Vermont has never seen the likes of Mark Rodgers’ sheep. In a few months, Rodgers will be the first person in the Western Hemisphere with Dutch spotted sheep. “It’s fun to be leading a charge on something that I think is going to have some long-term benefits to the entire sheep industry in the United States,” said Rodgers, surrounded by sheep at his MKVT Farm in Glover. Native to the Netherlands, Dutch spotted sheep are known for their hardy build, strong maternal instincts, grazing thoroughly and fattening quickly, and their signature spotty coats. Up until 2022, it was illegal to import their embryos in the United States. Rodgers is the first to do it, purchasing eight embryos from a breeder in Great Britain. This December, Rodgers road-tripped with his sheep to Tufts University’s vet program. Doctors implanted the embryos in eight surrogate sheep. Six weeks later, Cold Hollow Veterinary Services did their ultrasounds and discovering a whopping seven pregnancies. With excellent grazing abilities and extra meat on their bones, Rodgers says his new sheep could be more profitable than standard sheep and fill a hole left by declining dairy farms. Rodgers is already hearing from local farmers interested in buying his sheep’s offspring. He says he’s excited to breed his flock, but for now, his sights are set on their due date of May 5. “We’re going to be looking for little black and white spotted sheep running around,” he said.
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