Friday, August 22, 2008

An Apology and Sheep...

First of all let me throw out a quick apology to all those people who have e-mailed me with encouragement or asking about pricing/pork/beef/eggs. I have a bit of a backlog in the e-mail inbox and I am slowly going through it, but I haven't had much time as I have been working roughly 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM everyday this week on the house and then on church work. It is a crazy time, but it is very fulfilling!

Secondly, I know I have talked about sheep multiple times on this blog, but while we were at the Iowa State Fair (the greatest) I picked up a brochure from the Midwest Katahdin Hair Sheep Association. They had some sheep on display in the Avenue of Breeds, so I was also able to see them in person (I may have noticed them before, but without much thought).

As I read through the brochure a few things popped out at me. I'll list those below, but if you have any experience raising Katahdin sheep or even better marketing them or other sheep I (and probably others that read the blog) would love to hear your thoughts. Here is what I found interesting:
  • The bred was devolped my Michael Piel in Maine (After a little more searching it looks like he used some African stock to get started and part of his growing flock also ended up at the Heifer Project International farm.
  • They have good flocking instincts and work good from Canada to the Equator (I had worried about their lack of wool in Iowa winters).
  • The flavor of the meat has a "mild lamb" taste. I'm no lamb expert and I've only had it once, so could someone explain a "mild lamb" taste?
  • Most are white in color, but they can be red or brown (I would like some red or brown sheep to go with my dun Dexters!).

3 comments:

Mike W. said...

We have some friends who raise Katahdin sheep and have purchased lamb from them. It is very good!

Rich said...

"...The flavor of the meat has a "mild lamb" taste. I'm no lamb expert and I've only had it once, so could someone explain a "mild lamb" taste?..."

From what I've read about hair sheep, they fatten like goats (from the inside out) and deposit more fat around the internal organs. Since most of the "strong lamb" flavors come from the fat, because there is less of a fatcap deposited on the outside of the carcass of a hair sheep compared to a wooled sheep, they would have a "lighter" taste. Even though I haven't eaten much lamb or mutton, I would guess that hair sheep mutton would taste more like wooled sheep lamb.

"...Most are white in color, but they can be red or brown (I would like some red or brown sheep to go with my dun Dexters!)..."

The ones I have seen were yellowish tan (could have just been dirty), light brown, red, but usually were multi-colored combinations of all of the above.

colliefarm said...

I have three friends who raise Katahdins with much success in WA state. One claims that she can butcher up to 2 years old and not get any "mutton-ey" flavor (on grass fed sheep).

Though all 3 of my friends have related animals, one has really nutty, hard-to-handle sheep, the other two have very calm sheep (speaking from the perspective of working them with dogs).

Certainly the lack of need for shearing is a plus, we have few shearers in our region, and if meat is your main goal, hair sheep are great. One of my friends has selected for more pinto-like markings & colors in her Katahdins, they are more attractive than the creamy white ones, imo.

I also have two friends who raise Barbados hair sheep, with good success. They are a little rowdier in dispostion, and seem to have smaller carcasses.

I am facing the breed-choice decision right now myself, and am attracted to the hair sheep for all their advantages. And yet-- if you *can* draw extra income from good wool, then it seems to make more sense to maximize your crop's potential that way. Decisions, decisions!

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