Chryptorchids and Katahdins

We love our Dorpers.  Many of them are pure Dorper, which itself is a South African breed developed in the 30’s as a very hardy meat sheep which has hair instead of regular wool. The others have been crossed with other meat breeds such as Katahdin which makes them more colorful than just pure white or white with a black head and neck.


I do love the pure white and regular Dorper ones as well, but it not as easy for me to recognize individuals as easily, though Natanielle can recognize them by just hearing their number or characteristic. She knows the names of most of their lambs of the last three years as well. My favorites are the ones with the most color, and they make the prettiest hides, IMO.


Last fall we had a darling little ram lamb that was white with a red head and we named him after Shawn who was helping us for a week. Shawn helped us work the sheep and band the little lambs, which castrates them by putting a rubber band around their scrotum and the little testes shrink and fall off in a few weeks time. Shawn was mighty squeamish. When it was time to band his little namesake, his testicles had not descended so we decided to just cyryptorchid him. Shawn was thrilled, because what that means is that little Shawn would still be a manly man! Whew!

I had researched different methods of castrating a couple years back and our first batch of lambs we did band, and our second batch we chryptorchid banded. It was a success, and a nightmare. The male lambs that had been chryptorchid banded grew faster and more muscular but also pestered all the female sheep to exhaustion! It was like having a herd of all rams, with lots of strutting and fighting. Ugh. So I decided to go back to regular banding. Of course we would never try the time honored method of castrating with your teeth, as we lack the skill and the fortitude.

This summer we had accidentally let some of the little men get past the age of banding, as that is not a task I can do myself, and so my husband decided to actually castrate those few, like castrating bull calves, and it was a disaster. Never again. A burdizzo is on my list to try, but in the mean time I’m going to band this new crop of lambs.

Considering how lovely Shawn turned out, by being a chryptorchid, made me reconsider doing that again. He did grow much faster and larger and he was the one destined for the freezer for our own table. What a meaty man! He is the lamb on the left with the red head who looks like a Katahdin.


Considering that we had lambs all throughout the most bitter winter last year of -40 and -60 wind chill at times I vowed to not lamb again like that this year so we put our herd ram in the freezer this summer. We never tire of meatballs.

But recently we have had a couple of lambs that certainly resemble their father, Shawn, which is a might depressing as I had hoped not to have to worry about winter lambing.


and this little shortie



So here is the real life lesson, for those humans who might be trying to conceive, and are still trying to keep up with sexy fashion. Ha! In case you were not taught this, keeping testicles in extremely tight fitting undies can make a man infertile (can I say that without my dd wanting to kill me? I think not.)

But don’t count on it, as it is not foolproof!

A sheep’s testicles are huge! and while Shawn’s were pushed up inside him, which should have rendered him sterile, they grew so large that they had partially descended again, and with the cold temperatures, he certainly became fertile again. Ugh, winter lambs.

I had wanted to replace our ram with a Katahdin for lambs to arrive in April and the only day we could bring him home was this last Monday. I had not thought of them fighting and it was turning into a huge one when I was putting everyone in the barn. By some miracle, I was able to pen Shawn in one pen and the new ram in the other. I was not about to let Shawn out the next day. Either it was having our friend’s son, Andy, shoot him and we process him ourselves, or beg Kinikin Processing to take him in that morning, but they had been booked up for weeks because of hunting season. They had mercy on me. Getting him on the trailer was another matter and while we were successful, Shawn turned and flew into the air out of the trailer again and Andy caught all 150 pounds or so in mid air. What a man! and thank goodness he was here to help me.

The new man has his ladies all to himself and he is overjoyed. He does need a name however.


He will bring a huge improvement to our flock as Katahdin lambs will grow larger and faster than our previous crop of lambs. He is only 8 months old and is as large or larger than most of our ewes.

5 thoughts on “Chryptorchids and Katahdins

  1. Pingback: Kalon | grassfood.

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    • There are days that I can cope and truly enjoy, and there are days that I do not see how I can face. Those are the days where miracles, like your dear son, come into like a ray of sunshine and rescue me! On the other ones I cope with coffee and cream in the morning and wine at night! haha. Looking so forward to learning how to process lambs with you, and eating more lamb chops!

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