Monday, June 25, 2007

On defining colors and naming lambs

My head hurts. I have been studying the Shetland Sheep Information site (see link at right) to bone up on my color genetics, and for the moment, I think I understand the genotypes as presented. The phenotypes, on the other hand, seem open for debate! And if we as breeders can't agree on what to call the phenotype, can we really define genotype? From what I've gathered on the Shetland breeders list, people in the UK don't get "all het up" about color and markings like we Americans do. Maybe I need to follow their example and chill. Unfortunately, that's really not my personality; I want to KNOW! Arg . . . my head hurts.

I WOULD like your opinion on one Shetland's color, though. Pictured below are the head and body of a six-year-old ewe. Is she a moorit, a fawn, or a musket? Please tell me WHY you define her as the color you do, too. It might help me in defining her daughter, my little Brava. (If you double-click on the photos, they will enlarge greatly.)
Speaking of Brava, I have learned from Gail Former that I will need to use the Valiant prefix of the lambs' breeder unless she is willing to back-date a Ram Lease form for the ewes (the form is good for both sexes). I don't want to ask Beryl to do that, so Valiant it is. Your opinion is desired again, dear readers. Do I keep the names I had chosen, even though their prefix won't be Boulderneigh? I had chosen Braveheart and Brava for "B" names with meanings related to "valiant," so the names Valiant Braveheart and Valiant Brava seem a bit silly in their redundancy.

Awaiting your input at . . .


Carol B said...

I like the names Valiant Brava and Valiant Braveheart.

I think the 6 year old ewe is moorit with some age greying. Age greying is called iset in Shetlands. The body gets more and more white fibers as the sheep gets older. Some start as young as a year old. Others around 3 years old. And a few never develop the iset.

Kathy said...

I agree with Carol on the names - I think they fit just fine. :)

From the photographs, I would list the ewe as musket. Iset would be definite white mixed in with the other wool fibers (Skit's iset), but the ewe's wool looks grey, not white to me.

I agree with you on the whole color these sheep change color annually, it seems. (lol)

Franna said...

Shetlands, indeed, can be difficult to pin down color wise. If both the lambs have white in their ears, around their mouths, in the groin, at the roots, you can pretty safely call them musket.

The 6 year old ewe looks to be iset moorit to me. Musket sheep will often develop light eye rings and muzzles, and she doesn't have any of that. Her grey/white appears to be patchy, more typical of iset than musket.

I think the names go well with Valiant. What nice names for two well traveled lambies. Let the ram be skittish. You will get along much better that way.

Tina T-P said...

I think you have a concensus on the names Michelle - I think Valiant Braveheart and Valiant Brava are outstanding names - (and you really won't use the Valiant name except on registration papers anyhow) Tina

Kathy said...

I think Franna nailed it - I forgot about hte lighter hairs around the eyes, lips, etc.