Why do you wish to raise sheep?

There are several reasons to boost sheep. The reason(s) why someone chooses to boost sheep will have a significant impact on the breed(s) that are raised and the manner in which the sheep are fed, managed, and marketed.

sheep sheeseEconomic

Traditionally, sheep are raised on farms and ranches for the purpose of generating an income for the farm and family. While some farms build a majority of their income from raising sheep, sheep production is additional often a secondary or tertiary enterprise on a farm. In truth, sheep raising complements several other agricultural enterprises. It’s a fashionable enterprise for several part-time and lifestyle farmers.

There will be numerous tax benefits to raising sheep or participating in similar agricultural activities. Some individuals raise sheep for the primary purpose of getting their land holdings taxed at (lower) agricultural rates. The legal definition of a farm (for land tax purposes) varies by state.

While all agricultural enterprises are expected to eventually generate a profit (and pay taxes!), many people raise sheep (and alternative livestock) as a “tax write-off.” Farm expenditures, as well as capital purchases, will be written off against normal income. Most sheep-related purchases are exempt from sales tax.


Some folks keep sheep to boost and/or maintain their landscapes. Thanks to their small size, upland grazing preferences, and desire for a mixed diet, sheep are ideal for vegetation management, particularly where the primary vegetation is grass and forbs. Their small hooves minimize soil compaction and erosion. They keep off from fragile riparian areas.

In fact, the opportunities for fee-primarily based grazing by sheep (and goats) are expanding as society seeks a lot of environmentally-friendly ways that to control invasive weeds and other unwanted vegetation. However even after they’re not being employed to clean up a landscape, sheep (and alternative livestock) keep land open and helps to preserve rural landscapes

Quality of lifekrisandsheep

Several families relish the agricultural lifestyle and would like to expose their children to plant cultivation, animal husbandry, and alternative aspects of the agricultural method-of-life. Sheep are an ideal little farm (or ranch) enterprise. They’re particularly appropriate for ladies and youngsters, due to their little size and light nature.

Showing (or exhibiting) sheep will be a pleasurable activity for folks of all ages, however especially youth. Sheep and lambs make glorious four-H and FFA projects. In fact, four-H and FFA is how several people get started within the sheep business. Sheep are appropriate projects for home schoolers. There are several science truthful projects that can be done with sheep and wool.

There’s a bound satisfaction to growing your own food and fiber. Many individuals keep some sheep to supply meat, dairy product, and/or fiber for his or her family. Small flock house owners contribute to the supply of native food. Some people want to support livestock conservation efforts by raising and helping to preserve a rare or heritage breed of sheep.

Several individuals raise sheep as a result of of their want to train and trial herding dogs, sometimes Border Collies. It is exhausting to train and work a herding dog while not gaining access to a flock of sheep. Hair sheep are typically kept for this task, as they are a lot of tolerant of the warmth and rigorous workouts. Wethers are often most well-liked as a result of they’ll be worked on a year-spherical basis.

Sheep raising can be an agreeable activity for retired persons. Sheep are easier to handle than larger livestock and also the investment in breeding stock, equipment, and facilities is sometimes a lot of less. In some things, the sheep enterprise will supplement the retirement income. Empty-nesters and single folks may keep sheep thus they need something to worry for.

Increasingly, people are keeping sheep (and alternative cattle) as pets or companions. Wethers and ewes should be chosen for this purpose. Intact males and horned animals should not be kept as pets. Hair sheep are a smart alternative as a result of they do not need shearing. Bottle babies create the best pets because they will bond to whoever feeds them. Sheep are social animals. Pet sheep ought to be kept in pairs or little flocks.

The love of sheep and animal husbandry is that the motivation for several shepherds, each industrial producers and lifestyle farmers. In truth, if you do not genuinely like sheep, there is a ton easier ways in which to form money or spend your leisure time.

sheep MilkGoal and objectives

Once you’ve got determined to raise sheep and have defined your reason(s) for raising them, it’s time to set goals for the sheep operation, especially if it is a commercial undertaking. Goal-setting includes determining which aspect(s) of sheep production — meat, fiber, or dairy– can be the main focus of the operation, what product can be sold, how they can be sold, and who can be the first client(s). It is a good idea to own a business set up.

Success – a good outcome; accomplishing what was proposed; an occurrence that accomplishes its supposed purpose; the achievement of 1’s aim or goal; money profitability.

Outline success

Success can be defined differently by sheep homeowners. For the commercial producer, success can seemingly be to make a financial profit and come back on investment, though the farm might have further goals that pertain to quality-of-life and stewardship of their farm.

Winning shows or selling expensive breeding stock or club lambs might define success for a few producers. For the performance-minded seed-stock producers, having the ram that ranks the very best within the breed’s sire outline or has the most effective EBV (estimated breeding price) for maternal milk may be the mark of success.

