Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Benefits of Breeding to a Hair Sheep Ram

Fall is typically when sheep producers look for a new breeding ram.

Unless a person is set on breeding sheep for wool (which has lost its value in some areas) or they insist on breeding purebred sheep, there is no reason why a person with wool ewes should not select to breed to a hair sheep ram, in fact there are many advantages of breeding to a hair sheep ram.

Katahdin hair sheep ram

Easier Lambing

Hair sheep tend to have slightly smaller birth weights, which makes for easier lambing and fewer complications.  The lambs are still healthy and strong and, especially with a good milk producing ewe, will grow up well.

Meat Quality

If a person is wanting to sell lambs for meat their are many advantages of selecting a hair breed ram including the fact that ethnic buyers tend to prefer to buy hair sheep because that is what they are more familiar with.  The carcass quality of hair sheep is very good and the flavor is said to be better as well.  Even older hair sheep can be easily marketed for meat.

Less Work

The lambs of hair sheep, and hair sheep crosses, do not need their tails to be docked.  They tend to be shorter and will not get as wooly.  Ethnic buyers prefer to buy lambs that did not have their tails docked.  The ram itself will not need to be sheared in the spring, instead he will shed his hair and be ready for summer.

Hybrid Vigor

By breeding to a ram of a different breed than the ewes a producer can take advantage of a genetic benefit known as hybrid vigor.   This means the lambs are usually genetically more healthy than their parents, and tend to be better sheep.

Health Benefits

Hair sheep tend to be more parasite resistant, and seldom suffer from hoof rot.

Hair sheep x lamb

Hair Sheep Breeds

There are many different hair sheep breeds some of the most common are the Katahdin, Dorper, St. Croix, and Barbado.

Each hair sheep breed is slightly different, some have more color than others, and some have horns, but all have the advantages as listed above and should be considered when selecting a new ram for breeding season.

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