Three Common Genetic Defects to Review when Buying or Selling Sheep

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee – Roxanne Newton
(Previously published online with EAPK: June 7, 2024)

It’s important for buyers and sellers to be aware of a few of the more common genetic defects so that only the best quality animals are consigned and sold. It is the responsibility of sellers to consign high quality animals that are free from defects. Ask your veterinarian to perform a screening exam before consigning the animal if you are unsure. It is also the responsibility of buyers to do their due diligence by inspecting the animals they’re interested in buying before the bidding process begins. If the animal for sale is only available online, we strongly encourage bidders to contact the seller and request more information or photographs to make a more informed decision.

Jaw Evaluation
Defects of the mouth are highly genetic and can affect the sheep’s ability to nourish itself. This defect can become more pronounced with age. The lower incisors should properly meet the upper dental pad. An overshot jaw or parrot-mouth is the result of the sheep’s upper jaw being longer than the lower jaw. An undershot jaw or monkey-mouth is when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.

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