Some producers can live success by achieving bound production goals. Marketing a two hundred p.c lamb crop would be a worthy accomplishment for most producers. Not losing one lamb throughout the lambing season could be a goal of some small-scale producers.

Raising thoughtful, accountable kids who have a healthy respect for animals and also the surroundings may define success for many families that undertake sheep raising as four-H or home faculty projects. Livestock production is an excellent method to reinforce a kid’s science education and encourage science-related careers.

Feed Stuffs for Our Sheep

While forages are the most “natural” diet for sheep and lambs and typically the foremost economical, a sheep’s nutritional requirements will be met by feeding a variety of feedstuffs. The rumen could be a very adaptable organ.

Feedstuffs can substitute for each other so long as the sheep’s nutritional needs are being met, dangerous nutritional imbalances aren’t being created, and the health of the rumen isn’t compromised. Feeding programs should take into account animal necessities, feedstuff availability, and prices of nutrients.

Pasture, forbs, and browse

Pasture, vary, forbs, and browse are usually the primary and most economical supply of nutrients for sheep and lambs, and in many cases, all that a sheep desires to fulfill its nutritional necessities. For example, from the time a ewe weans her lambs through her first 15 weeks of pregnancy, forage will probably meet all her nutritional wants.

Pasture is high in energy, protein, and palatability when it’s in a vegetative state. However, it can have a high moisture content when it’s rapidly growing, and sometimes it will be troublesome for prime-manufacturing animals to eat enough grass to fulfill their nutrient necessities. Vegetation with high moisture content can conjointly cause sheep and lambs to possess loose bowels.

As pasture plants mature, their palatability, digestibility, and nutritive worth decline, thus it is vital to rotate and/or clip pastures to stay plants during a vegetative state. Forbs typically have higher digestibility and crude protein levels than grasses at similar stages of maturity.

Sheep are excellent weed eaters and can often choose to eat weeds over grass. Because of their preference for weeds, sheep are usually used to control invasive or noxious weeds, such as leafy spurge, knapweed, and kudzu.


Hay is forage that has been mowed (cut) and cured (dried) to be used as livestock fodder. It’s typically the first supply of nutrients for sheep throughout the winter months or dry season when most forage plants aren’t actively growing. Hay varies tremendously in quality, and while hay quality will be laid low with plant species, quality is decided largely by the maturity of the plants after they were harvested for hay.

Proper harvesting and storage is necessary to take care of nutritional quality of hay. Hay that is stored outside without cover deteriorates rapidly in quality. The only method to know the “true” nutritive value of hay is to own it analyzed at a forage testing laboratory. A list of certified forage testing laboratories will be found at www.foragetesting.org.

Hay could be a moderate supply of protein and energy for sheep and lambs. Whereas good grass

hays sometimes have as a lot of energy as legume hays, legumes have fifty to 75 percent more protein and 3 times as abundant calcium. But, a good quality grass hay can be a better source of nutrients than an occasional or medium-quality legume hay if it’s a lot of digestible.

The vital thing about hay is to feed the correct hay at the correct time. The isn’t any “best” hay. From an economical standpoint, the “best” hay is the hay that provides nutrients at all-time low cost. Palatability is vital to the extent that the a lot of hay sheep refuse the higher cost it will be.

A decent grass hay is usually additional than adequate for ewes during maintenance and in early to mid-gestation. It almost always meets the requirements of mature rams and wethers. A mixed grass-legume hay will be fed to ewes in late gestation to satisfy their requirements for calcium.

At the same time, a pure legume hay ought to be saved for the lactation diet because of its higher level of protein and calcium. On the opposite hand, if a grass hay is fed throughout late gestation or lactation, it may be necessary to supply a further supply of calcium to pregnant ewes and supplemental calcium and protein to lactating ewes.


       Legumes                      Grasses

Bermudagrass Alfalfa
Bromegrass Birdsfoot trefoil
Kentucky bluegrass Cow peas
Native grasses Lespedeza
Orchardgrass Peanut
Reed canarygrass Red clover
Ryegrass Soybean
Tall fescue White clover/Ladino
Timothy Vetch

Ideally, hay should be purchased (or priced) in keeping with weight. A sheep’s nutritional necessities are based on weight not volume and you will not understand what it prices to feed your sheep unless you recognize how several pounds your sheep are eating and what the feed price per pound or ton is. Wastage (or refusal) conjointly factors into the price of hay.

The weight of hay bales (sq., spherical, and large sq.) varies significantly. When hay is purchased by the bale and you do not know what the bales weigh, you’ll be spending a heap additional for hay than you’re thinking that. Most hay auctions sell hay by the ton. If you get hay from a farm, you can ask the farmer to sell you hay by the ton and weigh the load of hay on a grain scale. Otherwise, you ought to weigh some representative bales, then negotiate a per bale value.

