After renting a dairy farm in Vermont for a few years, we purchased our Dairy Farm in Burke, New York in 2003. Along with our son, Michael, we began shipping milk in 2004. After an economic slump in the dairy industry, we sold the herd. Looking for a way to keep the farm producing and keeping the land from becoming fallow, we began raising Katahdin sheep in 2007 for breeding stock and meat sales. Katahdin’s were picked because they have excellent mothering ability, are parasite resistant, have a docile nature, require no shearing or tail docking and have a superior meat flavor. A flock of 15 ewes’s convinced us that Downing Acres Registered Katahdin’s was an enterprise that could keep the farm viable. After purchasing a additional flock in 2008 and another in 2010, we increased our flock size up to 200 ewes. In the spring of 2015, we sold 100 acres of tillable land with the old farmhouse and barn. We built a new house and a new sheep barn in 2016. We have cut our animal numbers back to 75 breeding ewes and approximately 6 to 8 breeding rams. These numbers have allowed us to select only our finest stock to produce the quality animals that keeps customers coming back.
Rotational grazing is used on the farm. Animals are put on pasture from May through September or as conditions allow.We hay one of our fields to produce hay and bedding. We feed grass haylage in the winter that we purchase from a local farmer.
We are members of the Katahdin Hair Sheep International(KHSI) and participate in the National Sheep Improvement Program(NSIP). One month prior to lambing, ewes receive their CD & T annual booster and receive an injection of BOSE to prevent selenium deficiencies. These injections give passive immunity to the lambs by giving antibodies through colostrum. Each lamb is weighed at birth, tagged and weighed again at weaning (60 days) then at post-weaning (120 days). This data generates Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) through NSIP that are available for our lambs.
We are also in the Scrapie Flock Certification program and advanced to certified status in May of 2010. Scrapie is a disease of sheep similar to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad-cow disease in cattle.
We have participated in an Parasite Resistance Study where lamb weights were taken at birth, weaning and, if possible, at post weaning. Fecal samples were taken at weaning and post-weaning. Blood samples were also taken for genomic testing. Sheep are selected for parasite resistance and are only wormed as required when identified by Famacha scoring.
We keep all our records on a computer program called Flockfiler. Meticulous record keeping, participation in many programs and sire selection from diverse top quality flocks make Downing Acres Registered Katahdins a quality breeding stock producer worth using.