Initially we maintained up to 450 commercial crossbred ewes, producing meat lambs for the local processing plant. Our interests always involved the economic viability of the sheep industry and production of improved carcasses, to meet the needs of modern consumers. In 1988, when 3 new sheep breeds were released by the government of Canada, we applied for foundation flocks of Rideau and Canadian Arcotts. The former because of higher lamb and milk production and the latter to improve the rate of lean meat gain.

As an additional benefit, these foundation sheep from Ottawa had been derived by hysterectomy and maintained in closed facilities with very strict biosecurity precautions. In order to optimize this advantage we dispersed our previous flock, disinfected the premises and left them vacant for 8 months. The new animals were sent to us in disinfected trucks, isolated from other small ruminants. Therefore our new flock was essentially "disease free".

To maintain this benefit, we purchased 21 rams and 109 ewes between the two breeds. We decided that with this number of unrelated sire lines, there would be no necessity to introduce new genetics for as long as required. The farm is operated using all practical biosecurity precautions:

  • No small ruminants enter
  • Our sheep do not return after they have left the property
  • Visitors are required to wear our footwear and coveralls
  • Our vehicles, clothing and boots are changed and/or disinfected whenever we deliver sheep or lambs to abattoirs or other sites where small ruminants may have been.

In 1993 we imported our first external genetic material from Switzerland. The North American sheep dairy industry was expanding and with no pure Friesians available, Rideau ewes (14% Friesian), bred to Friesian semen, produced 57% Friesians, which could improve milk yields by a factor of 3 or 4. Domestic ewes @ 80 litres compared with 57% Friesians @ 200 - 500 litres/year. In 1994 we introduced Charollais and Friesian embryos from the U.K. and in 1996, the first purebred Ile de France sheep in North America were born here. Since 1997 no more embryos were imported but we have increased our gene pool with Charollais, Ile de France. Canadian, Rideau and Friesian semen. Within the strict import health protocol set by the Canadian Government, we shall continue to augment and improve the genetics of our purebred Charollais and Ile de France flocks by purchasing semen from high performance sires in Europe.

For the past 10 years we have successfully exported genetics to the U.S. and Mexico as well as marketing across Canada. Our objectives are to maintain our high health status and continue to make genetic improvements so that our customers can become more profitable, and market superior quality products to consumers of lamb. Our flock has achieved 4years at Level "A" on the Western Canadian Flock Health Program and our Charollais, Ile de France and Rideau are associated with Sire Referencing performance testing programs.


Medicine Ridge F
arm website:

Phone: (403) 748-2624 • Fax: (403) 748-2667

Ian & Deb Clark, Box 491, Bentley, Alberta, Canada, T0C 0J0