Nestled in the rolling hills near the Susquehanna River, 40 miles north of the state capital city of Harrisburg is the 175 acre home of Lauden Acres Dorsets.
Lauden Acres is named after the original owners, Lynn and Dixie Laudenslager.
In 1970, Lynn and his wife Dixie moved back to Dalmatia, Pennsylvania, after being out of state for 6 years. Lynn became a partner in his Father-in-laws business, Mahantongo Game Farms, and 100 commercial sheep were part of the operation. The sheep had origianlly been purchased from Dixie's Grandfather. Her father didn't really enjoy the sheep, so he turned them over to Lynn. Ewe numbers were gradually increased and at one time they had more than 350 ewes. That number lasted about a year. Then 100 were sold. Gradually, pure-bred Suffolks were incorporated into the operation. In the early 1980's, Lynn & Dixie and their two sons, Todd and Troy, showed sheep at county fairs.
In the mid 1980's Lynn bought some Suffolks in Ohio from Tim Hall, a past president of the National Suffolk Association. Later he asked Tim if he would consider working on the game farm. Tim consented and in 1985, moved to Pennsylvania and brought along his Narrow Lanes Suffolks. He devoted about two-thirds of his time to the sheep and one-third to the game farm. Each year the game farm took up more and more of his time and less time was devoted to the sheep. The majority of Suffolks were dispersed in the early 1990's. Purebred Montadales were also kept for a number of years following the Suffolk dispersal.
Lauden Acres were without sheep for a few years until around 2000 when former Penn State shepherd, Dick Kuzemchak, brought Dr. Jim and Joanne Evans of Vision Stock Farm to Mahantongo to buy some pheasants. Lynn missed his sheep and bought 6 Dorset brood ewes from Vision Stock Farm. They have been expanding the flock ever since with more ewes purchased from Vision Stock Farm and Penn State. Most recently the Bradford Dorset flock was purchased in 2008, Mithoefer, Daniels and most of the Grand View Dorset flock were purchased in 2013.
Currently Lauden Acres keeps about 100 Dorset brood ewes with the majority lambing in September and early October. The remaining ewes lamb in January and February. Teaser rams are used approximately 10 to 14 days prior to introducing stud rams.
The fall lambers graze on grass close to the old bank barn until lambing. After the lambs are about 2 weeks old, the lambs and ewes are moved to the new barn. When they lamb in the winter, the lambing area is warmed by two hanging LP poultry brooders.A heated office/supply room has a sink with an LP gas water heater that heats water instantly for washing hands and equipment. A corral system set up in the barn provides easy handling.
Another old bank barn on the farm also has a corral system, other additions to the sheep operation have been a ram barn with added room for various sheep groups, and the show barn that was built on one of our nearby game farms.
The Dorsets are currently fitted and shown by Kevin, Sara and Katherine Kuykendall. Isaac Garges, Paul Wissinger and others also help at certain times throughout the year.
Tim's role has changed over the years from flock manager to flock consultant. He also helps with lambing, sorting and vaccinating. In addition Tim plays a role in merchandising, making breeding decisions and selecting replacements and sale sheep. Former Penn State shepherd, Dick Kuzemchak, also is a consultant for Lauden Acres. Both Tim and Dick are the individuals responsible for the success of the Lauden Acres breeding program.
Sheep are selected for eye appeal, breed type and performance. Detailed records are kept on each animal. Lauden Acres' objective is to only sell those animals that will be flock improvers for each customer's needs. Performance and customer satisfaction are very important.
Lauden Acres started consigning to the national sales in 2003. They now attend the Ohio Dorset Sale, Illinois Dorset Sale, National Dorset Sale and the Midwest Stud Ram Sale. They also have a show flock which exhibits at the Ohio, Illinois, Indiana State Fairs. Other shows include the Eastern States Exposition(The Big E), Keystone International Livestock Expo(KILE) and the North American International Livestock Exposition(NAILE).
Tim started Narrow Lanes Dorsets with breeding from Lauden Acres and Penn State. He recently became a certified Dorper judge. Tim also judges cattle, hogs, and sheep at the county level and sheep at the national level.
Mahantongo Game Farms is one of the oldest family owned game farms in the country, started in 1935 by Dixie's Great Uncle. Her father purchased the farm in 1959. Lynn became a partner in 1970, and then bought out his father-in-law in 1988. Lynn was active in the Pennsylvania Game Breeders and the North American Game Bird Associaitons and served as state and national president. In 2003, Lynn retired when his sons, Todd and Troy, purchased the game farm. Dixie still works in the office part-time and Lynn is responsible for the daily operations of the sheep farm.
Recently, the game farm, with ten full-time employees, had 15,000 breeder Pheasants and 11,000 breeder Chukar Partridges that produced about 2,000,000 eggs. Eggs and chicks are shipped to other game farms all over the United States and Canada. The Breeders are used for one year and then sold. The farm also raises to maturity approximately 200,000 Pheasants and 100,000 Chukars each year.
Do not hesitate to contact Dick, Tim or Lynn, if you have additional questions about the sheep or gamebird operation.