Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Looking to start raising lamb for meat. What's your experience with the best breeds in terms of both quality (taste) and ease of care? I plan to start very small, maybe 3 or 4 lambs.
Sorry there haven't been responses...please also join the sheep group and ask there. However, I hear that Dorpers and Katahdins are very good meat breeds, but I don't have a lot of personal experience. You also need to consider parasites and in that regard I heard that Katahdins have some natural resistance, though again I'm not sure. Maybe someone else can chime in.
We have started a Katahdin flock. We have butchered in late fall and late winter, depending on scheduling at the processor and the meat has been delicious. I chose a hair breed because I do not want to deal with the wool. At this point in time managing the fiber does not seem to be a very efficient way to use my farm time. That said, if you are not going to carry your lambs over the winter, you can raise whatever breed you can find for a reasonable price and develop your own management style. It also gives you time to find good stock to build a flock of whatever breed you select. Good Luck
I think it would be beneficial to look at raising breeds that are easy to keep. For example they don't die in the winter, you don't need to trim hooves and dock tails. In my experience, hair sheep are the best. However, not all hair sheep are created equally! During my internship with Greg Judy, he told me about the importance of raising hair sheep that are parasite resistant. He used 100% St. Croix rams. And his ewes were Katahdin, dorper, florida native, barbados, st. croix.
It is also important to buy your breeding stock from people who have not babied them. If the rancher/farmer says that a lot of them died because he didn't baby them, THAT IS GREAT! That means that the genetically superior animals have survived, thus saving you time and money.
As far as the meat quality, it was great. The most important thing is that you don't have to baby the sheep. You could even start to sell some breeding stock in the future, on top of the meat production you are after.
Hope that helps.
It may be too late to respond, but we've raised barbados black bellies, and now katahdin. The meat is excellent and we find the younger we process them - the better. The best weight (for our own consumption) is 60lbs. or less. Hope this helps!