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Discussion Starter #1
What is the normal growth rate (weight) for Katahdins?
Mine are 7 months old now and they are about 65lbs average. Does this seem like the right weight for their age? Thanks!

Kevin
 

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I hope that's light. A lot will depend on thier feed, my lambs (not Kats) get a corn oats soy creep ration (or similar) free choice. What were they fed? If my Rideaus didn't get that creep feed, growing on just mum and native grass pasture they'd be around that.
 

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They were strictly on a hay and pasture. Just this week, I have started giving them rolled Oats, other than that I havent supplemented any other grains..... yet.
When I look at my Kats, they look healthy and fed well, I just thought they should have a little more weight to them. Yes I would say that 65lbs would be on the light side. When I get home tonight, I'm going to weigh them again.

What would you say the average weight should be around 7 months old?
I'm sure it varies per breed.
 

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If youre trying to grow them as fast as you can , they should be getting all the grain they want for the first few months. Ive had Dorper/Katahdin lambs that weighed 50 lbs at less than 2 months old, and they should be 80-100 by 4 months
This lamb is 1 week short of being 3 months old:
 

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Yikes! We are way behind. As you can tell, I still learning what to do. Thanks for the pic too! I was just thinking this morning, that I have to build a simple feed trough like what you have. After my honey-do list is done (like that'll ever get finished) I'll get my feed trough done this weekend.
 

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WHoa slow down there Kevin/Toni,

Your sheep are what is refered to as "grass-fed" lamb. Bearfoot farm is raising "feed-lot" lamb. There is a big different in the husbandry and most importantly the taste....I have a friend who raises Katahdins. He tells me they are a slow grower on grass only. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it that way. My texel cross sheep are raised 100% grass year round. the flock I purchased my ewes from has been raised mostly on grass as well. My line is selected for putting on weight with little to no grains. My buyers are paying a premimum for "grass-fed" lamb. Check out the latest research on organic versus conventional meat animals. What I have seen shows there is little to no difference there. Instead researchers have found the difference in quality comes from "feed-lot" versus "grass-fed" Clearly grass-fed is best. You do the research and see if I'm right.

Grains cost a lot of money, feed-lots require more intervention like worming and daily feeding. Pasture raised sheep in rotational grazing is relatively cheap (if you have the land and electric netting). No worming needed if you keep moving them to new pasture and don't return them to the paddock for 30 or more days...breaks the worm cycle. Yes feed-lot lambs can be at 130-150 pounds in six months and my grass-fed lambs can take seven to nine months, depending on the quality of pasture used, but they are not the same meat in the end.

Of course I also don't support the current trend in 4-H circles of raising show lambs that look like ponys in size at six months...get on board the "new" way of thinking. Natural grass fed meat is BEST, which is really "old school" farming.

my two cents for what it's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
FreeRanger,

Oh, I'm not jump'in the gun on this. Not sure I could afford having grain in front of them all the time. I do want to start introducing oats to them though. I will have to say that Bearfootfarm surprised me with their recorded weights vs age. I didn't realize there was that much of a difference between feed-lot and pasture fed. Like I said earlier, my sheep look real healthy. Certainly not overweight, just a real nice proportion...if that all makes sense? Tonight they get weighed for the official reading.

So would you say that 65 - 70 lbs is not a bad weight for Katahdins on hay and pasture that are 7 months old?
 

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Its not a bad weight,.... the difference is you lost that first 3-4 months of exceptional feed conversion ability, lambs have. And no, its not all fat, they put on muscle. I'll post a picture of some lamb I just got back from the butcher today! Grass fed is fine, so is organic,.......if you have the market, kats would seem to offer an advantage being a hair sheep in that they (as advertised at least) hold the mild flavour longer. I've had katahadin lamb chops, they were excellent, but no better than mine. The cost of grain is true for any meat, and lamb (generally being an item that is difficult to find fresh) always commands a premium price. Where I am, it's get those lambs up to weight fast, to heck with the price of grain, the lambs will pay you for feeding them with that awesome feed conversion. If its was 170/ tonne corn and 400 soy, well finished beef is up per pound and lamb's gone even higher. The longer you keep a lamb the more opportunities you give it to get picked off by something.
 

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Here ya go 98 days







The above picture is a thumbnail click it for a larger image.

From left to right, a shoulder roast boned and rolled, a leg steak, and then loin chops.

Not much fat, but to be fair they're not feedlotted either, they do get all the pasture they want. This year it was just oats corn and soy, mixed grass hay and clover/native grass pasture.
 

