Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conformation clinic

Juliann over at Little Country Acres has been posting photos of her rams and inviting critiques from other Shetland breeders for the purpose of dialogue and education. Garrett over at Ramsay Farms has taken on a discussion of the various points in the 1927 Shetland breed standard for the same reasons. I am enjoying and learning from both, so I thought I would further the opportunity here.

Unlike Juliann's "stable" of polled and half-polled rams, I only have one at Boulderneigh - musket (Aa/Ag) Valiant Braveheart. I bought him sight-unseen (except for a couple emailed photos) as a young lamb two years ago. He has sired one crop of lambs which are now yearlings. The only one of those yearlings still at Boulderneigh is his wethered moorit son out of Dinah, so I will show him here for comparison to his sire.

Photos were taken this morning. Both boys were sheared on March 23. Since I coat my sheep I couldn't get nice candids out in the pasture like Juliann did; I pulled their coats off and tied them to the fence line.

"While I'm here I might as well have a good scratch . . .

. . . and see what there is to see!"

So tell me what you think! Be tough; I can take it. Actually, I like many things about this ram, and wish I had room to hang onto him longer. (With a new ram of Juliann's breeding coming this fall from Meghan Namaste and limited space here, I will almost certainly have to offer him for sale.) He is a stout, masculine little fellow with a very consistent fleece from front to back. He has strong, wide hindquarters, and he stamped all his get with that nice tail (I'd like to see if he could override Brava's wooly one!). His bone is substantial, making his legs maybe heavier than ideal? I've been told he could be longer in the back; I actually like his proportions. He doesn't have a perfectly level topline; I don't think any of my sheep do.

Browning fidgeted like a little boy, so his photos aren't as good. Interesting to see all that iset coming in; there was nary a white hair when he was sheared two months ago!

So let's discuss sheep at . . .


Garrett808 said...

First I must say...isn't it amazing to find the things that come out of Ag or Awt sheep? I had a few solids come out of my Ag Shasta last year and one was iset before she was six months old! Who knew!!

I REALLY like Braveheart and there isn't much to fault him I don't think. I like his head and ear set, his bone is adequate (not too much, not too fine) and I don't think he's too short, but is adequate (maybe an inch more but that is picky). Nice tail, hindset and I love his personality!!

His son almost seems more 'beefy' if that is a term in Shetlands...can it be? He also seems longer in leg than his dad and his head, IMO, is not as nice as Bravehearts. I can't describe it but there is something slightly different about his head than his sires....maybe I'm being too picky.

And that iset just ticks me off! i remember seeing photos of this yearlings fleece...gorgeous dark moorit.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Thanks for commenting, Garrett! Nice to hear I'm not the only one who likes the look of Braveheart.

And I agree about Browning's head; I've never liked it. He doesn't look like his dam OR sire in that department! (We kept him because of his dark fleece and Brian's preference.) I think his eyes are set too high. Anyway, I don't know who the iset is from; he is Dinah's first Aa/Aa lamb (she's also had two whites and this year's moorit gulmoget). I know where one of Braveheart's solid daughters is, so should ask that owner if she is getting iset as well.

Braveheart is definitely the beefier of the two; I suppose Browning may catch up with age. His legs are longer and a bit finer-boned as well. Their fleece types feel very similar. It will be interesting to compare their micron test results!

TigereyeSal said...

Okay- from the uninformed: Braveheart is a looker! I'm not sure how much is appearance and how much is attitude, but he's a cutie.

Browning seems much more unexceptional- perhaps even ordinary, at least in appearance.

I hear you about fidgetty little boys!

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Since I dont know much about shetland conformation, all I can say is, nice butts! ;-)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

And that, Sally, is why Braveheart gets to pass on his genes and Browning doesn't!

Laura said...

I think Braveheart is a very good looking ram. You could always get rid of the wether and keep 2 rams together. Rams are happier and behave much better with a buddy.

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

I think both have excellent width. I prefer Braveheart overall. Both are nice. His son looks to be slightly higher in the back and he has more of a hollow between his hocks and rump. That seems to be related to the combination of muscling in the rear and the length of the legs. You see that a lot on the more boney shetlands, but these two don't show it much.

I think both are very nice. I don't see a significant issue with body length. They look proportional. Saying they are too short would be splitting hairs.

I'm not sure about the heads. Braveheart's is very nice. I can't point to anything in his son's head that I don't like, but I prefer Braveheart's. Maybe the wonky horns are changing his appearance. That certainly detracts from him. It's possible that's influencing all of us.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Laura, Browning the wether was my son's choice, and he won't CONSIDER letting him leave!

Juliann said...

Michelle, other than a slight sickling to the rear hocks, which I obviously have in my sheep, I can't fault them at all! Nicely proportioned, sound & square.
I think Browning has a pretty head. It's that dome of the half poll skull that makes him look pretty atypical, but I'm used to seeing it here on my farm.
I second Garrett, darn that iset. I'm trying to breed it out of one line here and have a terrible time of it.

An English Shepherd said...

Braveheart looks like one sturdy lad!

Wizz :-)

Allena said...

Really the olny fault I find with him is that he's ag....and that isn't a fault!

I like ags, but I don't like to use an ag ram, because you get so many of them sometimes. My critique is coming from more of a selling point of view.

I think that tail is great, but the dark tip makes it look longer than it is...

I love that rear end, and those wide spaced hocks give his daughters plenty of room for a good productive udder. Dairiness is something usually more talked about in dairy animals, but it's very important in other animals as well. That square rear is very desirable though, not just for looks, but for the added space for a good udder.

Another thing to consider with that, is there is less likelihood of mastitis and other udder related problems, so it's a benefit. Not a necessity but good to see.

I really like his head, is has a lot of depth and I really like the broad muzzle. That means he will be less susceptible to respiratory problems and runny noses.

I like a horned ram, and so I find the polled ones lacking some in appearance, but that's purely subjective on my part.

I really like his fleece, I would love to see it uncoated and all tippy! I think it must be very crimpy and soft though.

His legs all look pretty good, his front legs are slightly bowing in at the knees, that could be from his position.

I would like to see his feet, but they are obscured. I like to see a nice tight toe, with little spreading.

Overall I give him an A+ and I would say he would make a great addition to any flock. Most of my comments are on tiny things, that could be improved with the dam, or the offspring, not really problems/faults.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about conformation, but think Braveheart is definitely a handsome guy. I love that face.