Purchasing hay: by the bale (volume) vs. by the ton (weight)

Price per bale Weight of bale Price per ton
$8.00 40 $400.00
$7.00 40 $350.00
$6.00 40 $300.00
$5.50 40 $275.00
$5.00 40 $250.00
$4.50 40 $225.00
$4.00 40 $200.00
$3.50 40 $175.00
$3.00 40 $150.00
$2.75 40 $137.50
$2.50 40 $125.00
$2.25 40 $112.50
$2.00 40 $100.00
$1.75 40 $87.50
$1.50 40 $75.00
$1.25 40 $62.50
$1.00 40 $50.00

If you turn out your own hay, the value to the sheep operation is that the “chance” value of the hay. An opportunity cost is that the value of a resource for its next-highest-worth various. Within the case of hay, this is often sometimes the income you’d receive from the hay if you sold it (less marketing costs).

Silage or Haylage (ensilage)

Silage (or ensilage) may be a generic term for livestock feed that’s produced by the controlled fermentation of high moisture herbage. Silage will be made from forage or grain crops. It has been successfully fed to sheep; however, special attention must be paid to quality, as moldy silage will cause listeriosis or “circling disease.” Listeriosis is an occasional reason for abortion in ewes.

As with fresh forage, the a high-manufacturing animal often cannot consume enough high moisture silage to fulfill its nutritional needs. Silage is usually wolfed large farms, due to the need for storage and automated feeding equipment. It will be a additional economical source of feed than traditional feeds. For small and medium sized flocks, silage baggage make silage feeding a risk. It is turning into a lot of well-liked to feed balage to sheep.

Concentrates (grain)

It’s oftentimes necessary to feed concentrates to supply the nutrients that forage alone cannot give. This is notably true within the case of high-producing animals. There are times and things where concentrates are a a lot of economical supply of nutrients than forages. Creep feeding and supplemental feeding of lambs has been shown to increase weight gains and market acceptability. The economics of supplemental feeding will vary by operation.

Energy feeds

There are 2 sorts of concentrate feeds: carbonaceous and proteinaceous. Carbonaceous concentrates or “energy” feeds are high in total digestible nutrients (TDN), however have a tendency to be low in protein (8-eleven p.c protein). The most common energy feeds are cereal grains: corn, barley, wheat, oats, milo (grain sorghum), and rye.

It is not necessary to method grains (grind, crack, roll, or crimp) for sheep aside from lambs that are less than six weeks old and lack a functioning rumen. In truth, whole grain diets are healthier for the rumen as a result of they require the animal to try to to its own grinding of the feed. Whole, uncooked soybeans may also be fed to sheep.

Whereas cereal grains are the most concentrated supply of energy, they are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. Feeding a diet that is high in phosphorus and low in calcium will cause urinary calculi in wethers and intact males. Inadequate calcium will lead to exploit fever in pregnant or lactating ewes.

Excessive intake of grain or sudden intake of grain will cause various digestive and metabolic issues in sheep and lambs, including enterotoxemia (overeating disease), acidosis (grain overload), feedlot bloat, and polioencephalomalacia. The rumen always wants time to adjust to a higher concentrate diet.

Energy feeds


Feedstuff Percent TDN
Whole cottonseed 91
Wheat middlings 90
Corn grain 89
Wheat grain 89
Milo (grain sorghum) 89
Barley grain 84
Corn gluten feed 83
Ear corn 82
Rye grain 81
Soybean hulls 77
Molasses 75
Beet pulp pellets 74
Oat grain 74

Protein feeds

Proteinaceous concentrates or “protein feeds” contain high levels of protein (over fifteen %) and are sometimes plant-derived. Examples embody soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and fish meal. Ruminant-derived meat and bone meal cannot (by law) be fed to alternative ruminants, as well as sheep.

Protein amount is mostly a lot of important than protein quality (amino acid content) in ruminant livestock as a result of the microorganisms in the rumen manufacture their own body protein. Livestock do not store excess protein; it’s burned as energy or eliminated (as nitrogen) by the kidneys. Overfeeding protein can not typically increase productivity or carcass quality.

Since parasites usually cause blood loss in sheep and lambs, higher levels of protein within the diet enable the animal to mount a greater immune response to parasites, particularly the blood-sucking barber pole worm.


Urea is not a protein supplement, however is a source of nonprotein nitrogen (NPN) that rumen bacteria will use to synthesize protein. NPN should be used solely together with high-energy feeds like corn. Urea, that is forty five p.c nitrogen and has a crude protein equivalent of 281 percent, ought to not provide over one-third of the whole nitrogen in a diet.
Protein feeds


Feedstuff Percent CP
Urea 281*
Fish meal 62
Soybean meal 48
Whole soybeans 42
Cottonseed meal 41
Linseed meal 34
Commercial protein supplement 36-40
Corn gluten feed 26
Poultry litter 26
Distiller’s grains 25
Brewer’s grains 24
Whole cottonseed 21
Alfalfa pellets 17
Lick tubs 16-24

Commercial Feeds

Several feed firms supply “complete” sheep and/or lamb feeds. These are textured (sweet) or processed (pelleted) feed products which are balanced for the wants of livestock of a explicit species, age, and production category. Complete feeds should not be mixed with different grain, as a result of this can “unbalance” them. For example, adding corn to an entire feed will alter the Ca:P ratio and could end in urinary calculi.

