The Katahdin Hair Sheep breed developed beginning in the late 1950’s by Michael Piel of Maine. He imported some hair sheep from the Caribbean region and then worked for approximately 20 years crossing them with various breeds including the Suffolk and other British breeds until he obtained a flock of sheep that had good meat confirmation, growth rates, and hardiness. He named this breed after Mt. Katahdin, the tallest peak in the state of Maine.
The Katahdin breed has a very thick hair coat with an undercoat of wooly fibers that grows to a few inches in length in the fall and then sheds out in the spring. Shearing is not required. This hair/wool coat is not suitable for wool spinning.
Katahdins display a resistance to internal and external parasites and require only minimal treatment. Most Katahdin sheep are naturally polled although a small number may be born with scurs or horns.
Katahdins are easy to care for, being adaptable to varying climates, feed and management systems. They are easy lambers with strong maternal instincts and produce a good amount of milk. They most often will have twins, but triplets or quadruplets are also sometimes possible. Their lambs grow quickly and produce a lean, well-muscled carcass when raised on pasture, with a mild flavor.
Mature ewes can weigh 125 to 185 lbs. Mature rams can weigh between 180 and 250 lbs. The average birth weight of twins is about 8 lbs. Ewe and ram lambs become fertile at about 8 months of age, giving birth to their first offspring at just over one year of age after a 5-month gestation period. Rams are aggressive breeders and are generally fertile all year long. Ewes have good mothering instincts and very rarely reject an offspring. Little or no lambing assistance is needed.