Bel-Fair Farm
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Dorper Sheep - Katahdin Sheep
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464
Phone: (931) 722-7758
Email: Elaine@BelfairFarm.com

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Katahdin Sheep
Katahdin Rams Katahdin Ewes

The development of the breed began in the late 1950's with the importation of a small number of haired sheep from the Caribbean by Michael Piel of Maine. The Piel Farm had several thousand sheep at the time and Piel felt that "progress in selection for traits important to the production of meat would be greatly enhanced by the elimination of wool as a major factor for selection." His goal was to combine the hair coat, prolificacy, and hardiness of the Virgin Island sheep with the meat conformation and rate of growth of wool breeds. After almost 20 years of cross breeding in every conceivable combination" and selecting the individuals with the desired combination of traits, Piel eventually collected a flock of ewes he called Katahdins, named after Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

Katahdins have demonstrated wide adaptability. In cold weather, they grow a very thick winter coat which then sheds during warm seasons. Their smooth hair coat and other adaptive characteristics allow them to tolerate heat and humidity well.

Katahdins are also significantly more tolerant of internal and external parasites than wooled sheep, and if managed carefully require only minimal parasite treatment. They are docile, so are easily handled. They exhibit moderate flocking instinct.

ThymeLive weight of a mature ewe in good condition usually ranges from 125 to 185 pounds; a mature ram will weigh 180 to 250 pounds. Average birth weight of twins is about 8 pounds. Ewes and rams exhibit early puberty and generally have a long productive life. Mature ewes usually have twins, occasionally producing triplets or quadruplets. A well-managed and selected flock should produce a 200% lamb crop.

Rams are aggressive breeders, generally fertile year round, and can settle a large number of ewes in the first cycle of exposure. With selection a flock can consistently lamb throughout the year. The Katahdin ewe shows a strong, protective mothering instinct, usually lambs without assistance, and has ample milk for her lambs. Rejection of lambs is rare.

Lambs produce a high quality, well-muscled carcass that is naturally lean and consistently offers a very mild flavor. Lambs are comparable to other medium-sized maternal breeds in growth and cutability. Lambs are desirable for specialty markets at a variety of ages and weights; wethers are appropriate for conventional North American markets at 95 to 115 pounds.

The hair coat of the Katahdin varies in length and texture among individuals and can be any color or color combination. It generally consists of coarse outer hair fibers and an undercoat of fine wooly fibers that becomes very thick and longer if cold weather sets in and day length decreases. This undercoat and some hair naturally sheds as temperature and day length increase seasonally, leaving a shorter, smooth summer coat. While some uses may be found for the shed fiber, it is generally not harvested.

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Last modified: July 27, 2014