The origin of the Katumskaya smooth haired sheep breed
About our farm:
Katumi is located in the Vsevolozhsky district of Leningrad region. Since 1992 the name of our farm is Katumi. In 1992, you would have to have been an incredible optimist to start any kind of work in this area. Heavy rains had washed out the desolate roads and there were 200 hectares of hills, small forests and wetlands along with old overgrown orchards and fragmented stone ruins that had been abandoned. There was no electricity, no access to drinking water, and the nearest settlement was 8 km away.
We started with the road reparation, construction of a house and a sheep pen. We purchased a diesel-generator for electricity and opened the nearby spring for drinking water. We faced everything during our work: both joy and disappointment. Once we obtained electricity and acquired a water supply we had considerably sped up the creation of the farm.
All the wetlands were cleared and turned into ponds and lakes (the area of one pond turned out to be 12 hectares while the depth was 10 m). Powerful air compressors were set up along the shores of the ponds to expose them in wintertime. Carps, tenches, crucian carps, breams, peled, muksun and many other fish species live there now.
We planted a garden on the southern slope of a hill and now there are over 1200 fruit-bearing apple, pear, plum and cherry trees.
Currently we maintain 10 dairy cows of the Ayrshire breed, and about 1000 head of sheep.
For many years we have been purchasing and breeding Russian Romanov Sheep. The sheep of this breed are famous for their high fertility, fast growth, early maturity and high-quality wool. These sheep have the ability to reproduce three times in two years. Romanov sheep have adapted to the cold inland climate and local feeding habits. Besides the system of zoo-technical measures we have developed many preventive animal health care programs to minimize the loss of our young animals. Our lambs are much stronger at birth and have a much lower rate of disease due to our increase in preventative measures.
Mutton has been in high demand and the only product of our farm for a long time, and we keep breeding the Romanov sheep only for meat. However, after we did some research of the chemical composition of the meat and the morphological structure of their fibers. We slowly came to the realization that there was no possibility to obtain the desired quantity and quality of the meat from our Romanov sheep.
We started looking for sheep of a different breed but our Russian and international search didn’t produce any results. We were looking for sheep featuring the following characteristics:
-Sheep that have adapted to the cold climate of North and Western Russia;
-Sheep with high yield of top-quality meat.
-Sheep the reached puberty at an early age.
- Sheep that are “naked” hair sheep that does not require shearing;
- Sheep having "easy-care" nature;
- Sheep accustom to giving birth to 2-3 lambs per lambing.
We would like to stress the importance of the hair sheep breeds. We believe that meat sheep are, first and foremost, hair sheep. Considering that wool sheep spend a lot of nutrients while growing their wool, the meat tends to lose its nutrients to a quality wool coat. Wool wax (wool grease or lanolin) is a mixture of wax secreted by the sebaceous glands. This dark brown viscous mass has an unpleasant smell and leaves oily stains on contact. It consists of a mixture of fatty acids, wax-like esters of fatty acids, cholesterol, isocholesterol and palmityl alcohol, and various unsaponifiable substances and pollutants. By switching from wool sheep to hair sheep we get rid of the unpleasant smell and reprogram the animal body to lower the production of these unwanted substances. Having hair instead of wool means having a better thermoregulatory system, since hair has a tubular structure (hollow inside) that retains heat in winter and prevents overheating in summer. That’s why all wild animals also have this hair structure – completely smooth hair in the summer, and a warm undercoat in the winter.
Sheep shearing requires a lot of time and energy, and remains a very laborious process, during which sheep get a lot of stress, inevitably resulting in stunted growth alongside with greater risks of injuries. Nevertheless, sheep shearing is required. Without shearing, a wool sheep experiences changes in their thermoregulatory system causing a failure to thrive. Not to mention what sheep unkempt appearance says about its owner.
We failed to find all the necessary qualities in any of the existing sheep breeds, so we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to create a new sheep breed. We started working on hybridization with the aim of creating a sheep breed with the desired qualities and reinforcing these qualities by selecting and inbreeding (predominantly the father).
We took the Romanov sheep ewes as the base of creating a new sheep breed. We used their high fertility genetic potential. We purchased elite, high-quality, high-yielding smooth haired rams of Katahdin sheep breed in the USA. We were creating a new breed by accumulation cross breeding and a strict selection process. One of the most important conditions of the whole selection process was the consolidation of the desired characteristics in four unrelated breed lines to be able to proceed to the sheep mating after obtaining homogeneous genotypes. The speed of creating a new breed depended on a thorough selection process and sheep matching according to predetermined features.
