Darlene has always been the sheep person in the family. Several years ago she and Bob purchased their first Dorset ewes from The Stavers in Palmyra, PA. They utilized one ram with Penn State genetics and the rest have been Maple Hollow Farm sires from the Barkley family in Bedford County, PA. Our new registered Dorset stud ram is sired by a Sidwell ram.
The Dorsets are a versatile meat breed of sheep that enjoy the MCF pastures and produce lambs in the Fall or Spring. The rest of our flock consists of cross bred sheep which lamb in the Spring.
We are in the process of reestablishing a Suffolk flock through percentage Suffolks. We selected a registered Suffolk ram from Wiford Suffolks, Ohio for our first ram.
The ewe flock is a great resource to pasture the steeper more highly erodible areas of the farm. Due to their smaller size and by ensuring the sheep don’t overgraze an area; they are able to pasture the steepest areas without their hooves eroding the soils. This allows us to ensure healthy soils that stay on MCF property and doesn’t run off downstream.
Spring lambing ewes are brought into the barn to lamb and remain there throughout the first 60 days of life, due to the harsh winter/spring time weather in western PA. Lambing outside would not be wise during that time period due to the harsh winter weather in western PA.
The fall lambing ewes remain out on pasture and raise their lambs on pasture since the temperatures are milder at that time of year.
Our ewes enjoy pasture and hay to meet their nutritional needs. When they are close to lambing we begin to supplement them with a small amount of grain mixture that is mixed on the farm. Once they lamb we feed the ewe a larger amount of grain thus giving her the necessary nutrition for milk production for her lamb(s).