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"Your sheep are what is refered to as "grass-fed" lamb. Bearfoot farm is raising "feed-lot" lamb"

WRONG!!
Mine are raised on pasture and given CREEP FEED free choice. And up until about 4 months the grass, hay and grain they eat is minimal anyway. They get most of the weight gain from nursing.
If you want to get them up to market weight you have to give them the nutrition. It also get them ready for weaning at an earlier age. If youre keeping them it doesnt matter how fast they grow.

http://www.pipevet.com/articles/Creep_Feeding.htm
 

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Sorry to say it, but that may be somewhat small. We just shipped 74 head of 4month old lambs (pure katahdins)and they averaged 82lbs. I did pull out 15 of the biggest ewe lambs (based on my GenOivs stats) and 6 ram lambs that were 110 - 118 pounds. Normally we wean at about 3 months of age and then feed for about 3 weeks prior to shipping. This year the corrals were just way to wet, so they stayed on their monthers in pasture a bit longer and were only weened and fed pellets/hay for 9 days. Either way, they are generally shipped at about the same age. And, the pasture was really good this year so it didn't make a difference on their rate of gain.
 

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Grass/pasture management and genetics play a part in rate of gain on grass. My Katahdin lambs are 2 months old and weigh from 45-60# on grass and mama's milk (also grassfed) But we manage our grass for this productivity - ya can't have tall rank grass or short, overgrazed pasture and expect good gains. In October, when our lambs are 5 months old, they will weigh around 80-90# on grass alone.
If you are rotating through paddocks every 30 days, you'd best keep a close eye on body condition scoring and check eyelid color, because 30 days does not break the worm cycle. According to "worm gurus" around here, a pasture is not considered "clean" until it's laid fallow over a winter, had hay cut and removed, or had cattle graze it off. Those eggs can last a few months on the grass, and the arrested development larvae can, too.

Lisa at Somerhill
www.somerhillfarm.com
 

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While you may think creep feed is not "feed-lot", it's not grass-fed. I would say it's feed-lot.

Yes creep fed lamb for the first few months or for the last few weeks is still "feed-lot" Kind of like, no, let me say it clearly, you can't call your lamb organic if you feed it conventional feed for the first few months nor the last few weeks. :nono:

Why would you think it's "grass-fed" lamb if you feed it grain the first few months or the last few weeks?

That's really "feed-lot" lamb.
 

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FreeRanger said:
While you may think creep feed is not "feed-lot", it's not grass-fed. I would say it's feed-lot.

Yes creep fed lamb for the first few months or for the last few weeks is still "feed-lot" Kind of like, no, let me say it clearly, you can't call your lamb organic if you feed it conventional feed for the first few months nor the last few weeks. :nono:

Why would you think it's "grass-fed" lamb if you feed it grain the first few months or the last few weeks?

That's really "feed-lot" lamb.
You may SAY that but you'd be wrong. There's a big difference in a "feed lot" and giving pastured lambs access to "creep feed" Just from the way you describe it I can see you dont understand the concept of creep feeding

They are NOT taken off the pasture and given only grain. THAT would be a feed lot.

"Young lambs have specific nutrient requirements that need to be met to produce fast growing, efficient animals. Development of a fully functional, healthy rumen will allow lambs to better utilize forages sooner and result in more vigorous, healthy lambs. One nutritional strategy that can positively impact production is the use of creep feed to supplement what is coming from the ewe. Ensuring adequate water and mineral/vitamin supply, along with easy access to creep feed will enhance production."

http://www.ontariosheep.org/Sheep News/2003/03 Mar Apr/ontsheepnewsart0039.htm

Creep fed lambs are able to use PASTURES sooner and more efficiently


"feed·lot /ˈfidˌlɒt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[feed-lot] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun 1. a plot of ground, often near a stockyard, where livestock are gathered to be fattened for market"


"feed-lots require more intervention like worming and daily feeding. Pasture raised sheep in rotational grazing is relatively cheap (if you have the land and electric netting). No worming needed if you keep moving them to new pasture and don't return them to the paddock for 30 or more days...breaks the worm cycle."

How are they more likely to get worms from CLEAN grain than from a contaminated pasture? And 30 days WON'T "break the worm cycle". Depending on the conditions it can take up to a year for a pasture to be free of worms.

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/organic/organic_16g.php

"Infective larvae can survive over winter on pasture even if sward not grazed from turn of the year, and will therefore remain a source of infection (though diminishing) until June."

You havent convinced me that you really know what youre talking about. You can learn about it here, since it explains how the two concepts are different.

