Why Raise Katahdins?
Set up costs are relatively low. A lean-to or barn with dry bedding provides adequate shelter. Most fencing is page wire or multi-strand electric fence.Katahdins are a hardy breed that adapt well to various pasture situations. Two to four sheep may be raised on an acre of average pasture. The sheep are non-selective grazers and will readily feed on "nuisance plants" such as snowberry (buckbrush) and leafy spurge.Water and salt should be fed free choice. One pound of grain may be fed per day. Daily dry feed requirements are four to six pounds per animal. Sheep mineral supplements, which do not contain copper, are important for a well-balanced Katahdin diet.
Katahdins are very prolific offering a quick return on initial investments. Ewes are capable of breeding at seven months. The gestation period is just five months. With controlled management ewes may produce three lamb crops in two years. After the first lambing, twins are the norm and triplets are not uncommon. Twins average eight pounds at birth and mature quickly to traditional market weight.
Katahdins are easy lambers and excellent mothers. Ewes may by confined in four by four foot lambing pens prior to delivery. Depending on the new lamb's activity, producers generally choose to confine them for one to four days with their own food and water supply.Tagging and recording can easily be dealt with before returning them to the flock. Creep feeding for lambs is encouraged. Lambs may be weaned at three months. Katahdin ewes will reproduce for up to eight years with some still active at age 12.
A young ram (seven to 12 months) can service 18-20 ewes per heat cycle, while a fully mature ram can service 25-30 ewes in a confined breeding pen, or 20-30 ewes in a range situation.
The Katahdin sheep breed is raised strictly for its meat. The carcass dresses out clean and easy. It is heavily muscled, relatively lean and very mild-flavoured. The meat may be eaten hot or cold, and may be readily substituted in most beef or pork recipes. Katahdin sheep producers often report little or no taste variation in the meat past the lamb stage.Meat samples are very well received by consumers at agricultural shows. Federated Co-ops and specialty meat shops feature Katahdin lamb from Canadian registered stock.
Katahdins are truly a low maintenance animal. The shedding coat of the Katahdin does not require shearing nor does the tail require docking. Crutching is also unnecessary.Katahdins adapt well to climatic extremes. They start to shed their thick winter coat at the first break in cold weather, or at the onset of lambing in ewes. The coat can be any colour or colour pattern. Coat types range from an A to a C grade with an A coat being the most desirable (details in Breed Guidebook).
Basic Katahdin maintenance includes periodic hoof trimming, 7 or 8 way vaccination, and parasite treatment. Studies in Arkansas, USA have shown Katahdin Sheep to exhibit resistance to some of the more common diseases and parasites.
The docile nature of this breed make it an excellent choice for young families through to elderly farmers. The animals are easy to handle and have a strong flocking instinct. Guard dogs, llamas and donkeys are used for predator control.Sheep manure is sought after by organic gardeners. The product can be used without aging, and contains a higher nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content then that of cows or horses.
An ideal choice for today's livestock producer for the following reasons:
The Katahdin Sheep is a nationally recognized breed raised strictly for its meat. Katahdins adapt well to various climatic and forage conditions; and require no shearing, tail docking or crutching. These low-maintenance factors along with consumer appeal for the mild flavoured meat are major reasons why many producers view Katahdins as an ideal livestock breed for today's full time farmer, part time farmer, or acreage owner.
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