We are firm believers in record keeping. It tells us where we’ve been and can help guide where we want to go. For decades and decades, sheep breeders have been tracking birth weights, weaning weights, average daily gain, and lambing and weaning percentages among other things. These simple data are extremely informative in making decisions as to which ewes stay on the farm to reproduce or need to be replaced. These data may be all that’s necessary for your flock, but there is more detailed information available today that can help with those important decisions and especially with which animals to purchase to improve your flock.
The following are some additional traits that should be considered when purchasing Katahdins:
- Maternal skill and milk production
- Lamb vigor at birth
- Lambing difficulty
- Birth type and Rearing type
- Dam’s reproductive history
- Parasite resistance
Depending on how you raise your sheep, you understandably may be more interested in some traits than others. If you lamb indoors in winter, we can assure you that lamb vigor at birth is extremely important, just as parasite resistance is when lambing on pasture in spring. Some of the latest technologies in the livestock industry are now available to help sheep producers evaluate those traits and make informed decisions. These essentially are a way of managing risk, which is especially important when purchasing new animals, such as your next breeding ram. The National Sheep Improvement Program can help with this through the use of Estimated Breeding Values.