Dan Dawson
Dawson Ranch—Roseburg, OR

dawson

Twins. If Dan Dawson of Roseburg, Oregon had his druthers, every ewe on his place would have a set of twins. 

To up his odds of getting twin lambs, Dan only keeps ewes that are twins as replacements. Another way Dan improves his chances of getting twins is through better nutrition.

“While twinning is genetically linked, it’s also related to nutrition,” he explains. Nutrition to Dan isn’t grain, however. Dan’s operation is 100 percent grass-based, and his ranches are located where grass typically loves to grow. The terrain is primarily hilly, almost mountainous, with a few flat areas here and there. 

“This is a unique area,” Dan says. “It’s the perfect area for having a grass-fed sheep operation.”

Dan paid his way through college by shearing sheep, which also helped him to first lease his dad’s sheep operation and then buy his own ranch. For 20 years, Dan sheared 10,000 to 12,000 sheep per year. Dan and his family now own almost 1,000 acres and lease another 2,500 acres.

Dan and his family—wife, Breanne, a teacher, twin (yes, twin) sons Drew and Carter, age 7, and daughter, Reagan, age 3—lamb about 1,300 older ewes in January and February and about 200 younger ewes in March and April. 

Two of Dawson Ranch’s biggest challenges are invading plant species in pastures and predators. Sheep are key to keeping invading plant species, primarily poisonous oak and wild blackberries, from taking over at Dawson Ranch. Dan points to three-foot or so high plants on a neighboring hill, noting that the cattle don’t have what it takes to prevent the plants from popping up and taking over.

“We don’t have those plants, and we don’t spray,” Dan adds with a smile. “Our land is managed using our sheep.”