In 2005 Mary Susan and I bought five Katahdin sheep ewes and a Katahdin ram named”Larry.” Today, by retaining ewes we have over 200 and are still growing. Not many farmers in Middle Tennessee raise sheep, and very few people in the country, aside from a few foodies and top chefs, know of the fantastic flavor of Katahdin lamb.
We didn’t know it either. Someone at a grazing conference had suggested that Katahdins were good complimentary grazers to cows, so we said we would try five. We also didn’t know the magical flavor effects of combining Katahdin sheep with Middle Tennessee grass or that Katahdin sheep could be “finished” on nothing but their mother’s milk and Middle Tennessee grasses.
We discovered that magic by accident, not realizing it until we home-harvested one of our lambs and invited a few friends to a lamb supper. Everyone was blown away. It was better lamb than anyone had ever had, whether the lamb was from New Zealand, Australia or the United States. Even the don’t-like-lamb-people loved it. You can see here what happened next.
Katahdin Lamb is an American Breed of Sheep Specifically Developed For Flavorful Meat So, what are these sheep? Katahdin is a breed of hair sheep (no wool) developed in the United States. The Katahdin breed originated in the 1950’s at the Piel Farm in north central Maine where Michael Piel was an innovator who enjoyed raising livestock. He sought a better breed of all-American sheep for the table. The resulting breed was named for Mt. Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. Katahdin are lean lambs with an excellent mild flavor. Most lamb available for the table in the United States comes from wool sheep in Australia or New Zealand. When American lamb is available, it largely comes from sheep flocks in the American west. These sheep are bred for their wool producing qualities, not for the table. They are typically “finished” for the table on grain.
Glendale Farm Katahdin Lamb Is Fully Finished On Grass, Producing A Flavorful Lamb With Significantly Higher Levels of Heart Healthy Omega-3 Fats
A lamb, beef or any other type of livestock is finished for harvest when it is fully marbled. Almost all lamb and beef available in the United States is finished on grain. In nature, ruminant animals eat grass and leaves. Sustainable grass is the preferred way to finish an animal if a quality product can be obtained. Research also shows that animals naturally finished on grass have a significantly higher content of heart healthy Omega-3 fats.
We discovered that a Katahdin lamb could be “finished” on the unique salad bar of grass available here in Middle Tennessee. In our temperate Middle Tennessee climate, we have 55 inches of rain and both warm and cool season grasses — 125 miles north, south, east or west — not so. We still have three months of winter making it practically impossible to perfect finishing an animal as large as a cow. But no one had ever thought about sheep!
Glendale Farm lambs are finished completely on their mother’s milk and Middle Tennessee grasses — that’s it, nothing else — no grain, no supplements, no hormones, not anything else but mom’s milk and grass. Our sweet Middle Tennessee grasses give the naturally good Katahdin lams a texture and flavor we believe is not obtainable anywhere else.
Get The “101” On Storing, Preparing And Cooking Delicious Lamb
Our lamb chops, leg of lamb, rack of lamb, shoulder, shanks and ground lamb are all delicious. Here is the 101 on lamb cuts and how to store, prepare and cook them.
Rachel Kennedy with her lamb