Katahdin are hardy, adaptable, low maintenance sheep that produce superior lamb crops and lean, meaty carcasses. They do not produce a fleece and therefore do not require shearing. They are medium-sized and efficient, bred for utility and for production in a variety of management systems. Ewes have exceptional mothering ability and lamb easily; lambs are born vigorous and alert. The breed is ideal for pasture lambing and grass/foragebased management systems.
Their smooth hair coat and other adaptive characteristics allow them to tolerate heat and humidity well. Katahdins are also significantly tolerant of internal and external parasites and if managed carefully require only minimal parasite treatment.
The hair coat of the Katahdin varies in length and texture among individuals and can be any color or color combination. It generally consists of coarse outer hair fibers and an undercoat of fine wooly fibers that becomes very thick and longer if cold weather sets in and day length decreases. This undercoat and some hair naturally sheds as temperature and day length increase seasonally, leaving a shorter, smooth summer coat.
The Katahdin can be used in crossbreeding programs. When crossed with wool sheep, the first generation offspring will in most cases have wool fleeces with hair intersperse. It usually takes at least 3 generations, depending on the type of wool sheep parentage, to obtain offspring with a shedding hair coat and other purebred characteristics.