01: A two year old ewe with her twins. She is genotyped RR, exhibits parasite resistance and has a nicely balanced set of EPDs. She is a good illustration our breeding goals. A ewe lamb retained from her as a yearling is also already working in our system.
02: This is a ewe that at three has raised some exceptional lambs. Her family line is one capable of producing potential rams.
03: With focus on a balanced set of EPDs and low FEC, these ewe lambs that have been selected as potential replacement ewes
04: At eight this ewe continues to raise quality lambs. Her lambs have successfully gone on to work in a diverse set of management systems.
2355 Township Rd 457
Loudonville, OH 44842 USA
In 1997, I purchased a small flock of commercial Katahdins. The flock flourished and I was immediately challenged to learn more about the Katahdin breed and their place in the sheep industry. I found I was able to produce a lamb that weaned at 60 pounds, which fits a very profitable market for meat producers. The second desired weight for lambs in our area is 110 pounds; this is a target weight at about six or seven months. With a growing understanding of the meat sheep market, I moved into a registered flock and became focused on developing seed stock that supports the commercial producer’s needs. My original stock all tested QR and RR for scrapie susceptibility at codon 171. Today my flock remains entirely QR and RR, providing genetic scrapie resistance.
My Katahdins live on pasture, with three-sided run-in sheds for shelter. Forage is the main ingredient in my operation; I look to my Katahdins to be efficient grazers. Grass is an economical choice and hay is substituted in the months when grass is no longer available. Shelled corn is fed to ewes during late gestation and early lactation. Ewes at lambing are brought into our barn with new born lambs and spend a day or two in a jug. They then move out into a mixing pen and return, in small groups, to a pasture. My lambing takes place before the pastures have grass to offer, so my lambs are creep fed through weaning. Once weaned, they finish on grass.
My ewes are a moderate size weighing approximately 150 pounds. Production records are kept on every animal. My ideal ewes need to lamb without incident and raise their lambs skillfully and without assistance. Adjusted weights on lambs at 60 days are looked at carefully, as are FAMACHA scores. In addition to extensive farm records that can recognize an exceptional ewe, we now submit data and participate in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). NSIP collects data from many Katahdin breeders across the country and provides participants with Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs). EPDs not only give a breeder a more detailed look at the assets of each animal, they also allow cross flock comparisons. The information furnished on specific traits provides yet another dimension to selection. With so many tools for flock and individual improvement, balance is important and the animal as a whole needs to be considered. My group of brood ewes now rank, uniformly, with above average EPDs for all traits. Those ewes ranking in the top 10% for multiple traits are frequently my ram producers.
Even greater emphasis is put on the performance and qualities exhibited by rams. I prefer a reasonably sized ram weighing in the 230 pound range. While each ram’s individual assets are recognized, again balance is desired over one or two outstanding characteristics. Traits of particular worth are parasite resistance, vigor and phenotype. I also attempt to select rams with a much stronger set of balanced EPDs. I rely on rams to advance the flock as a whole. A carefully selected ram can be a flock’s single most powerful asset. We recently added three new outside rams. Two are MO bred; one by Birch Cove Farm and one by Fahrmeier Farms. The third was bred in VA by Rolling Springs Farms.
In 2004, I began selectively deworming the flock using the FAMACHA method. Every animal’s score was recorded approximately 8 times a year. Animals needing to be treated were also noted. Within a reasonably short time it became evident which animal repeatedly exhibited a desirable FAMACHA score. The collective scores of each animal soon became one of the criteria used to make selections and culling decisions. In 2006, I was invited to join a progressive group of Katahdin breeders working with the aide of a SARE grant to further identify parasite-resistant Katahdins using fecal egg counts (FECs). This study identified sires with higher resistance and the ability to pass that resistance on to their lambs. The FEC data was also submitted to the National Sheep Improvement Program. We are now participating in the innovative work of formulating an FEC EPD.
Breeding-quality ewe and ram lambs are offered each year. Prospective ram lambs are accompanied by supporting data. Occasionally adults are available for sale to open places for retained stock.
Select for increased and documented parasite resistance;
Maintain balance, while improving EPDs;
Preserve hardiness, exceptional mothering and forage efficiency.
Traveling to other sheep operations, seminars, meetings and symposiums has broadened my knowledge. I have benefited from the shared wisdom of many shepherds, willing to be mentors and now friends. I will not lose sight of the original intent of the Katahdin breed which is economics. Through careful breeding and selection, Wade-Jean Farm is dedicated to developing an exceptional group of Katahdin Sheep. Inquiries are always welcome.