during our winters, provide shade in the summer, have good circulation and let us haul feed inside to the sheep.”