Cox Dorset Ranch
History of my Registered Dorset Flock
My first year in FFA was 1969. I started with a Hamp X market lamb. I showed this lamb at the San Bernardino County Fair in 1970. That was the start of my sheep projects in FFA.
My very first Registered Dorset Ram. This ram was bred by Allen Gillespie. He was shown by Terry Maddux at the Los Angels County Fair in 1971.
My first lamb out of my new ram in 1972
My First Champion Ewe lamb bred by me in 1973,
As you can see from the pictures above I have been raising sheep for a few years. I also showed beef and dairy cattle while a member of Victor Valley FFA.
I started by taking my first agriculture class in 1969 and learned about FFA as a freshman at Victor Valley High School. I found my calling in high school as part of FFA as it was absolutely wonderful for me. I knew very little about agriculture or the FFA when I took my first class. I grew up all over the world as my father was in the USAF. When my father finally retired from the military we were home in the USA in Southern California for the first time in 8 years. My parents were very supportive as I started my enrollment into agriculture classes at Victor Valley FFA. Even though we lived in the middle of town, I was blessed to find other FFA students that would allow me to keep my animals at their ranches in Victorville. This allowed me to show sheep, beef and dairy livestock over my four years in high school. All of this allowed me to receive the California State Farmer Degree in 1972 as a junior in High School at Victor Valley.
I started by showing my first market lamb in 1970 at the San Bernardino County Fair. My agriculture teacher told me that I could only buy Dorset sheep for my breeding project. He did not want me to raise Suffolk or Hampshire sheep. He explained to me that Polled Dorset was the breed of the future. He found an auction at the Cow Palace in 1971 and I purchased my first two Dorset Ewe lambs from Bruce Campbell of Sonoma County. One of the ewes went on to be Champion ewe at San Bernardino County Fair and Los Angeles County Fair as a fall ewe lamb in 1971 and 1972. From that moment on I was hooked on the Dorset breed of sheep.
I was encouraged while a Senior in high school to keep my Dorset sheep flock by Steve Dorfman, one of my mentors. He was trying to talk me into going to Chico State at the same time. I took both suggestions, and went to Chico State, taking a small flock of 40 Dorset ewes with me. I will always be grateful for the leadership and direction that Steve provided me while I was in high school and college at Chico State.
While in college I showed my Dorset sheep in open division for all four years. It was great to learn about breeding sheep from many of the wonderful breeders in California while showing sheep on the northern California show circuit. So many were willing to tell me the art of breeding sheep and shared their knowledge generously. The following breeders taught me much: Glenn, Terry, Harry & Jan Maddux, Wes & Jane Patton, Glenn Ediman, Steve Dorfman, Spilman Collins, Vern Hoffman, Sexton Ranch and all the great Dorset breeder in Northern California such as Harlen Wagner, Bruce Campbell, Allen Gillespie, Ken Ghiselin, and John Lynn.
In 1975 at the Santa Rosa fair Dan Wilkson and I came up with the idea of having a California Dorset Club to promote Dorsets to the fairs and the youth of California. I started writing a letter to all the breeders in California, and we had our first meeting at the Cow Palace in 1975 with over 25 Dorset breeders. The purpose of the Dorset Club was to let other breeders know about Dorsets in California and to get our own classes at the Fairs in California. Today the Club works at supporting young people in showing Dorset sheep. It is important to the future of Dorsets and the sheep industry for Dorset breeders to be involved in promoting an interest in agriculture to our youth.
Local sheep breeders were very interested in buying replacement ewes and rams from me for their small flocks. I would sell market lambs and breeding Dorset's over the years to FFA and 4H students. However, since the change of the Dorset breed to larger framed and taller sheep I elected not to become a breeder of big framed Dorset's as I still wanted to maintain my flock as more mainstream. I carefully chose sheep that would be long, deep-sided and square-footed. I also selected from my Dorset's that they lamb in the fall with twins.
I am moving my flock to club lambs at this point in our history to be able to sell solid lambs that will do well in the show ring. I still want sheep that are long from the last rib to the hook with plenty of loin eye. I want my ewes to be big footed with great bone. I believe that ewes should be very long bodied so that they have the ability to carry twins. Our ewe flock has averaged 185% lambing crop for the last few years with only fall lambing. I have found Dorset's to be great mothers with the ability to milk twins with ease. Dorset's have always been the breed for me as they can lamb in the fall for those early fairs in California. Being deep sided with plenty of rib allows my ewes to milk heavy for at least 100 days. I was a manager of a Dairy herd for three years and I learned there that deep sided dairy cows are heavier in milk production. I strive for that in my Dorset ewes, so that they can milk for at least 100 days. I have my lambs being weaned at 80 pounds or more as twin lambs.
Many of you now know I have sold my flock of Dorset's Sheep in 2016. I have moved on to other things in my life.