Pelleted rations have a bonus in that the animals cannot kind feed ingredients. Sorting can be a downside when animals are on self-feeders and allowed to eat all they need. Pelleted diets are ideal for free choice self-feeding. Complete feeds come in fifty or a hundred lb. sacks and have a tendency to be more expensive than home-created concentrate rations. For tiny producers, inexperienced shepherds, and 4-H members, commercial feeds are typically recommended.

Pelleted Supplements

To help management feed prices, producers will mix their own simple rations by combining varied feed ingredients, such as corn, soybean meal, and minerals. It’s possible to urge business pelleted supplements that contain vitamins and minerals, and high levels of protein (thirty four-forty%). These supplements will easily be combined with whole grains or by-product feeds to create a balanced concentrate ration.

For example, combining four lbs. of corn with one lb. of a 36% protein pellet would end in a sixteenpercent protein ration that includes vitamins and minerals, making it a “complete” ration. This ration would be appropriate for feeding lactating ewes or finishing feeder lambs.

By-product feeds

There are varied by-merchandise that may be fed to sheep and lambs. Most by-products are offered as a result of processing a ancient feed ingredient to come up with another product. For example, corn gluten meal is a by-product of the corn milling method. Soybean hulls are a byproduct of soybean processing for oil and meal.

Wheat middlings are a by-product of the flour milling business. Beet Pulp is that the vegetable matter, that remains once sugar is extracted from sliced sugar beets. Alternative by-product feeds are by-merchandise of the food and beverage industries. For example, brewers grains may be a by-product of the brewing industry. Citrus Pulp is that the dried residue of peel, pulp and seeds of oranges, grapefruit and alternative citrus fruit.

By-product feeds can typically be economical sources of nutrients for sheep; however, they have be analyzed to determine their nutrient content. The high moisture content of some by-product feeds may limit consumption of the diet ensuing in poor animal performance. High water content could additionally build by-product feeds tough to transport and store. By-product feeds are usually incorporated into least price rations or TMR’s (total mixed rations).


Feedstuff Percent CP Percent TDN
Alfalfa pellets 20 61
Beet pulp (dry) 11 75
Citrus pulp (dry) 7 79
Corn gluten feed 22 80
Corn stalks 5 59
Distiller’s grains (dry) 29 90
Ear corn 9 82
Grain screenings 14 65
Kelp (dry) 7 32
Molasses (cane, dry) 9 74
Poultry litter (dry) 25 64
Soybean hulls 12 77
Wheat middlings 19 82
Whole cottonseed 23 95

Vitamins and minerals

Choosing the proper mineral supplement for sheep will be terribly tricky. Sheep require macro and micro (trace) minerals and you would like to grasp what minerals are deficient (or excess) in your area and in your feedstuffs. Mineral supplements vary from trace mineralized salt (TMS) fortified with selenium to finish mineral mixes containing all of the macro and micro minerals needed by sheep.

In general, TMS fortified with selenium is all that’s needed during the spring and summer when sheep are grazing high quality pastures containing a lot of than 20 p.c clover. Complete mineral mixes are recommended when grazing low quality roughages, beginning four weeks before breeding, during breeding, and during late gestation and early lactation.

Studies have clearly shown that selenium supplementation for pregnant ewes via a mineral mix is superior to selenium injections in late gestation. When high grain diets, sure various feeds, or silage are fed to sheep, further calcium is required within the diet.

The most important minerals are calcium, phosphorus, salt (NaCl), and selenium.
Sources of calcium and phosphorus


Source % Calcium % Phosphorus
 Bonemeal 24 12
 Dicalcium Phosphate 25 18.5
 Limestone 38 0
 Sodium Phosphate 0 22
 Alfalfa leaf meal 2.88 0.34
 Dried kelp 2.72 0.31
 Trace mineral mix 14-18 8-10

It has been scientifically proven that animals are unable to work out the proper balance and amount of minerals required when fed free selection. Some animals might consume additional of what they are doing not want, whereas others might not consume enough (or any), even if they are required. It’s thus counseled, that minerals be thoroughly blended with the ration wherever possible to ensure proper supplementation. But if this is not doable, minerals will be mixed with loose salt.

Granular or “loose” styles of minerals are most well-liked to blocks. Blocks are onerous on the teeth and consumption could be less. Mineral feeders ought to be stuffed with contemporary mineral, placed in readily available areas and shielded from the weather. Sporadic feeding of minerals could cause animals to “binge”. Coccidiostats and antibiotics will be incorporated into mineral mixes.

