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Iowa Hampshire ram takes home award

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 09/23/2013 9:34 AM

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SIBLEY, Iowa —Sonny Jr. is the biggest of the big rams owned by Rob and Gail Travaille.

Sonny won the Big Ram award at the Iowa State Fair by weighing in at 392.4 pounds. His reward was an appearance with Al Roker, NBC's Today Show weather forecaster.

The Travailles raise lots of large animals on their Osceola County farm near Sibley. They also have a Columbia ram that weighs 425 pounds.

Large sells, said Rob Travaille. It's difficult to get a 135 pound market lamb from a lightweight ram. Having a bigger ram, the ewe size can remain under 150 pounds. Lambs grow faster with the input of increased ram size genetics.

The Travailles raise purebred Columbias and Hampshires.

It began as a 4-H project with their children, said Rob Travaille.

They purchased their first purebred Hampshire in 2006, and one year later, the Travailles added the Columbia breed at their so,n Shane's, request. Rob Travaille had raised that breed before. He purchased the purebred Columbia sheep from Leland Thiesen, of Windom, Minn.

Since then, the sheep have become a focus for the Travaille's and their five children, building up a reputation for sheep that will win in the showring in and outside of Iowa but also perform well on the farm.

Grandchildren are looking forward to someday camping out with Grandpa and Grandma in the barn at the Iowa State Fair.

The Travaille family is competing at the Clay County Fair, which runs through Sept. 15.