Katahdin sheep enjoy new home at Unity College

School’s collection of American heritage breeds grows by way of generous donation

Katahdin Sheep

Three new Katahdin sheep have joined the Unity College Heritage Livestock Barn.

Part of a philanthropic gift from Kate Church and Steve Winn of Woolyback Farm in Cumberland, the sheep named Clarence, Willa, and Mary have taken up residence on campus as part of Unity College’s animal collection.

All livestock in the Unity College animal barn program are American heritage breeds used to educate students in various aspects of animal health and husbandry while preserving genetic diversity for future generations. Unity College students learn to manage, care for, and educate others about animals in the college’s Animal Room and Barn facilities.

The introduction of the newest Katahdin sheep is an extension of the campus-wide method of experiential learning utilized across all majors throughout the Unity College curriculum.

“Real-world experience complements the classroom for Unity College students,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “It’s this merging of theory and practice that sets Unity College apart, whether it’s in our animal programs or any of our 16 undergraduate majors.”

“This is a generous donation from people who see Unity College as a natural place for their animals to be well cared for, propagated, and utilized for teaching and learning,” said Chief Fundraising Officer Erica Hutchinson. “We are grateful to be able to add to our wonderful animal family by being recognized with this gift.”

According to Barn Manager Megan Anderson ‘09, Katahdin sheep are a highly adaptable breed developed and refined in northern central Maine by Michael and Barbara Piel from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

“These animals are personable, easy to keep, and exhibit strong parasite resistance, which sets them apart from other commercial breeds,” Anderson said. “Because Katahdin sheep have hair instead of wool, there is no need for shearing, making them cost-effective to maintain.”

“In my opinion, Katahdins are the sheep of the future,” Anderson said. “This donation significantly broadens the gene pool within our flock and allows us to focus our resources  on providing a rich and meaningful learning experience for those who come here to grow. Beyond all of that, we expect to take the process full circle and integrate the lamb we raise here into our dining services.”

In addition to Katahdin sheep, college-owned livestock includes San Clemente Island goats, American Guinea hogs, Wyandotte chickens, and Silver Fox rabbits — all breeds developed or cultivated in the United States.

For high-resolution images of the sheep, or to schedule a media visit, email the associate director of media relations.

Monday, October 03, 2016