Tuesday, February 09, 2010

You roo?

Sunday morning I noticed a tuft of wool hanging from Blackberry's neck. I pulled it off and tossed it in the trash, not thinking much about it. Sunday night I noticed a bigger tuft of wool hanging from his neck. This time I pulled it off, and retrieved the previous tuft from the trash. Might as well play with the lovely stuff; it's the finest fleece on Boulderneigh! Monday morning there was more, and he seemed quite content to let me collect it; he especially liked my pulling off the short stuff on his cheeks and chin and around his cute little ears. I also noticed a little tuft hanging from his brisket. It is looking like Blackberry is going to roo!This was my "harvest" from the three chore times next to my size 9 shoe for comparison. There is noticeable dander (click to biggify; you'll see the lovely crimp, too); I washed a sample in very hot water to see if it was just grease but it didn't dissolve.

Anyway, I'm surprised at this development, since Inky doesn't loosen up her fleece at all, and I am not aware that Blackberry's sire Franjean did, either. I didn't learn about rooing until after I got my first Shetlands, and wished then that I had known enough to select sheep for that trait. Being able to harvest the fleece by hand and have a softer end product with no second cuts or nicks on my sheep really appealed to me. And now, serendipitously, it looks like I may have raised a sheep in my flock with this trait! Of course, it remains to be seen if he roos completely, or just in patches; all at once, or over weeks or months. If he does roo cleanly within a short period of time, I will be even more thrilled with this young half-poll ram and what he brings to the breeding shed!

That's it for now at . . .

14 comments:

Laura said...

The other cause of rooing (fleece breaking) is stress. Since he's now in with Braveheart, he could be getting pounded or at least glared at, and be all stressed out...

However, Shetlands are known for "heaving" (rooing), and trying to shear one that's just started heaving is murder for both the shearer and the sheep. You almost have to wait 2-3 weeks until there's some space between the heave line and the skin so the shears can get between. I've shorn Shetlands for a couple of friends in Nevada - I declined to shear the ones that were heaving after inflicting more damage than I was comfortable with.

Check the rest of your flock - they might be incipient roo-ers, and that could affect your shearing date!

Deb W said...

Rooing on my species is called 'molting.' ha-ha One does, but only the back and upper sides, and one doesn't. They are breeding out the trait.

Christine said...

Blanche and Rose, last years lambs, are both starting to loosen up. I wish they weren't doing it so darned early. I don't have coats for them. If I go ahead and roo they'll freeze their buns off.

A :-) said...

Is the dander a problem? If it doesn't come out when you wash it, how do you get it out?

Michelle said...

Laura, the only two sheep I've had that I harvested by hand had fleece breakage due to severe illness. Blackberry hasn't been ill and is next to, not in with, Braveheart. He is definitely rooing, because with a stress break, ALL the fleece came off at once and he is loosening up in stages.

Yes Adrienne, unfortunately dander IS a problem. If I had wool combs I'd try them to see if that removed the flakes, but I don't.

Tammy said...

Hi Michelle,
Pretty fleece anyway! Love all the different color shades. Many of my sheepies roo around the neck--even the Dorsets, but I've never pursued trying to roo them (the Shetlands that do loosen their neck fleec), as its so cold still. If one of them does a little later in the season, I'd like to try! I think it would be pretty neat to peel off a pretty fleece. Definately a trait to breed for, it would be an esp. good selling point for small fiber flock owners (since shearers are often difficult to get for a smaller flock.) As for the dander, do you have any of the wire teeth slicker brushes for dogs? They work just as well as the combs.
Tammy

Michelle said...

Tammy, I do have a slicker brush I use for opening up locks to spin from them. I'll give it a try!

Sheep that roo do seem to do it early in the season. Here it is mild enough to not be a problem; I have the coats and their fleece grows fast. The only other sheep I own who is even remotely "tufty" is Blackberry's twin sister Bramble, but even on her neck her fleece is pretty tight and she doesn't appreciate me pulling on it.

Kenleigh's Fiber Studio said...

His fleece is very pretty. Good luck with the whole rooing thing :)

Heather said...

What roo-tiful fleece!

Vicki Foster said...

I have several that are showing signs of rooing - but it is too darn early for that up here! There has been a longish warm snap and the animals think it's spring!! I'm sure we'll have another cold snap before the end of March, but I'll collect whatever I can from the girls so it is not wasted.

Happy roo-ing! :)

Theresa said...

Rooing looks pretty darn cool! I learn something new all the time. The fleece looks lovely too. I was going to suggest the dog slickers but I see that's already been put forth!

susan said...

I had a wether roo a couple years ago that did a complete roo and it took me less time to peal it off than if I had shorn him. He had never been sick. It was later in the season when I went to do it, and from a distance he just looked terribe, all lumpy with tufts poking out.
The fleece was so easy to process. It washed up real well, and was pre teased for carding.

Unfortunatly rooeing would not be for the flock that likes to have shearing parties, or has a large group that a shearer does all at on time. They arn't as predictable.

I love the dark black, and can't wait to see if I get some this year.

Kathy said...

Cool Beans! I hope he roos fast and furious-ly!

sheepsclothing said...

I love roo-ed wool. No short bits, no cut ends. Just clouds of soft wooliness. Would be so cool to have a whole flock of roo-ers, eh?