About Our Sheep

We select for economically productive traits – MATERNAL, GROWTH, CARCASS and
WOOL.

 

 

About Our Sheep

Carcass Traits

We have ultrasounded rib eye areas (REA) in our yearling rams and ewes since 1997.  Having results of this technology available has enabled us to select top indexing rams (in addition to maternal, growth and wool traits) to use in our own breeding program.  Our Columbias have carcass qualities which allow them to compete well with traditional market lamb breed sires.

We provided 4-H and FFA market lambs to our children, nephews, and neighbors from 1994 through 2006.  Since we saved our best lambs to sell for breeding, the children selected their market lambs from a group of purebred Columbias with disqualifications which kept them from being registered (e.g., black spots, wooly faces, inverted eyelids, etc.).

In 2002, two nephews’ 4-H lambs had actual carcass REA of 3.55 and 3.25 square inches.  They placed 2nd and 14th in the carcass contest and both lambs achieved “Certified Lamb” status, indexing at 57.8 and 51.4.  Of the 53 lambs exhibited at the Sweet Grass County Fair, data was collected on 27 head, and of these, 16 qualified for Montana Certified Lamb.

2002  Tyler Langhus with his blue ribbon market lamb prior to the carcass contest.

2002  Tyler Langhus’ 2nd place carcass market lamb with 3.55 square inch rib eye area.

Carcass data on Tyler’s market lamb:

live
weight

hot carcass
weight

quality
grade

fat
thickness

yield
grade

retail
cut

126 lb

64 lb

Choice —

0.10 in

1.4

48.3 %

ribeye
area (in 2 )

REA
minimum

REA index
adj.

ribeye
area/cwt

final
index

certified
lamb

3.55

2.6

9.5

5.5

57.8

yes

Until 1997, we estimated the loin eye area of our sheep manually and visually.  We also had our meat processor trace the rib eye area whenever we had a yearling ram butchered.

In 1994, we purchased a ram lamb from Bob and Luanne Peterson, Livingston, MT, who greatly impacted our production-oriented sheep back then and his relatives to this day.  He was also the grandsire of the above market lambs and one other who qualified as Certified Lambs at the Sweet Grass County Fair in 2001 and 2002.

Once we were able to measure REA by ultrasound, we scanned our mature stud rams to record objective data in their historical file.  In March 1999, our S5650 stud ram had a 5.32 square inch ribeye area with 0.16 inch backfat.

(2005)  S5650 Peterson 16-B just before turning out with ewes for fall breeding.  His twin sister is pictured on the right.

(2005)  Kevin Langhus and “Dove”, S5619 Peterson 15-B, Champion Columbia ewe at the Winter Fair in Bozeman.

We also purchased this ram lamb’s twin sister for our son, Kevin.  To this day, she rates as one of the most outstanding ewes we have ever had on our place.  “Dove” had 17 lambs in 9 years, with 8 registered ewe lambs (kept 7 as replacements and sold 1 to Canada); 1 stud ram (2nd highest selling sheep at the 1998 MT Columbia Show & Sale); 3 range rams (1 was the 1999 MSU Gain Test Winner with average daily gain of 1.0 lb/day); 4 market lambs; and 1 ewe lamb who died after she was laid on.

Since we first began ultrasounding our sheep, the process has become more standardized.  Measurements were first taken of the entire ribeye area, later of only the loin eye muscle, and more recently eye muscle depth.  We have found that ultrasound measuring is not an exact science (e.g., like taking a weight).  We take the entire list of results and divide it roughly into thirds.  We will select our own stud rams and registered sale rams from the top group.  Depending on the age of the animal, the rams in the bottom of the list will most likely be culled.

We have often had the top REA ram over all breeds at the Montana State University Gain Test since 2000.  In 2008 – 2009, our top Columbia Gain Test ram had a 4.40 square inch REA.  REA of our 5 Columbia rams consigned to the Gain Test averaged 3.90 square inches.  The average REA for all breeds of rams on test was 3.20 square inches.

Langhus Sheep Working in Washington State

In 2006, Daniel Charlton, DVM, purchased a yearling ram and 3 ewe lambs from us for his Columbia flock in Ellensburg, Washington.  In 2009, two daughters showed Columbia market lambs at the Kittitas County Fair in the 150 to 156 lb weight class.  One of these purebred lambs (out of a Langhus sire and dam) had an ultrasound REA of 3.43 square inches, and achieved Lamb of Merit status.  This lamb placed 3rd, and another lamb, sired by the Langhus ram, placed 4th in live judging.

The Columbia lamb, closest to the camera ultimately placed 4th out of 65 market lambs in all weight classes.

    2009 Photo of the 150-156 lb market lamb class at the Kittitas County Fair. 
    Columbia lambs placed 3rd and 4th in live judging.
 

 

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PRODUCTION-ORIENTED SHEEP