Top O' Hill Acres Locker Lamb & Goats for Meat

Frequently Asked Questions

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Top O' Hill Acres

Ames, IA



About our Sheep

About our Lamb

About our Goats

About our Chickens & Eggs

About our Sheep

Since both Katahdin and Dorper sheep are bred to produce meat, not fleece, the color has not been genetically 'selected' for white over the years. The Dorper breed of sheep were originally bred from Horned Dorset and Black-Headed Persian sheep. The breed developed in South Africa; there is a white breed of Dorpers also. Katahdin sheep were developed in the 1950's, in Maine; by Michael Piel. He named the breed after the highest peak in Maine, Mt. Katahdin. The ancestors of the breed were hair sheep from the Caribbean Islands, crossed with various breeds of wooled sheep. Back to FAQ's

The market for wool has been heavily impacted by the popularity of synthetic fibers. While wool is still popular, the price has dropped dramatically over the years. Now it costs more to have a sheep sheared than the wool is worth, unless the wool is of very high quality! It takes energy, in the form of calories from feed, for a sheep to produce wool. The purpose of hair sheep breeding is to divert that energy use into the growth of muscle, so the sheep can utilize their feed to produce quality meat. The lack of fleece also reduces management requirements for the shepherd, eliminating the need to shear or crutch before lambing.

Purebred Katahdin sheep are usually not docked except for lambs that will be slaughtered. Docking is considered essential for wooled sheep, as a precaution against 'fly strike'. When feces collect in the wool around the tail, flies are attracted and lay eggs in the fleece, and the resulting maggots begin to consume the flesh. The reason that the market lambs, even of Katahdin breed, are docked is more about economics.. livestock buyers prefer them docked, so that they're not paying for a part of the lamb that they will not receive money for at the slaughterhouse. Registered Katahdin sheep may be docked, but it is preferred that their tails are intact. Dorper sheep are generally docked.

Information on Katahdin sheep can be found at the Katahdin Hair Sheep International website. The Dorper breed association site has information on that breed; another good site from South Africa is Dolf's Dorper Sheep Breeding Page. Crane Creek , where we purchased our Dorper ram, has an excellent site also. Our favorite site for general sheep information, from health to specific breed information, is Maryland Small Ruminant Page - sheep and goat .com.

Yes, Katahdin sheep are beautiful colors! They range from palomino, chocolate brown, black and red to white and spotted. But since their fleece sheds naturally, it is difficult to 'collect' it! And it is not like a wool-fleece; even their winter coat is intersperced with coarse hair, which makes it difficult to spin. When the sheep begin to shed in the spring, they rub the fleece off against trees and fences.. sometimes they just give a big shake and the fleece goes flying everywhere! But, we do have some Katahdin 'fleece' available. We will sell it by 1# bags, for adventurous spinners that want to give it a try.. $10 per pound bag, unwashed and relatively free of vegetable matter. Take a look at our sheepskins page, too.

The Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program is an effort to eradicate Scrapie, which is a sheep disease similar to chronic wasting disease. It is a voluntary, cooperative effort among producers, veterinarians, animal health officials, and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Enrolled flocks are monitored over a period of 5 years or more to identify flocks that are free of scrapie. Animals from certified flocks are a valuable source for replacement of breeding animals in other flocks. Our flock has been monitored since 2003.

Back to FAQ's

About our lamb

We breed the type of lamb that we would choose to eat! We strive to produce lean, well-muscled lambs that are raised in a clean, healthy environment. Our lambs are fed grains and hay grown locally. We don't feed any growth hormones, antibiotics, or animal products. And because you are buying a lamb that is custom butchered for you, you have some control over the product too. Most supermarkets in this area only carry a few cuts of lamb, and even that is seasonal. If you are the kind of person who can tell the difference between Angus beef and regular supermarket beef, you will be appreciate the taste our lamb even more.

No, our lamb is not certified organic. We understand that the farmers that grow our corn and soybean feed have to compete in the marketplace, and we respect that decision. If we bought all organically-raised feed, our prices would be prohibitively high. We trust our farming neighbors to produce quality grain-- we even grind our cornmeal for household cooking from the sheep corn!

At this time we only sell whole lambs. The best way to solve this issue is to arrange with friends, neighbors, or family members to divide the meat from a whole lamb, and split the costs too. Lamb meat can be kept frozen up to a year with no loss of quality. We may also have some lambs that are smaller; you can buy a lamb at 100 pounds rather than 120 if that is your preference.. the best way to ensure you'll get the weight you want is to order early.

To figure out how much meat you will get from a live lamb, first take 50% of the live weight. That will give you the hanging weight of the carcass. Depending on how you want the meat to be cut, you can expect about 65% of the hanging weight in meat. If you prefer boneless cuts, for example, you will get a smaller percentage weight of meat; as the bones will be discarded. See this link for a good discussion of dressing percentages. Our animals are taken off feed 24 hours prior to weighing them before slaughter, so you're not paying extra for a full belly.

To reserve a lamb, we require a $50 deposit. This will be credited against your total purchase when the lamb is paid for. Our lambs will be ready for slaughter this season beginning @ November 15.

We base our price on the market price plus @ 20%. This helps defray some of the expenses that are involved in direct selling, and in raising antibiotic- and hormone-free lamb. It also covers the cost of transportation to the locker, and the labor of disposing of the offal.

We do not sell lamb meat; due to state regulations our sales are limited to live animals only; and only within the state of Iowa.

If you want to have meat shipped to you, you must live within Iowa; again, due to state regulations. You will have to work out details of shipping with our locker service, Midwestern Packaging. Larry is the owner; he can answer your questions; the phone number is 515-382-2435. Back to FAQ's

About our Goats

We cannot sell goat's milk for drinking, due to state regulations. We can sell milk as 'pet food only, not for human consumption'.. but currently we are using all the milk that we have.

There is a lot of good information at Maryland Small Ruminant Page - sheep and goat .com. Another very good site with info on everything about goats is Fiasco Farm.

About our Chickens & Eggs

There is no difference in taste or quality between eggs of different shell colors. Most supermarket eggs are white because chickens that are the most common in production flocks are white-egg breeds. These hens are lighter in body weight than most brown-egg hens, so they eat less feed and thus produce eggs at lower cost.

Our eggs are gathered twice a day and refrigerated immediately. The eggs you buy from us are no more than one week old, guaranteed. According to the American Egg Board, fresh eggs will keep for 5 weeks in the refrigerator. Hard-cooked eggs, refrigerated, keep for one week.

Due to USDA regulations, all poultry meat sold for human consumption must be inspected. Unfortunately, the only USDA facility for poultry in Iowa is about two hours away. It is not practical or cost-effective for the few chickens that we process ourselves, or sell as live animals to be butchered at home.. we'd have to more than double the price just to break even! As we sell live animals, buyers can see for themselves that the chickens are healthy. Also, the buyer is in complete control of the butchering process so that they can ensure complete cleanliness and that there is no contamination of the meat by unsafe handling procedures.