About the Baalands
The Baalands is a small 8.2-acre farm in Western
Maryland, approximately 9 miles northwest of Hagerstown and
9 miles from the major intersection of I-70 and I-81. The flock consists of 38 purebred and crossbred
Katahdin ewes. The ewes are of mixed colors,
though mostly white.
Sires for the 2013 lamb crop include Phelps, a purebred registered Katahdin ram purchased from Triple L Farms
in Virginia; Spooner, a 5/8 Lacaune x 3/8 Katahdin ram purchased last year from the Spooner Agricultural Research Station in Wisconsin; and B'ears, a home-raised 1/2 Katahdin x 1/4 Hampshire x 1/4 Suffolk ram. The purpose of the breeding program is to produce purebred registered Katahdins, as well as crossbred lambs of two types: Katahdin "Mule" (3/4 Katahdin x 1/4 Blackface) and Katahdin "Dairy" (11/16 Katahdin x 5/16 Lacaune).
During the winter feeding period, ewes and
rams are housed in a 30 ft. x 72 ft. Clear Span "hoop"
structure, purchased from Farmtek
A new cover was put on the hoop house in 2012. Movable pens are set up in the hoop house utilizing 8 ft. open
gates purchased from D-S
. Pastures are enclosed in high tensile,
electric fencing. Six wires are utilized with all wires carrying
a charge, except for the top wire. The bottom wire can be switched
off. There are three permanent paddocks and a separate pasture for rams or other small groups. Electric netting
can be used to further divide pastures for rotational grazing.
After the pasture resource is depleted, usually in mid-December, pregnant ewes are fed grass hay. During the
last month of pregnancy, ewes are fed grain to meet their increased
needs for energy and calcium. 1/2 lb. of grain per head per
day is typically fed. A locally-made pelleted protein supplement
(38%) is mixed with whole barley to increase the level of calcium
in the ration prior to lambing and the level of protein after
lambing. Barley is purchased and stored at a local
grain elevator. It is delivered and stored in a galvanized metal
3.5 ton bulk feed bin on the farm.
Ewes are vaccinated for overeating disease
(type C and D) and tetanus prior to lambing. Starting one month
prior to lambing, ewes are given free choice access to a vitamin-mineral
pre-mix containing Bovatec®
Lactating ewes are penned and fed according to their age (mature vs. yearling)
and the number of lambs they are nursing. Generally, ewes receive
1 lb. of grain for each lamb they are nursing. The composition
of the grain ration is varied according to the type of hay fed:
grass or alfalfa. Protein, then grain is removed from the ewes'
ration prior to weaning to prevent mastitis.
In 2013, the lambing season will be split. Half of the flock will lamb beginning in early February. The second group will lamb beginning in mid-March. Ewe lambs will lamb in April. Lambing occurs in large drop pens or outside on pasture. After lambing, ewes and
lambs are placed in lambing jugs for 1 to 3 days, before being
moved to mixing pens of four ewes and their offspring. Lambs
are weighed at birth and ear-tagged, but are not docked or castrated. Crossbred (hair x wool) lambs are sometimes docked. Lambs are creep fed a mixture of cracked corn and soybean meal.
Fresh water and hay is also available in the creep area. When
the lambs are approximately one month old, the ration is gradually
changed to whole barley and pellets. The lambs' free choice minerals contain a coccidiostat.
Any orphan lambs are fed lamb milk replacer
according to the manufacturer's label and weaned at 6 to 7 weeks of age. Lambs
are vaccinated for overeating disease and tetanus twice. They
are weaned between 60 and 90 days of age, usually when the youngest
lambs are 70 days old. Lambs are weighed at weaning and weights
are corrected to a common age and adjusted for birth type, type
of rearing, sex of lamb, and age of dam. The top-indexing ewe
lambs are retained in the flock. Ram and ewe lambs are separated
when they are between 3 and 4 months of age.
Ewes and weaned lambs graze orchardgrass-ladino
clover and Max Q tall fescue-ladino clover pastures. While on
pasture, lambs are supplemented with a 16 percent protein grain
ration (barley + protein supplement). Ram lambs receive 1.0
to 1.5 lbs. per head per day while ewe lambs receive 1/2 to
3/4 lb. of grain per head per day. Ewe lambs and the top-indexing
ram lambs are sold for breeding. Ewe lambs are fed and bred
to lamb when they are 12 to 13 months of age and have achieved
approximately two-thirds of their mature weight. Thoughout pregnancy
and lactation, they are fed and managed separately from mature
ewes. They are not mixed with mature ewes until they have weaned their first lamb(s).
Hooves are trimmed as needed, rarely more
than once per year, many not even that often. Only lambs showing clincial signs of barber
pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection (anemia, as
evidenced by lower eyelid color, FAMACHA© system) are dewormed.
Few lambs require deworming. Mature ewes are not
dewormed. Sub-therapeutic antibiotics are not fed. Antibiotics are administered only if an animal has
a rectal temperature of over 104°F or a preventative dose of antibiotic is warranted.
Mortality, afterbirth, and slaughter wastes
are composted. No major health problems have been experienced
in the flock. CL (Caseous Lymphadenitis) has never been identified
as the causative agent of the occasional abscess. The flock
does not test for OPP or Johne's, but has also not experienced
any chronic wasting or debilitating diseases or hard bag. The flock is certified scrapie-free
(Maryland flock #23). Status date in the Voluntary
Scrapie Flock Certification Program
is October 18, 2003.
The farm "employs" two Great Pyrenees livestock guardian
dogs, McComb and
Boone, to provide protection from predators and possible intruders. McComb was
a gift from Katahdin Hair
. He takes his name from McComb, Mississippi,
the location of the 2004 annual KHSI Expo. Thanks to KHSI
for McComb! Bone was obtained at the
2008 annual KHSI Expo. He takes his name from Boonsboro, the
location of the meeting (which I hosted in Maryland)