http://www.sheep101.info/201/feedinglambs.html
 

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A feedlotted lamb is one raised in a feedlot. Simple enough? The are fed a very high protein ration that pushes a lamb to finish and might include, growth implants and or antibiotics in the ration to maximize feed conversion. Antibotics don't just stave off infections, tetracycline also encourages superior rumin activity when dosesd correctly, sulfamethazine controls cocci, but is also effective against pnuemonias. You wouldn't/couldn't use a lamb from a feedlot for breeding, thier kidneys and livers have been stressed and they've accumulated fatty deposits that would interfere with reproduction.
Creep fed suppliments is completely different from feedlot raised lamb, it relies on good pasture and good milking abilities from the mum too. No antibiotics, or implants (same ones used for cattle) no super high protein ration 18% +, just access to high quality feed at all times. It's not just grain in that creep feeder, it's good quality hay or green chop, they they can eat or not as they want! I do it mostly because of predation, limiting thier access to pasture over night, and pound for pound my lamb is cheaper to produce. Most grass fed lamb takes much longer to raise so all you're really producing is also called store lamb (which my poor performing lambs become) that is sold at an older age to a different buyer. I maximize the margin there by selling live to the Muslim market, who want an older animal. Not to imply its inferior just different.
Grass fed might be or might become a trademark brand, but it doesn't automatically mean superior quality or cheaper production by a long shot. Grass feeding requires pasture management, seeding and fertilizing and for sheep that's not inexpensive. I must have missed where Bearfoot was calling his lamb grassfed, I don't need some monicer for a sales advantage, I just sell lamb. Since mine is generally months younger than grassfed (although a well run MIG program can produce similar results) its going to be more tender, and as shown not fatty. I sell it retail and when asked if its "grassfed i tell them its pasture raised with creep feeding. Most people just want to be sure the lamb was raised as it should be with access to the sun and grass, and not pumped full of steriods or antibiotics.
 

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I don't need to convince anybody. :bash: You have not convinced me that creep feeding is not a form of feed-lot management.

I am only saying that creep feeding of grain is NOT a part of a grass-fed program in my world. Maybe in your area grain is considered grass? I raise my sheep on only hay in the winter and grass pasture the rest of the time. From what I have read about the history of sheep, 100% grass is the way it was done for thousands of years. Grain fed meat is just not natural. Sure it gets the weight on quickly but that doesn't mean it's the "best" practice.

Using high quality forages and sheep lines breed for grass will "enhance" growth performance better in my opinion. Selective breeding for healthy lambs on hay/grass instead of selective breeding for lambs that grow quickly on grain. These are two different practices for raising sheep. One is the historially "old style" the other is "new style" which I fondly refer to as Feed-lot. Sorry you don't see your method as a form of feedlot. I was suggesting the original poster of this thread consider the options. Heck with your logic using steroids can be justified. :shrug:

As far as the worm cycle, I don't have the time to explain about details. I suggest studying the benefits of management intensive rotational grazing.

By the way, I am selling out. Due to my health and family needs I no longer can justify livestock at this time in my life. So you can just ignore me anyway.....as I ride off into the sunset :hobbyhors
 

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You are the one hung up on the term "grass fed" I stated mine are NOT "feed lot " lambs. Ive shown you several sources to explain the difference.

You said: "Maybe in your area grain is considered grass?"

To say "grain is not natural" is lame since grain GROWS ON GRASS. Rye, barley, wheat , oats, buckwheat. They are all both GRASS and GRAINS. So the truly NATURAL feed is for them to eat both, along with various BROWSE such as tree leaves and vines. You can limit yours to grass alone, but you shouldnt try to say its more "natural". since given a free choice sheep will eat many different things

You also stated: "As far as the worm cycle, I don't have the time to explain about details. I suggest studying the benefits of management intensive rotational grazing."

http://www.sheepandgoat.com/articles/grassfed.html

"Internal parasites are a much greater problem with grazing animals than those being fed in confinement. This is particularly true when grazing small ruminants which may require frequent deworming or handling to monitor parasite levels. While grazing animals are much less prone to enterotoxemia (overeating disease), urinary calculi, and other metabolic disorders, grazing poses its own set of health risks: poisonous plants, bloat, grass tetany, and fescue toxicosis -- not to mention predators"

"Grain feeding tends to improve rate of gain and parasite tolerance in small ruminants. Giving lambs and/or kids a little bit of grain each day gives the producer a chance to more easily monitor the health and condition of his animals. Grain can be a very economical source of nutrients for growing lambs and kids. Grain-fed lambs and kids usually bring a higher price at auctions because they tend to carry a higher degree of body condition. Yet feeding a little bit of grain on pasture is significantly different from confining livetsock to a feed lot and feeding them limitless grain."

There are no "details" you can explain that will change the fact that 30 days off a pasture has NO real effect on the worm loads, or that GRASS FED sheep will have MORE worm problems than "feedlot " sheep.


You may have people willing to pay more for "grass fed" lambs. Those same people will pay more for a "free range" chicken that may never actually leave it's pen in its lifetime. Its a marketing gimmick. When actual RESULTS are compared, this is what they say:

"Grain-feeding alone or supplementing grain on pasture produces lamb with a milder, more desirable flavor. Grain-fed lamb and beef has generally been preferred in taste panel tests in the U.S., though grass-fed lamb is preferred in the United Kingdom. Grass-fed lamb tends to have more off flavors and is more subject to oxidation, which affects shelf life and color"

They are your sheep so if you want to limit them to an UNNATURAL diet of only grass, its fine with me. Around here, my customers want BIG lambs, and a little grain gets them that way in about 3 months less, and is TOTALLY "natural" By weaning earlier, I can rebreed sooner and produce MORE, BIGGER lambs in less time.

This lamb was born on 12-2-07 and the pic taken on 1-24 -07 standing beside his Mom. You wont get results like this on grass alone
 
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