Registered Katahdin Breeding Stock
The Katahdin breed was developed in Maine as an easy care sheep, that sheds its hair. Bred near the rocky peak, Mt. Katahdin, these sheep were selected for their production traits like good maternal instincts and growing well on grass. Micheal Piel bred this composite sheep from wool breeds and hair sheep. Therefore, Katahdins hold the best characteristics of both, a meaty carcass and strong parasite resistance. They are best known for their maternal traits, because they excel at being great mothers who wean 200% lamb crop.
Ewes eat a forage diet all year. They are rotated regularly with electric netting on our pastures. This provides the best nutrition for the lambs and allows for quick regrowth of grass. We try to balance the need for clean pastures with the need to challenge the lambs' immune systems. In this way we can identify stock which are more resistant to parasites.
They graze the pastures well into the winter with our stockpiled grass and then eat hay. They are fed some whole grains in late gestation and early lactation to aid the lambs' growth. Ewes lamb outside on pasture near the barn in March/April. Then they are jugged inside the barn for a few days to secure the ewe/lamb bond. As the flush of green grass comes on later in the spring, lambs are ready to utilize that nutrition fully for growth.
We select for a moderate size ewe with an ‘A’ coat, who can successfully wean twins. Yearlings will lamb for the first time at 12 months old. We strive for balanced EBVs that focus on growth, parasite resistance and prolificacy.
A Breed Whose Time Has Come
The National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) is a national sheep database which compares raw performance data. Since 2013, we have used registered rams in NSIP and kept performance data on their lambs. This database generates EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values) for the sheep in order to accurately compare them. As a result, this information links flocks all over the country and it can be used to make an accurate prediction of how an animal will perform. We use those EBVs to identify elite ewes and rams. In this way, we can select breeding stock based on unbiased data.
Structural correctness is an important part of the selection process and so visual appraisal will always be integral to our system, as well. Utilizing both visual appraisal and performance data together is key to true progress.