About Marcus passion for sheep and wool

Let's talk about sheep and wool with Marcus Berther

Marcus Berther from Disentis in Switzerland is one of our lavalan sheep farmers whose wool we process. What started as hobby farming with 20 animals has developed over the years into a full-time business with round about 300 sheep. Peter from lavalan had the great pleasure to go on a ski tour with Marcus close to where he and his sheep are based and talk to him about sheep, wool and what's it all about.

One of your greatest passions is ski touring, but your main job is something else. What can you tell us about that?

I have a farm at home and it's all about sheep and yes, I like working with the sheep.

How many sheep do you have?

Now there are 180 ewes and 140 lambs.

And since when have you been doing this?

I've actually been doing this since I was 24 years old. And this year I will be 60 years old. That's 36 years in which I turned my hobby into a profession.

Can you perhaps tell us something about keeping sheep throughout the year?

They are currently in the stable. Now I have trimmed all the sheep's claws. I think I have to feed them for another 3 weeks and then spring will come. I have to graze my meadows first. As soon as the vegetation starts to grow we walk with the herd onto the alp and I have the feeling that the sheep are happiest there. During this time the farmer is making hay down in the valley so that there is food for the winter.

When are the sheep back with you at the farm?

I would say that the sheep will be with me around mid-October. Then they graze the last areas around the stable before the snow comes.

For each sheep it is prescribed how much space it needs. Both outside and inside the stable?

Outside anyway. It takes up a lot of space outside. But indoors, each sheep needs 2 square meters. What's important is that I have to be able to read the newspaper in the stable because of brightness. That's the rule.

Animal welfare requires that I let the animals out 13 times a month for one hour. For me, I let them out every day, at least an hour. I can also put some straw in the stable so that it is dry. I can fill the food bars in the meantime. When they come back in, the stable is very clean. You can hardly see any dirt.

What measures do you take to achieve a clean and consistent wool quality?

When you're on the Alp, you go from 2,000 to 3,000 meters, you don't actually have to do anything. They are always outside. It rains, it snows but also sometimes, lots of sun.

Does breeding also play a role when it comes to wool?

Yes, of course you can check that the ones you use for breeding also have nice wool.

What is your primary race?

Mainly the white Alpine sheep. It likes the mountains, it's a herd animal and the shepherd can whistle and the animals gather without him having to run up and herd them together.

See full video (in German)