Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dreaming of lambs?

Lots of shepherds are these days. Recently Allena, with help from Tammy, did quite a long post postulating what colors and patterns she might get from her many pairings. She's hoping for spots. That seems to be a desire of many Shetland breeders. I don't have a particular love affair with spots, although I must admit that blaze-faced, white-stocking-clad sheep are very striking and I wouldn't mind seeing one of those "HST" (stands for white on Head, Socks and Tail) Shetlands in my little pasture. But more important to me is breeding for polled rams, which is why I am using Valiant Braveheart on my girls this year.He has very little horn material, and most of what he had he has knocked or rubbed off this breeding season. Ideally, I would replace all my ewes (except Valiant Brava, who has a decent chance of carrying polled ram genetics) with ewes that are known carriers of polled ram genetics. But when I can't sell a nice, young ewe at a lamb's price, that ideal may be replaced with the reality of a small spinner's flock that I don't breed, rather than risk overrunning my limited sheep facilities with too many woolies and straining my marriage.

For 2008 at least, Boulderneigh should have a lambing season. Rechel, Dinah and Valentine have been living with young Braveheart since the end of October, and I witnessed breeding activity with the last two ewes in late November. I am hoping Rechel was bred earlier; time will tell. When I begin to feel udder development, I'm going to start a contest to see who can best guess the number, sex and color of the lamb(s) that arrive first.

To give you what hints I can, here is what I know or suspect of my breeding group members' genotypes (for a review of genetic abbreviations, go here):
Valiant Braveheart - Ag/Aa, Bb/Bb, S?/Ss (musket; you can see above that he has a dusting of white on his forehead)
WSR Rechel - Ag/Aa, BB/Bb, S?/Ss (grey; she has dark spots when sheared and her sire is listed as moorit flecket)
WSR Dinah - Awt/Aa, Bb/Bb, S?/S? (white)
Stonehaven Valeria (Valentine) - Aa/Aa, Bb/Bb, SS/SS, probably modified (fawn?)

Based on the above, I know I will get brown (solid, modified or fading) lambs from Valentine. Dinah should only be able to give me white or brown (fading or solid) lambs. Rechel could give me black or moorit lambs, fading or not; I may get spots with this combo, too. Rechel is my wild card.

The used replacement for the resurrected camera (that's still kicking, by the way) arrived from its eBay seller yesterday, and do I have a learning curve ahead! This model has TONS of settings, including video, that my old camera doesn't have. I'd better start studying the owner's manual now, so I'm ready for those adorable lambs!

That's it for now at . . .

5 comments:

Karen B. said...

I'm glad you'll be getting brown lambs, that's my absolute favorite. A brown sheep-now that's a wonderful thing. Good luck with your new camera, I look forward to lots of cool pictures!

Lauren said...

We're dreaming of lambs here as well, examining bellies, trying to determine what is lengthening fleece and what is expanding uterus. Although we penned the boys, I think Leroy got to a few girls before his confinement. So far it looks like Charlotte, Cookie, and possibly Carmela and Maddy (ugh). Don't even ask me what colors I'll get. That will have to be a surprise.

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

My colors are easy; red fading to cream as they age :)

Sharon said...

Awwww - Ian has just said that he wants to coat this year. We got horns and fleeces to dye or die for, and to think we'd have them VM-less, oh my. I think I'll never tire of spinning Shetland. Isn't it perfection, no bias here....

Garrett808 said...

Braveheart has a faint 'smirslet' forehead. Musket is basically Ag on moorit. That would mean he had moorit fleece as a lamb and the color gene was stopped thanks to the Ag pattern, making his fleece against his body a cream or white color. Do you have a photo with his fleece parted? I've found many people use fawn and musket interchangeably and fawn is modified moorit, musket is Ag and moorit. Just my thoughts?