A good balanced feeding and a proper care as the most favorable factors for sheep lives are required to identify the genes and to quickly influence the offspring’s birth characteristics in the desired direction. The result of our work is Katumskaya sheep breed.
The Katumskaya smooth haired sheep breed
These sheep are large, the rams may weigh up to 110 kg, ewes are up to 80 kg. The Katumskaya sheep is a meat sheep breed with a very rapid fattening period, a kind of broiler sheep. A distinctive feature of the Katumskaya sheep breed is that their hair cover mostly consists of hair, and the undercoat appears only during the cold season. Katumskaya sheep shed their warm winter undercoat in spring removing the need for shearing. The sheep can endure the humid climate due to having a smooth hair coat. They have pale yellow, light red hair with different shaped, medium-sized white and dark red spots. The smooth hair coat enhances the beauty of these sheep. The Katumskaya sheep are hornless. Hoof diseases or infections and parasitic diseases do not affect this sheep breed. The sheep breed in general shows high resilience and high fertility rate (220%, twins and triplets are the norm) with high maternal qualities, ewes always have enough milk. The lambs are born energetic and active, they have a surprisingly high growth rate and rapidly gain weight, 100 kg in up to 1.5 years. Ewe
lambs and ram lambs tend to reach puberty very early and remain reproductive for a long time. The Katumskaya sheep breed can endure the bitter winters staying under cover, protected from rain and snow and equipped with heated drinking bowls. Warm water in cold weather saves the sheep’s energy and reduces food consumption by 30%. The sheep have a very calm nature, they are obedient and phlegmatic. They can live without runs and be herded by a child or an older person. Adult sheep can still maintain their weight having moderate feeding.
The Katumskaya meat sheep have a very high meat yield. The meat has a unique and mild taste, lean like veal. After being cooked, the meat can be eaten hot and cold, it has a desirable fatty acid composition. The meat can easily replace beef and pork in recipes for delicious meat dishes. Flavour attributes of sheep meat don't change with age of the sheep.
Product Water Protein Fat Essential minerals Calories, kkal Cholesterol (1 portion), mg
The Katumskaya sheep breed 63,1 23,5 2,5 1,1 135 44,4
Russian Romanov sheep breed 57,6 16,3 11,3 0,8 174 58,00
Rabbit meat 65,6 20,7 6,5 1,1 115 62,00
Nutria meat 66,3 20,7 8,1 0,9 203 72,00
Beef 67,7 18,9 12,4 1,0 135 74,00
Pork 54,8 16,4 27,8 1,0 235 69,00
Chicken 62,5 18,2 14,4 0,8 139 75,00
The meat has such delicate taste thanks to the following:
1. It is proved that wool sheep breeds spend about 30% of microelements and nutrients obtained from food while growing the wool. The Katumskaya sheep breed keeps all the nutrients in the meat.
2. Unlike the wool sheep breeds the Katumskaya sheep breed has less active sebaceous glands; therefore, the meat hasn't got any specific smell.
3. The Katumskaya sheep are free in choosing from a variety of grass to eat in different places. The more freedom they have in choosing the food (different plants, shrubs, weeds), the more flavorful and tastier the meat is.
In terms of economic efficiency, the wool and sheep skin are not in demand in current market, so the smooth haired meat sheep breeding is task No.1 for Russia.
The Katumskaya smooth haired meat sheep are the most promising segment for the development of sheep breeding on the territory of the Middle Russia.
The Katumskaya smooth haired meat sheep breed is for you if:
1. You want to always have in your fridge tender, dietary meat with unique taste and without any peculiar smell, containing a huge amount of minerals (potassium 222 mg, calcium 16 mg, magnesium 21 mg, sodium 69 mg, phosphorus 157 mg; iron 1.55 mg), vitamins (B1, B2, ZZ, B6, B12, E, D, K) and easily digestible proteins, rich in iron and poor in cholesterol.
2. You don't want to do endless sheep shearing.
3. You want to keep sheep resistant to various weather conditions, diseases and parasites.
4. You want to have many lambs every year.
5. You want your farm to be effective and stable in terms of economy, so that the wool doesn’t cost you excess money.
6. You want to have the most beautiful sheep in the world (considering their exterior characteristics and hair coloring).
Due to well-established technologies in keeping sheep, human intervention and labour costs are minimum. Flocks of the Katumskaya smooth haired meat sheep are freely grazed. The man is just an observer. We provide them with the opportunity to choose when to eat, drink and when to rest. We can definitely call our sheep happy and exceptional. We are always ready to share our knowledge and unique experience! Additional information is available on the forum website http://www.fermer.ru