Sheep ought to not be fed commercial feeds and mineral mixes that have been formulated for different animal species as a result of these product contain copper. Sheep cannot tolerate excess copper in their diets. Excess copper is stored in the liver and can cause a toxic reaction, ensuing within the death of the sheep.

Copper nutrition is difficult, involving interactions with alternative minerals. Producers should not provide supplemental copper to their sheep unless a deficiency has been documented via laboratory tests.

Feed Additives

A feed additive may be a compound added to the ration for a purpose other than to produce nutrients. Varied feed additives will be utilised to boost the health and performance of sheep and lambs.


As well as sub-therapeutic antibiotics (40 g/ton in feed) in lamb rations will help to stop enterotoxemia and respiratory disease in feedlot lambs. Antibiotics will be fed to ewes during the last six weeks of gestation to help prevent infectious abortion. Antibiotics are advocated throughout an “abortion storm” to forestall further losses.


Lasalocid (Bovatec®) and Monensin (Rumensin®) are ionophores that may be added to mineral mixes or complete rations. Ionophores improve feed utilization and gain in cattle by altering rumen fermentation. They are conjointly coccidiostats. They kill coccidia, primarily during the sporozoite stage. Lasalocid (Bovatec®) is labeled as a coccidiostat for confined sheep.

Rumensin® is approved to be used in goats and cattle. Its use in sheep should be approved by a veterinarian. Decoquinate (Deccox®) is additionally a coccidiostat. Deccox stops coccidia from growing. In distinction with Bovatec® and Rumensin®, Deccox may be a quinolone. It is safer to use than ionophores, however is more expensive. Bovatec® and Rumensin® will be toxic to equines.

Feeding Bovatec® or Deccox® to ewes prior to lambing might facilitate to reduce the extent of coccidia in the lambing surroundings. Rumensin® fed to ewes during late gestation could help to prevent abortions caused by toxoplasmosis. Alternative potential benefits to ionophores embrace reduced incidences of acidosis and feed heap bloat. Ionophores have additionally been shown to cut back livestock methane production (CH4) and nitrogen leaching.


Probiotics are simply the other of antibiotics. They are living organisms of beneficial bacteria. Probiotics could improve animal performance by keeping livestock healthy and improving their digestion. Several industrial feeds contain probiotics. Milk replacers typically contain probiotics.

Yeast is a probiotic and has been incorporated into livestock rations. Therefore way, there’s little printed knowledge to support an improvement in animal performance as a results of feeding probiotics or similar additives. More analysis is required before their advantages and economics can be validated.

Ammonium chloride is often added to lamb rations to stop urinary calculi (kidney stones). Ammonium chloride will facilitate to acidify the urine. It should be added to the ration at a rate of 0.five to 1.five percent. It can additionally be mixed as a drench and used to treat lambs with early signs of urinary calculi.

Katahdin Sheep Developed


Katahdin sheep are a breed of hair sheep developed in the United States.  The Katahdin breed originated at the Piel Farm in north central Maine where Michael Piel was an innovator and amateur geneticist who enjoyed raising livestock.  His initial intentions related to establishing a sheep enterprise were to use sheep to graze power lines rather than spraying or mowing the vegetation.  He then developed alternative concepts on how to use sheep for land management.katahdin-sheep colors

In 1956 and 1957, Piel began making inquiries concerning hair sheep once seeing photos during a National Geographic magazine of West African hair sheep.  He eventually created contact with Richard Bond of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service in St. Croix, Virgin Islands who was working with hair sheep flocks on the island.

Three “African Hair Sheep,” as they were known as then, were imported to Maine from St. Croix on November 21, 1957, All were but a year of age, born triplets, unrelated for several generations, and wool less with wool less siblings.  One female was tan in color, the male and another feminine were white.  The price was $10 and $75 shipping for each lamb

The ram lamb, “King Tut,” was used for breeding a few ewes in December 1957, including Tunis, South down, Hampshire, Suffolk, and also the “African” ewe lambs. -From this point on, crosses of many breed combos (including Cheviots and alternative “Down” breeds), were made as Piel tried to see what would produce the kind of ewe he was looking for.  He was significantly selecting for hair coat, meat-kind conformation, high fertility, and flocking instinct.

In the early 1970s, Piel felt he had return close to his goal of a “meat sheep that didn’t require shearing.” He selected from his giant flock approximately 120 of the simplest ewes and called them “Katahdin” sheep when Mt. Katahdin, the best peak within the state of Maine.

In October 1975, Piel imported a few Wiltshire Horn sheep from Wales via Canada.  He supposed to enhance size and bone by incorporating the Wiltshire into the Katahdins.  The primary crosses were born in 1976.

