The Culham & Stevens flock was established in 1961 with the first lambs registered in 1962. A partnership was formed in 1984 between Alan Culham & Morrie Stevens that remains in existence to this day. In 1988 the flock enrolled in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) and currently has had over 2,400 head with genetic evaluations.
With growth rate being a primary selection criterion the Culham and Stevens flock has emerged as the premier source for Suffolk growth genetics in the world. Just to support that claim Culham & Stevens 5BR155 sired in 2008 the unchallenged world’s fastest growing sheep at Michigan State University, MSU 8130 a ram lamb, had and actual 120 day weight of 203.5 pounds.
The 2017 Culham & Stevens lambcrop had an average post weaning (120 day) estimated breeding value (EBV) of 10.1 kg (22.2 lbs.). Included in this group were the top nine individuals of the entire NSIP Suffolk breed lambcrop of 2017 (nearly 1500 head recorded). Additionally Culham & Stevens has maintained a positive genetic trend for eye muscle depth (EMD) while eliminating the gene for Spider Lamb Syndrome as well as obtaining an almost exclusive RR scrapie genotype at codon 171.
Most recently, Alan Culham was recognized as the 2018 Purebred Producer of the Year by the Michigan Sheep Producers Association. We’d like to recognize Alan, as well as Morrie, for their commitment to the Michigan sheep industry over the years!
Doug & Bonnie Hoolsema
Doug and Bonnie Hoolsema live near Peck in Sanilac County. Bonnie grew up in that area, but Doug was raised near Rudyard which is in Chippewa County located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They first met at a church retreat in Iron Bridge, Ontario. That meeting eventually led to a marriage in 1971 and a move by Doug to Bonnie’s home turf. Not long after their marriage, they bought a farm near Peck and have lived there ever since. They have a son and two daughters who are now adults and have five grandchildren.
Doug grew up on a farm that had sheep as one of its enterprises. He started shearing sheep when he was in high school using his father’s method. Around the end of his high school career, Graydon Blank, former MSU sheep extension specialist, conducted a shearing school in the area. There were fourteen students in the class with four being left handed. Doug was one of the leftys. Graydon was right handed and was having a hard time showing how to shear as a left hander. Since Doug had already been shearing, he was able to translate the moves for his fellow left handers and thus began Graydon’s teaching assistant.
Later, Doug attended a shearing school in Wisconsin. Alan Barker from New Zealand was the instructor so the method he presented was the one used in his home country. Doug learned that shearing approach and has been using it ever since. He along with other shearers have put on shearing schools to help keep the supply of shearers coming.
He now shears about eleven thousand head a year. He has shorn from places east of Cleveland, Ohio to Calumet, Michigan in the western Upper Peninsula. Bonnie is now retired from working at a local hospital, so she often goes along on Doug’s long trips as a backup chauffer.
Doug has competed in shearing contests from South Dakota to Ontario placing first or second in several of them. He also judged at many contests in the same area.
He is the president of the American Sheep Shearer’s Association and on the Board of the Mid States Wool Cooperative. For many years, Doug was on the Board of the Michigan Sheep Producers Association and served as chairman of the Wool Committee.
At one time, they had a flock of two hundred ewes, but are now at thirty-five North Cheviot cross bred ewes. The sheep industry in Michigan is very fortunate to have such an expert shearing team at their service.