What is the Tamarack Breed?
The Tamarack was created by Janet McNally in 1987 to fulfill the need for a well muscled, easy care sheep that would thrive and be profitable in the farm flock pasture environment of the Midwestern and Eastern US. The Tamarack is an offshoot of the Tamarack Prolific breeding program, where the Booroola gene was introduced into Polled Dorset ewes. The resulting cross was then back crossed for many generations to polled Dorset and Ile de France rams to improve milk, growth, number of lambs weaned, and carcass quality. The sheep not inheriting the Booroola gene became fixed in type and were selected along the same high standards for performance using estimated breeding values (EBV’s) to further improve maternal weaning weight (milk) , weaning weight, post weaning weight, loin eye muscle depth, and numbers of lambs born and weaned. Tamarack sheep do not have the Booroola B gene. Rigorous culling produced a sheep requiring less labor with higher lamb survival. The Tamarack has found favor where grazing conditions are harsher and where lamb crops exceeding 210% are not desirable.
The Tamarack ewe is a moderately prolific ewe and outstanding mother, that will produce a quality market lamb that is kill-able at a wide range of weights from 30 lbs to 140 lbs. Early lamb growth is high with top individuals gaining more than a pound a day on good grazing for the first 100 days. Ewes weigh 140 to 225 lbs with an average of 165 lbs, Tamarack ewes will wean from 160% to 190% lamb crop on a quality forage-based diet. The Tamarack enjoys a long breeding season and accelerated or out of season lambing is possible.
Tamarack rams show exceptional fertility and libido, often settling the flock in less than 21 days, yet are docile around their handlers. Rams weight 180 to 280 lbs with an average of 225 lbs in pasture condition.
Two unique criteria are required to be a Tamarack:
1) The animal must be enrolled in Lambplan and have recorded as a minimum: 60 and 150 day weights with birth and pedigree information and make this information available for across flock evaluation and
2) The animal must have valid genetic links to the original Tamarack Flock.
Lambplan is a genetic evaluation tool that calculated estimated breeding values. Lambplan provides a way to keep track of pedigrees and provides the tools for genetic improvement, thus replacing the need for a breed registry. These requirements are paramount to assuring the Tamarack Prolific continues to stand out as a profitable sheep for pasture-based flocks.