Katahdin Sheep
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About Katahdin SheepAbout Katahdin Sheep



The development of the breed began in the late 1950's withrnthe importation of a small number of haired sheep from the Caribbean by MichaelrnPiel of Maine. The Piel Farm had several thousand sheep at the time and Pielrnfelt that progress in selection for traits important to the production of meatrnwould be greatly enhanced by the elimination of wool as a major factor forrnselection. His goal was to combine the hair coat, prolificacy, and hardinessrnof the Virgin Island sheep with the meat conformation and rate of growth ofrnwool breeds. He began to experiment with crosses between the hair sheep andrnvarious British breeds, especially Suffolk. After almost 20 years of crossingrnthe resulting hybrids “in every conceivable combination” and selecting thernindividuals with the desired combination of traits, Piel eventually collected arnflock of ewes he called Katahdins, named after Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Duringrnthe mid 1970's the Wiltshire Horn, a shedding breed from England, wasrnincorporated into the flock to add size and improve carcass quality.

rnrnrnFrom this original flock, new breeders have been able tornexpand the number of Katahdin sheep in North America and many other countries,rnand select carefully for hair coat, carcass quality, and reproductivernefficiency. In 1986, a breeders organization, Katahdin Hair Sheep Internationalrn(KHSI) was formed.

Its purposes are to:
 * Register individual Katahdins and record performance.
 * Assist in promotionrnand marketingrnrn 
 * Encourage researchrnand development related to the breed.rnrn rnrnAll Katahdins eligible for registration are inspected afterrnone year of age to insure conformity with the standard of type. Breeders arernrequired to be KHSI members to register sheep or request flock inspection.rn(Note: Lambs from 100% registered parents born after 1/1/98 no longer requirerninspection).

rnrnThere are provisions for producers to follow an upgradingrnprogram to develop a purebred Katahdin flock by recording each cross with KHSI.

rnrnrnKatahdin sheep display many desirable economic traits. Inrnorder to scientifically document and test these traits, Katahdin breeders havernbeen involved in several experimental trials.

rnrnStudies of internal parasite tolerance in Arkansas indicaternthat Katahdin sheep possess a significantly higher degree of parasiternresistance than wool sheep that they were compared to. Heat tolerance trialsrndemonstrated a similar relationship. Other traits being studied at researchrninstitutions include out-of-season breeding, prolificacy and fertility factors,rncarcass quality and meat flavor, and growth performance.

rnrnSource: Katahdin Hair Sheep Internationalrnrn

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