Tom Nichols wrote:Joe,
Please share details of how you have set-up and utilized cooperator flocks.
For the most part, my cooperator flocks are purebred Suffolk flocks that have leased or own part interest in my rams. I own no interest in their ewes, thus they remain their own entity. I refer inquiries for breeding stock to these flocks, based on desired type and availability. I sometimes, but not always, collect a commission for sales referrals. The cooperators involve me in the breeding, selection, and culling decisions, which I do free of charge, as if they were my own ewes. I do generally retain first right of refusal on any lambs sold that are sired by my rams. For the most part, the offspring in which I would have interest are retained as replacements by the cooperators. There are also a few flocks that have assimilated ewes I own into their own program, and I pay them for their management. As a grad student with limited time, space, and capital, this model allows me to work with the critical mass of females that I have learned is necessary to have a true "program". Prior to involving other flocks, I could do little to no advertising because I simply could not supply the demand. My main objective is to keep the genetic pieces I have worked hard to gather together alive, until I am in a better position to manage a large ewe flock myself. This is a breakeven model at best, but appears to be working well to accomplish my genetic goals, particularly over the last few years. I certainly have had my fair share of failed partnership ventures in the Suffolk business, and have tried hard to learn from those mistakes.