We have a breeding program that emphasizes even, balanced performance data, correct conformation, a type A hair coat, strong maternal traits, and lambing without assistance.
If you're looking for better maternal traits and an easy keeper sheep that doesn't require shearing, the katahdin is definitely for you.
Our program is pasture-based and our ewes receive no grain during gestation. We provide high-quality hay and free-choice mineral during pregnancy and have had minimal problems with toxemia.
As the katahdin breed is very feed efficient, without maintaining a very regular breeding program, we find the ewes will tend to get over-conditioned. We use a modified STAR system which allows three lambings in a 2 year cycle.
We generally select for twinning and tripling. We have found that the better katahdin ewes do well with triplets and rarely need supplementation.
In looking at pictures of sheep from the 19th and 20th Centuries, I was struck at how low the the ground sheep used to be. Many breeds have almost no resemblance to their modern day counterparts in phenotype.
Further reading confirmed that in cattle, overselection for large, leggy animals was actually shown to be associated with decreased feed efficiency that goes way beyond 'they need to reach farther down to eat'.
We select for ewes with good length through the body, shorter legs keeping them close to the ground, and a mature weight of about 130 lbs.