Paul and Margaret Jepson of Vermont had become accustomed to Piel while attempting to locate Wiltshire Horn stock and set the newly developed Katahdins would suit them better.  They purchased some sheep from Piel within the mid-Nineteen Seventies and established the first satellite flock of Katahdins.  The Jepsons then experimented with incorporating St. Croix blood (another hair sheep breed resembling the first “African Hair” type) into their flock in the first Nineteen Eighties.

Heifer Project International, a global livestock development charity, took an interest in Piel’s work and his “improved” hair sheep. HPI realized that Katahdins were similar temperament to the southern U.S. and built a sizeable flock at their center in Arkansas through the Eighties based mostly on stock from Piel Farm and Jepsons.

Michael Piel died suddenly of a heart attack in December of 1976.  The Wiltshire Horn influence in the Piel Farm flock increased within the late Nineteen Seventies as scale and bone improved somewhat.  However, the undesirable presence of horns, decreased prolifically and flocking instinct, and a flightier disposition resulted from incorporating the Wiltshire Horn.  During the early Eighties, under the leadership of Barbara Piel and farm manager Charles Brown, flock choice was against horns.

Katahdin Hair Sheep International was incorporated in 1985 as a breeders’ association and registry by Piel Farm, Heifer Project, and Donald Williams.  The first inspection of animals for the original registry flock book was conducted in 1986.  Stan Musgrave, an animal scientist from Maine acquainted with the Piel flock, inspected all Katahdins known to exist across the United States.  The first KHSI members were accepted in 1987, and 23 breeders agreed to affix KHSI and register their Katahdin stock.

Katahdin low manteniceKatahdin are hardy, adaptable, low maintenance sheep that manufacture superior lamb crops and lean, meaty carcasses.  They do not produce a fleece and therefore don’t need shearing.  They are medium-sized and efficient, bred for utility and for production during a selection of management systems.  Ewes have exceptional mothering ability and lamb simply; lambs are born vigorous and alert.  The breed is ideal for pasture lambing and grass/foragebased management systems.

They have demonstrated wide adaptability.  They were derived from breeds that originated in the Caribbean and British Islands and therefore the state of Maine was their original home.  In cold weather, they grow a very thick winter coat, that then sheds throughout warm seasons.  Their smooth hair coat and alternative adaptive characteristics permit them to tolerate heat and humidity well.  Katahdins also are significantly tolerant of internal and external parasites and if managed rigorously require only minimal parasite treatment.

Katahdins are docile so are easily handled.  They exhibit moderate flocking instinct.

Live weight of a mature ewe in smart condition usually ranges from 120 to a hundred and sixty pounds; a mature ram can weigh one hundred eighty to 250 pounds.  Average birth weight of twins is concerning 8 pounds.

Ewes and rams exhibit early puberty and generally have a long productive life.  Mature ewes sometimes have twins, often producing triplets or quadruplets.  A well-managed and selected flock should manufacture a 200% lamb crop.  Rams are aggressive breeders, generally fertile year spherical, and will settle a giant variety of ewes in the first cycle of exposure.  With choice a flock will consistently lamb all year long. The Katahdin ewe shows a sturdy, protecting mothering instinct, typically lambs without assistance, and has ample milk for her lambs.

Lambs turn out a prime quality, well-muscled carcass that’s naturally lean and consistently offers a terribly mild flavor.  Lambs are appreciate different medium-sized maternal breeds in growth and cut ability.  Lambs are fascinating for specialty markets at a selection of ages and weights, weathers are appropriate for standard North American markets at 95 to one hundred fifteen 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 a few hair naturally sheds as temperature and day length increase seasonally, leaving a shorter, smooth summer coat.

The Katahdin will be utilized in crossbreeding programs.  When crossed with wool sheep, the primary generation offspring will in most cases have wool fleeces with hair intersperse.  It sometimes takes a minimum of three generations, relying on the sort of wool sheep parentage, to obtain offspring with a shedding hair coat and different purebred characteristics.

Sheep Vaccinations

Flock vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important half of a flock health management program. They provide cheap “insurance” against diseases which will commonly affect sheep and lambs.

Clostridial Diseases

On most farms, the sole universally-recommended vaccine for sheep and lambs is that the CD-T toxoid. The CD-T toxoid provides three-means protection against enterotoxemia caused by Clostridium perfringens varieties C and D and tetanus (lockjaw) caused by Clostridium tetani. There are seven and 8-means clostridial vaccines that provide protection against additional clostridial diseases, like blackleg and malignant edema, however the additional protection is often not necessary.

Sort C

Enterotoxemia type C, conjointly referred to as hemorrhagic enteritis or “bloody scours,” affects lambs principally during their first few weeks of life, causing a bloody infection in the little intestine. Sort C enterotoxemia is often related to indigestion and is predisposed by a modification in feed, such as starting creep feeding or a step-up within the milk offer, perhaps caused by the loss of a littermate. The only way to protect lambs from sort C enterotoxemia is to vaccinate their dams during late pregnancy.

