Sunday, September 30, 2007

Old "friends"

Yesterday morning I turned out all the sheep and lambs out together. None of the four who traveled to OFFF and back have shown any sign of illness, and I want to get Brava and Bella separated from Braveheart, so I figured they could all get acquainted/reacquainted where there is enough room to move around if anyone got cantankerous. It was interesting to me that the only two who really scuffled were Rechel and Dinah, my original two Shetlands who came here from the same farm. You'd think these two would have the least amount of differences to work out, but they acted more like old enemies instead of old friends. Bella stayed close to mom Rechel during all this; Rechel was the aggressor. Braveheart watched with interest -- perhaps head-butting stirred something within? -- but Bella chased him away when he got too close.
(Notice the mud in the photo? Weatherwise we have moved abruptly from Indian Summer to November. My sister arrived Friday for a visit, and it's supposed to rain ALL week!)

There's been some discussion on the Yahoo Shetland list lately about whether or not bottle lambs make good moms -- or flock sires. The concensus seems yes on the former, provided the lamb wasn't rejected or abandoned by a bad mother, and no on the latter because they usually become too tame to have proper respect for humans. Aggressive Shetland rams are not usually appreciated or tolerated, but aggressive Shetland ewes, as in those with fierce mothering instincts, are very much appreciated. Some argue that when we select only for mild-mannered rams, we may also be selecting against those fiercely good mothers. If that's true, it makes sense to keep the aggressive ewes and cull or wether the aggressive rams.

Rechel is a fiercely good mother. She lambed by herself, was extremely attentive to her twins, and, I suspect, even tried to steal Dinah's ram lamb at birth. (Later, she tried repeatedly to kill him.) Since she's only had ewe lambs, I don't know if her "aggression" would be passed on as "bad temperament" in ram lambs. I am diligently trying to find homes from her and Bella and possibly even Dinah so I can bring in some ewes with polled genetics, so I may never know!

That's it for now at . . .

5 comments:

Sharon said...

Hmmm, I never realized the risk people accept when they take animals to sheep shows. Smart to be so careful.

Tina T-P said...

Don't you just wish you could sit down with them and say - Hey, Cut it OUT! - It is my least favorite part about having sheep - especially when you introduce one new one into the flock by their selves - T.

Kathy L. said...

So, is this the breeding "group" at Boulderneigh? :)
Skittles keeps asking me for the girls, but I keep telling him I don't want lambing in the snow...he just won't listen and still wants to visit the girls. ;)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Braveheart gets Rechel, Dinah and Valentine; I have separated out Bella and Brava. The first two are available for purchase, but will be exposed anyway. I HOPE Valentine gets bred; at this point she's taking every opportunity to beat up on the little guy!

Windyridge said...

I don't like aggressive rams, we've had a few. I think our new guy will be the best we've had and don't expect any problems. BUT having said that he's like a pet, he is just so darn cute and sweet. Now Finns generally do have a very docile nature and I do know of some very friendly and tame mature rams, so here's hoping. The first sign of a head lowering and we will pick him up. They HATE that. Hopefully that will do it.