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  • Writer's pictureWayne

What our motto is based upon - Katahdin

Those who have followed me for a few decades, know that the breed of sheep I think Australia needs more than any other is the Katahdin. I based our Caluka motto upon the vision of us having Katahdins on our farm - Meat the way nature intended.

I am currently holidaying in the USA and visiting as many Katahdin studs as I can. I'd like to give you some examples of what is possible. Below are some photos of 6 month old Katahdin rams sold in 2023 - grass reared. They are all 55-65kg.

All were born and raised successfully as twins, except 17 which was a triplet. 16 and 19 have an EBV for FEC of -100. Immune to worms. After four months on green pasture over summer under immense barbers pole pressure, they had zero worm eggs in their poo. Zero. 17 & 18 had a few but also will never need drenching.

The breed has the strongest mothering instinct I have ever seen, and will commonly give birth to twins and triplets at anytime of the year. I have seen them thrive in a Canadian winter, the tropics, in deserts, and in lush temperature regions. Some Katahdin genetics have resistance to footrot and foot scald as well. As a breed, they are docile and have a strong herding instinct. No studs I have been to in the past 15 years have ever had a problem with them going under, or over fences. Several farms can keep them in with two electric wires.

So why don't we have them in Australia? I could be blunt and say the authorities are decades behind the times with research and genetics. I could also be blunt and say big money does not want them in Australia because they need so little money spent on them. But I won't. The official reason is that Katahdins are nearly all immune to scrapie - the sheep version of mad cow disease.

Our authorities officially say they cannot be certain scrapie is not being hidden somewhere in the resistant sheep. Don't worry, I have argued for years with them, but no one wants to change the rules and take any risk. They are very happy for Australian farmers to keep spending money on drenches, lice treatments, suffer from footrot and wet feet, and produce less meat/ha. The USA has nearly all states with no trace of scrapie for years, many years, because of the push to remove all susceptible genetics.

Our Australian government will only allow in susceptible genetics. Unbelievably dumb. The fight to bring in scrapie resistant, worm and lice resistant Katahdin genetics will continue. They are a core aim of Caluka to use these genetics to produce meat the way nature intended.

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