Our Katahdin Sheep

katahdin lambOn our farm we raise Registered Katahdin meat sheep for breeding, showing, and meat. We choose our breeding rams based on their genetics for parasite resistance and multiple births as well as fast growth on pasture. We do not buy grain-fed rams since those rams rarely do well on pasture alone. All of our breeding rams are Scrapie Codon 171 tested RR, which means that all their progeny are scrapie-resistant. Most of our ewes are RR with one being QR. We would never choose to keep an inferior RR ewe over an exceptional QR ewe. With an RR breeding ram, all lambs are guaranteed to be QR or better regardless of what the ewe is. We cull hard and breed for the traditional Katahdin qualities including:

  • parasite tolerance/resistance
  • easy multiple birthing and good mothering
  • hair that sheds off easily in the Spring/Summer
  • no hoof problems
  • "low maintenance"
  • colorful flock; although we do have the basic white as well

Our Breeding Program

For the past four years we have been focussing on parasite resistance. We feel this is an important area on which to focus since we've noticed that many sheep owners do not have the vast amount of land for grazing and rotating their sheep. Therefore, their sheep are continuously exposed to an ever-increasing parasite load. With parasite-tolerant sheep, deworming is kept to a minimum (if at all) and makes for a healthier and hardier sheep, who then passes these traits on to their offspring.

We deworm our new lambs at weaning time to give them a fighting chance, and they are put out onto a clean pasture. Lambs that need to be dewormed again are scheduled for the freezer. We choose not to sell non-parasite resistant lambs to other breeders because we would not want someone else to breed those poor genetics. So we feel it is best that those lambs be eaten. If more farmers would cull non parasite-tolerant sheep, we would have a stronger parasite-resistant gene pool. Our adult sheep do not need deworming under normal circumstances. If there is an adult sheep that requires repeated deworming, it is culled as well.

We also breed for multiple births. We breed our yearlings so they lamb at 14 months or older, and we have a very high multiple-birth rate out of the yearlings. Ewes that have singles two years in a row are put up for sale, since they are still excellent ewes, and there are lots of shepherds who would like to have a fine ewe that produces large healthy singles. Any sheep with repeated hoof problems are culled along with any lambs that do not gain well on pasture alone.

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Sheep Milk

Katahdin ewes with large milk bags can be used for dairy. Sheep's milk is pure white and rich tasting and close to human ph. And since it is higher in fat and protein than goat milk, it has a sweeter taste. Sheep's milk is naturally very thick; most sheep milk is turned into cheese or yogurt, but it also makes a creamy, rich ice cream. Cheese made from sheep's milk is creamier and ages more mildly than goat's milk cheese. Sheep's milk keeps well, and unlike goat's milk, it can be stored frozen without any loss of quality. Sheep milk soap is rich with butter fat and proteins that nourish the skin, as well as almost double the vitamins and minerals of other milk soaps. In sheep's milk, the milk and cream do not separate, so soap made from sheep milk contains all of the rich, moisturizing properties of the milk and cream combined. Sheep milk soap also contains lactic acid that acts as a natural, gentle exfoliate, leaving skin soft and glowing, feeling revitalized. It is particularly soothing for those with dry or sensitive skin.

The amount of milk produced by sheep, compared to milk cows, is small; but sheep dairying takes less investment, and sheep's milk sells for five times more than cow's milk. For sheep producers who want to process their own milk or find a market for it, sheep dairying can be a way to increase the income from their flock.

Buying Katahdin Sheep

For the beginner sheep enthusiast, I would suggest getting 3-4 ewe lambs (or more if you have the space) and a breeding ram. Make sure you keep the ram separate from the ewes to avoid having them bred too young. If you only have one ram, the ram can be kept in a pasture with the livestock guardian dog(s) to keep him company. Before buying your sheep, determine what it is you want to breed (e.g., meat, show, parasite-resistance, color, large/well-muscled, etc.) and buy from those breeders who breed for the qualities you are wanting to breed. Try to buy from just one or two breeders. A misstep often made by new sheep buyers is to acquire breeding stock from too many breeders, diluting or 'breeding out' the hard-won advantages of each bloodline. This is done on the false assumption that each line's virtue will combine to make 'super sheep,' which practically never happens.

It is also a very good idea to have a mentor, who you can call upon when you have questions. Sometimes this can be the breeder from whom you purchased your sheep. Having a mentor can make all the difference in the world, since they can help you prevent problems before you even know there is one. We are very blessed to have an awesome mentor who has helped us tremendously over the years.

Here are several good reasons to choose Katahdin Sheep:

  • Easy Care: Katahdins are a low-maintenance, easy care sheep. No shearing or tail docking necessary.
  • Parasite Tolerance: Katahdins are more resistant to internal parasites than most other breeds of sheep. Mature Katahdins rarely require deworming.
  • Excellent Mothers: Kathadin ewes are excellent mothers with few lambing problems and normally give birth to twins or triplets without difficulty.
  • Meat Quality: Katahdins are an early-maturing, medium-framed, well-muscled sheep. Katahdin meat is naturally mild, lean, nutritious, and in high demand.
  • Profitable: Katahdin sheep graze well with cattle, allowing for increased profitablity for ranchers. An interesting note when running sheep/cattle together is that cattle poops have a ring of grass around the dung that a cow will not touch but which sheep usually prefer.

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For Sale

We currently have young newly weaned lambs available for a cheap price of $125. We won't have any yearlings available until 2018.

Click Here for additional info and pricing.

No Breeding rams available
Scrapie Codon 171 tested {RR}
Spider Gene tested {NN}.
Test results on file.

Katahdin lamb

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Von Tassen Katahdins