West Fork Farms is located in Alpine, Tennessee, right along the West Fork of the Obey River that feeds into Dale Hollow Lake. We are blessed to live in a great area to enjoy life and raise our family. The farm has been in our family since 1904!
We are a family-owned farm that is very excited about raising Katahdin hair sheep. We are also hooked on horses. We enjoy raising high quality using and just fun to ride horses.
Robert Walker and wife Kim have been married for 27 years and have two children, Madison and Ben. We currently run about 125 registered ewes on 60 acres in Alpine, TN. We raised Angus cattle for thirty years; but since finding Katahdins, we have sold off all our cattle to focus on the sheep! Once you go sheep you never go back!
In my current day job in Sales, I do a lot of multi-state travel which has enabled me to visit many Katahdin operations across the country. I have visited farms from Montana to Florida and all points in between. I love seeing the different management practices and styles being used successfully with this versatile breed. I learn something from every visit, but mostly that the Katahdin breed really can adapt to about anything!
In our own operation, we are working towards having a near year-round grazing model, taking advantage of our fescue and clover paddocks and incorporating annuals to keep input costs low and maintain the sheep in a natural, pastured setting. One thing I have gained appreciation for from long time shepherds is the value of quality forage for the ewe flock.
We are members of NSIP and, of course, are always learning. I am a believer in using technology to more rapidly improve productivity and increase the genetic value of our sheep. You can’t improve what you can’t measure, so I believe good record keeping and data analysis make for better decision making in regard to the sheep and the resources we utilize to maintain the sheep. Being in the humid, wet, hot South, parasite resistance is huge in our ewe flock. Without EBV’s I don’t know which animals are genetically superior to the rest of the flock. The end goal is in putting great-tasting meat on the consumer’s plate as efficiently as possible.
We are current and active members in KHSI. Robert is currently on the Board and serving as Treasurer, American Quarter Horse Association, Tennessee Sheep Producers Association, currently serving as Vice President, NSIP, Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins, currently serving on the Board and National Reining Horse Association. We truly believe in supporting the organizations that promote the breeds of livestock we are involved in. One thing I have enjoyed the most since buying our first Katahdin sheep is meeting so many people with such passion for the Katahdin breed. I can’t think of one person I have met whom wouldn’t take a call to help someone out with a problem or question. It is great that we have shepherds who are more than willing to share their knowledge and mentor new breeders. I researched other hair sheep breeds before buying Katahdins, and I can’t say that any have as strong of an organization or comradery as we do in the Katahdin breed.