Type D

Enterotoxemia type D is “classic” overeating disease. It is conjointly known as “pulpy kidney disease.” Sort D enterotoxemia sometimes affects lambs that are over one month old. Usually it is the biggest, fastest growing lamb(s) in the flock that are affected. Type D overeating disease is usually precipitated by a sudden modification in feed that causes the bacteria, already present in the lamb’s gut, to proliferate, resulting in a toxic, usually fatal reaction. Sort D is most typically observed in lambs that are consuming high concentrate diets, but can conjointly occur in lambs nursing significant milking dams.

Passive immunity

To confer passive immunity to lambs through the colostrum (first milk), ewes ought to be vaccinated with the CD-T toxoid approximately 4 weeks prior to lambing. Ewes lambing for the primary time ought to be vaccinated twice in late pregnancy, four weeks apart. Maternal antibodies can defend lambs for six to eight weeks so long as lambs consumed adequate amounts of colostrum. It’s suggested that a lamb consume 10 percent of its body weight in colostrum.


Sheep should receive their first CD-T vaccination once they are approximately vi to 8 weeks of age, followed by a booster four weeks later. If pastured animals are later brought into confinement or dry lot for concentrate feeding, a 3rd vaccination ought to be given. Some consultants recommend giving artificially-reared lambs multiple vaccinations.

Sheep whose dams were not vaccinated for C and D will be vaccinated with some success at two to 3 days old and once more in two weeks. However, later vaccinations will probably be a lot of effective, as colostral antibodies usually interfere with vaccinations at very young ages. The lamb’s immature immune system may conjointly not be able to retort to vaccination at such a young age.

A better alternative might be to vaccinate offspring from non-vaccinated dams after they are approximately four weeks old, followed by a booster 4 weeks later. Anti-toxins can give immediate short-term immunity if dams weren’t vaccinated or in the event of disease outbreak or vaccine failure.

Feeder Sheep

Purchased feeder lambs ought to be vaccinated for kind D enterotoxemia at the time of purchase and a couple of to four weeks later. Feeder lambs purchased as 4-H or FFA comes ought to receive two type D vaccinations, if they were not vaccinated at the farm of origin.


Lambs whose dams weren’t vaccinated for tetanus should be given the tetanus antitoxin at the time of docking and castrating, especially if elastrator bands are used. An antitoxin provides immediate short-term immunity. If a tetanus toxoid product is run at the time of docking or castration, it will not provide adequate immunity, as toxoids take ten days to a pair of weeks to produce immunity and need a booster for complete immunity.

Rams and pet sheep should be boostered annually with the CD-T toxoid. As with ewes, they require 2 vaccinations the first time they’re vaccinated.

Different diseases

As well to clostridial diseases, there are various other diseases for that producers may wish to vaccinate. The use of additional vaccines depends upon the health standing of the flock, the perceived disease risk of the flock, and prevalence of diseases in the geographic space where the flock is located. In the U.S. (for sheep), there are licensed vaccines for sore mouth, foot rot, caseous lymphadenitis, abortion, e. coli scours, parainfluenza-3 (PI-3), epididymitis, and rabies. Vaccines that are not approved for sheep are also typically used.

Sore Mouth

There is a vaccine for sore mouth (contagious ecthyma, orf), a viral skin disease commonly affecting sheep and goats. The vaccine is live. It causes sore mouth infection (lesions) at a location (on the animal) and time of the producer’s selecting. Ewes ought to be vaccinated well ahead of lambing. Show animals ought to be vaccinated well before of the primary show.

To use the vaccine, a wool-less space on the animal is scarified, and therefore the rehydrated vaccine is applied to the spot with a brush or similar applicator. Ewes can be vaccinated inside the ear or under the tail. Lambs can be vaccinated within the thigh. Because the sore mouth vaccine is a live vaccine and sore mouth is extremely contagious to humans, care must be taken when applying the vaccine. Gloves ought to be worn when handling the vaccine or animals with sore mouth.

Flocks which are free from sore mouth ought to in all probability not be vaccinated as a result of the sore mouth vaccine will introduce the virus to the flock/premises. Once sore mouth vaccination is begun, it ought to be continued annually.


Footrot is one in all the foremost ubiquitous and economically devastating diseases in the sheep business. It causes considerable economic loss because of the costs associated with treating it and therefore the premature culling of carrier animals. There are two vaccines for footrot and foot scald in sheep: Footvax® ten Strain and Volar™ Footrot Bacterin.

Neither vaccine prevents the diseases from occurring, but when employed in conjunction with alternative management practices like selection/culling, regular foot trimming, foot soaking/bathing, etc., vaccinations can help scale back infection levels. Footrot vaccines should be administered each three to 6 months, prior to anticipated outbreaks of hoof problems (i.e. prior to the wet/rainy season).

