Kyle showed lambs at county fairs as a youth, and at one fair made the acquaintance of Jill Schwickerath of Cherokee, who was showing a horse. Things progressed as they are wont to do, and eventually Kyle and Jill married. With one spouse sporting a Business degree and the other a marketing degree, which Jill earned at Bellevue University, the Schmillens were ideally situated to pursue their life as a 21st Century Iowa Farm Family.
Kyle and Jill Schmillen raise high quality show sheep. They have about 150 ewes, and the lambs are born in January. They treat the lambs very well, feeding them three meals a day of "show food," which helps them achieve the muscle tone and fitness they need for showing. The lambs are sold to 4-H or FFA members in April, when they are weaned from the ewe. The lambs usually weigh about 70-80 pounds at this point.
In the summer of 2007, lambs bred and raised at Schmillens took the following honors, among others : Grand Champion 4-H lamb at the Iowa State Fair; Grand Champion FFA lamb at the Iowa State Fair; Grand Champion 4-H lamb at the Ohio State Fair; and 4) Reserve Champion at the Kansas State Fair. Veteran livestock showers have commented that this feat is nothing short of amazing, and Kyle Schmillen said this year marks the first time in the long history of the Iowa State Fair that one flock has produced both the Grand Champion FFA lamb and the Grand Champion 4-H lamb in the same year.
Kyle noted that they are hopeful that one of their flock will earn high honors at the Tennessee State Fair also, and said that they have sold sheep in 18 different states. With the high quality lambs they have produced, more champions may be on the way, and they may have to build a bigger room to have more wall space for their many photos of champion lambs.
Jill is not showing any horses at this time, largely because she and Kyle added a member to their own "brood" in April 2006, with the birth of their son Samuel, aka "Sammy," and she feels that watching over an energetic 16-month-old is enough for her right now.
Though the Schmillens are among a small group of sheep producers in this part of the state, they said that Iowa is considered one of the top three state in the Club Lamb Industry. More than 1000 lambs were shown at the Iowa State Fair this summer, and more than 1500 head were shown at the Ohio State Fair.
As I stated earlier, the Schmillens are a 21st Century Farm Family, and you can check our their business at their website, www.schmillenshowlambs.com.