Steeped in the history of these rich river valleys, Sauk Valley Lofts and Sauk Valley Suffolks call this area home. Located about nine miles northwest of Sterling, Illinois, our farm produces soybeans, corn and alfalfa hay and has provided sound Suffolk breeding genetics to sheep producers throughout the United States for the past 30 years. In 2003, racing homing pigeons were added to satisfy our passion for breeding top genetics, and also to satisfy that competitive spirit of scoring the win. Nothing is more gratifying than carefully placing the bands on the legs of newly hatched youngsters or tagging the ears of that special, new set of twin lambs.
It is with a great sense of anticipation that maybe, just maybe, these are the ones that will go on to set new records and take a program to the next level. Whether you are a sheep producer or a racing pigeon flier, we have attempted to present in this website a portfolio of what we are all about. As you analyze the genetics and study the pedigrees of our programs, we feel that we can supply some of the pieces to that genetic puzzle. We will try to make available from time to time on this website, some of our genetics that will be available for sale. If there is anything that we can do for you, or if you have questions about our programs, please feel free to get in touch. I hope that you enjoy your visit to our website.
Phil and Linda Miatke
At Sauk Valley Lofts, our breeders are divided into two separate lofts. Our sprint birds, short and middle distance, are housed in the main loft. We have focused primarily on performance Janssens in this loft with Staff Van Reets as our primary cross. Along with special imports from Willem de Bruijn, Gebr. Simons, Gjis Peters, Willem van Rij, Dick Postma, and Fred Dukker, we have several Janssen based birds from CBS, Rick Mardis, and America’s Dream Loft, Jim Gabler. We especially like the “Fire Flights” and have assembled a nice family of them based around the genetics from Jim. And, of course, the “Hekkenklaks” also come from ADL. We are very fortunate to live only about 3 miles from the ADL loft and Jim and his loft manager, Don Kelsey have been very kind in sharing of these genetics.
“Den Boss” a direct Staff Van Reet import along with additions from Frank McLaughlin and Don Hart make up the nucleus of our Van Reet family. Van Reets are known for their speed, fast orientation, and aggressiveness around the loft. We like those features. They have crossed well with the Janssens.
Our east loft houses the Morris Gordons. They are well known for their ability to race through tough weather conditions and excelling on the long distance races. They all go back to the Ken Ahlstrand Gordons that have made the Rockford area so well known for the Gordons. We have been breeding for the brick reds, blacks, and splashes. They have done well as young birds and have crossed well with the sprint birds in the old bird race loft. We have found them to be very hardy, durable birds.
We do breed in individual pens when breeding for stock birds as well as for desired strains. This way we can be certain that crossing has not occurred.
Having moved to a small farmette in 1979, with plenty of farm buildings and pastures ready to be consumed, it was decided that Suffolk sheep would make a nice family project. It was a project that quickly became a passion. The original ewes came from Harvey Arabian farms and rams were purchased early on from Frostaire Farms of Ohio. “Fire Line” and “Break Thru”, were their names and they added length as well as size. The next two rams came from Alvin Airoso of California….”Touchback” and “Aviator”, where we gained breed character, muscling, and style. “Marksman” and “Firestone” were then added from the Andrus Brothers of Idaho to enhance ruggedness, bone, and longevity. At the 1995 Midwest Stud Ram Sale in Sedalia, Missouri , we went all out and purchased, from George Brothers of Ohio, the National Champion ram who was rechristened as “Ultima”. His impact has been felt in our flock for several generations now, as most of our ewes trace back to him. During this time we also AI’ed many ewes to the prominent rams of the time, “Hillbilly”, “McGRRaw”, and “Silver Charm”. The next impact ram came from Marv Heupel of California, “Bigbiz”, who added tremendous size and scale to our flock. A “Bigbiz” daughter, “Pepsi”, was crowned Reserve Champion Ewe at the American Royal in Kansas City in 1999. We then leased a Buckeye Acres ram called “Stout” who added a nice level top line with volume. “Big Rig”, an Annuschat ram from Oklahoma was purchased in Sedalia where he was 2nd place early February ram lamb in 2003. Since that time we have selected our best ram lambs from within our flock and have line bred with the genetics we have.
Our entire flock is homozygous RR/NN, meaning that each individual is genetically resistant to scrapie and are free of the recessive spider gene. Our flock was the first in the U.S. to utilize DNA genotyping as a tool in identifying resistant sheep. This, along with stringent culling of any other genetically linked traits has allowed us to develop a flock where most of the guess work has been eliminated. We feel this is extremely important for our customers as they select breeding stock. A slogan that we used in our advertising several years ago probably best summarizes our flock…..”Solid Sheep With Solid Genetics”.