Abscesses (at the injection web site) are not uncommon with the footrot vaccines. The limitation of footrot vaccines is that they may not embrace the strain of foot rot that is gift during a explicit flock.

Caseous lymphadenitis (CL)

There is a vaccine for caseous lymphadenitis in sheep. CL affects primarily the lymphatic system and ends up in the formation of abscesses in the lymph nodes. It’s highly contagious. When it affects the internal organs, it evolves into a chronic wasting disease.

The cost of CL to the sheep industry is in all probability grossly underestimated. The CLA vaccine is convenient to use because it is combined with CD-T. Vaccination will reduce the amount of abscesses in the flock, but it can not forestall the disease from occuring.

Abortionpregnant sheep

Abortion is when a feminine loses her offspring throughout pregnancy or provides birth to stillborn, weak, or deformed lambs. There are vaccines (individual and combination) for several of the infectious causes of abortion in sheep: enzootic (EAE/Chlamydia sp.) and vibriosis (Campylobacter fetus).

Abortion vaccines ought to be administered previous to breeding. Ewes being vaccinated for the first time ought to receive a second vaccination (booster) in mid-pregnancy. Producers with downside flocks could think about giving a booster further. Risk factors for abortion embody an open flock and/or a history of abortions within the flock.

Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine (on the market within the U.S.) for toxoplasmosis, another common reason behind abortion in sheep. Since the disease-causing organism is carried by domestic cats, the most effective protection is to manage the farm’s cat population by spaying/neutering and keeping cats from contaminating feed sources.


Epididymitis could be a major reason behind reduced fertility in rams from western range states. There are vaccines for epididymitis (Brucella ovis), but none are deemed totally effective. Moreover, vaccination interferes with the ability to eliminate infected rams from the flock, as vaccinated rams can test positive for B. ovis.

E.Coli Scours

Scours in baby lambs will be caused by E. coli. There is a vaccine which will be administered to ewes at the identical time as CD-T to pass immunity to lambs through the colostrum. An different to vaccination is to administer newborn lambs oral E. coli antibody at birth.


Though the danger to sheep is usually minimal, rabies vaccination may be suggested if the flock is located in a very rabies-infected space, the animals are valuable, and livestock have access to wooded areas or areas frequented by raccoons, skunks, foxes, or alternative known carriers of rabies. Frequent interaction with livestock may be another excuse to consider vaccinating.

The price of the rabies vaccine relative to the worth of the animals ought to be thought of. The large animal rabies vaccine is approved for use in sheep. Producers should consult their veterinarian regarding rabies vaccination. Some states need rabies vaccination for exhibition at fairs and shows. All dogs and cats on the farm should be vaccinated against rabies.

Autogenous vaccines

When no business vaccine is out there, autogenous or custom vaccines will be made. They are usually created from bacteria or viruses that have been isolated on a farm in conjunction with a disease. Autogenous vaccines are sometimes not as effective as industrial vaccines.

Giving Vaccines

Most vaccines are given subcutaneously (sub-Q), i.e. beneath the skin. Some vaccines are given intra muscularly (IM). Occasionally, some are given topically (e.g. sore mouth) or intra nasally (e.g. Nasalgen®). For subcutaneous vaccines, use a one/2 or three/four in., 18- or twenty-gauge needle. Subcutaneous vaccinations can be given over the ribs, behind the armpit, or high up on the neck. The needle used to withdraw vaccine from the bottle ought to not be the same needle used to inject the animal.

In order for vaccination programs to achieve success, label directions should be fastidiously followed. Vaccines should be stored, handled, and administered properly. Solely healthy sheep and lambs ought to be vaccinated. It’s additionally necessary to notice that vaccines have limitations and that the immunity imparted by vaccines can typically by inadequate or overwhelmed by disease challenge.

Future vaccines

With the increasing role of small ruminants in small farms and sustainable farming systems, hopefully animal health companies can develop and license more vaccines for sheep.

Scientists are currently operating to develop vaccines to guard tiny ruminants against Haemonchus contortus and other Castro-intestinal and blood-sucking parasites. The research is promising. Thus so much, the challenge has been developing effective vaccines using recombine DNA technology, as other strategies of vaccine generation aren’t economically possible.

Not vaccinating

Many sheep producers can tell you that they never vaccinate. Different producers vaccinate for diseases which don’t seem to be a high risk. Vaccination could be a type of risk management. Every producer should weights the professionals and cons of vaccinating for a specific disease. If the price of vaccination excess the expected losses, then vaccination is in all probability not cost-effective. Conversely, if expected losses exceed the price of vaccination, the vaccination could be a sensible risk management tool.

At the same time, it is not advisable to wait until you’ve got a disease outbreak before instituting a vaccination program. The risk of a disease’s outbreak should be the factors that’s used to see the requirement for vaccination. A producer’s tolerance for risk will conjointly come back into play.