Enhancing producer decision making: Lamb feeding strategies and meat quality assessment in the Katahdin sheep breed

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2023: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2026
Host Institution Award ID: G349-23-W9983
Grant Recipient: University of Wyoming
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Cody Gifford
University of Wyoming
Stewart Whit
University of Wyoming

Information Products


  • Animals: sheep
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: feed management, grazing management, meat processing, meat product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    The University of Wyoming (UW) is collaborating with Katahdin sheep producers in the intermountain west region and Dr. Tom Murphy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (US-MARC) to evaluate optimal feeding and management strategies for harvest lambs from producers and collaborators. This collaborative research and education project will utilize producer lambs in three diet and management groups to better understand the optimal harvest animal guidelines for Katahdin producers utilizing dam, sire and lamb information, live animal performance and ultrasound data, carcass characteristics and sensory performance information to develop best management practices for Katahdin producers to implement. Since limited information is currently available for producers to reference, this project will provide live animal and carcass data back to producers to use to enhance their animal and product marketing programs in addition to developing prediction and economic tools to better assist producers with estimating optimal lamb harvest endpoints more precisely based on sire, dam and lamb performance records. Current Katahdin lamb producers will collaborate with researchers at UW and US-MARC to receive performance records for producer owned lambs participating in this work along with engaging in field-demonstrations and workshops to demonstrate tools and materials developed for Katahdin lamb producers to implement into their operations. Materials, workshops, demonstrations will be evaluated during planned educational events and at 12-month follow-up surveys to assess implementation of targeted feeding and management strategies.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives

    The objectives of this research and education project are to: 1) evaluate the impact of type and duration of diet on live animal growth performance, carcass characteristics and sensory outcomes among Katahdin lambs from participating producers; 2) utilize lamb performance data along with dam and sire information to develop prediction equations and evaluation tools to determine optimal harvest weights for Katahdin producers; 3) evaluate impact of forage based diet resources, and 4) utilize research results from this project with producer management and perception survey findings in hosted field day and/or additional workshops to more effectively coordinate adoption of precision management tools and economic calculators for Katahdin producers.

    Educational Objectives

    The overall educational goal of this project are to: 1) provide producers with complete performance data of their lambs in order for each to implement new management strategies best tailored for their operation; 2) evaluate current management and marketing strategies used by producers in the intermountain-west region; and 3) provide effective education utilizing interactive management tools developed through this project 4) pre-and-post assessment of  knowledge gained including gauging use and perception of management tools developed.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.