Sunday, October 02, 2011

The dating game

Breeding season has started at Boulderneigh, and it's been nearly as noisy as weaning season! Bramble and Bonny have yelled the most over the splitting up of the ewe flock, but it's finally getting quieter as the light of day fades.

Last year I used CIDRs because I had a leased ram to use for a limited time. Others have re-used inserts successfully, so I decided to try that this year and see what happens. I will leave the ewes with their chosen partners for three weeks and forgo a back-up ram so lambs will arrive by late March. I don't know if I'll show next year (I didn't this year), but having lambs on the ground early is the only way to have them weaned in time for Black Sheep Gathering in June. Plus, I'll be able to go to our church's spring women's retreat in early April.

I have two breeding "groups" this year, having decided with Laura's help to let Blake sit this season out. I put Annabelle in the Ram-ada Inn with Cadbury; she seems less than thrilled with this arrangement. Could it be that Cadbury looks more like a Halloween character than Mr. Right?
Yep, sometime overnight he knocked his other scur cockeyed! Now that he has an outlet for all that testosterone, maybe he'll settle down.

My other three adult ewes - Bramble, Sarai and Marta - are with Annabelle's handsome hunk of a son Bunker. But first, Rick helped me get him all spiffed up for his big date by trimming his hooves and scurs. Then he posed for his online dating profile photo:
If you think he looks good in a suit, you should see him undressed. (-;
(Last rib, mid-side.) Oh yeah!

What are my hopes for these pairings? (Feel free to go blog-hopping at this point; the following is as much for my own records as anything. But I also welcome deposits on next spring's lamb crop!) :-)

White Annabelle carries solid, black and possibly moorit. I would love to find out for sure by getting at least one solid moorit lamb from her. Of course, having that moorit color in a fine, crimpy fleece of good length (4" minimum) on well-conformed, fully polled twins of finer bone and features than Annabelle would be my dream. Since both Annabelle and Cadbury have good conformations, good tails, correct earsets, poll and cheek wool, and crimpy fleeces with good length, I really do expect excellent quality from this pairing - even if the lambs end up being white, fully-horned rams.

Now for Bramble, Sarai and Marta. Since the latter two are yearlings and Bramble didn't take last year, I may only get two lambs out of this group, even though one of my goals is to learn if Bunker is homozygous for white. To achieve that goal, it would be ideal if all three settle and bear twins - although that would give me a LOT of lambs for my small operation! Whatever I get, I expect fleeces and structure to be awesome given the lambs' parentage. There is a short wish list, however. 1) For Bramble to have lambs with crimpier, softer fleece than their dam. 2) For Marta to have lambs with more size and typier tails than their dam. 3) For my sweet Sarai to have lambs with longer fleece than their dam. 4) Either fully polled or fully horned offspring from all (yeah, like THAT is going to happen - but a girl can dream!).

So for the next three weeks, I have FOUR groups of sheep to feed and water. Besides Annabelle and Cadbury in the Ram-ada Inn; Bunker and his ladies are in the wooded lot; Blake and Browning remain in the lot between the barn and arena; and Inky, Bonny and Bart are hangin' out in the Sheep Sheraton. I plan to use this time to pick over Bart's beautiful fleece so I can cover it up until shearing next spring. He is still for sale, but I might just have to call dibs on that fleece!

That's it for today from . . .


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

I gotta tell you, if I were a Shetland wool fan, I'd be in trouble :)

Deb W said...

I wonder if the CIDRs had anything to do with your overly abundant ram crop last Spring?

Michelle said...

Maybe you just haven't had a chance to try to the RIGHT Shetland wool yet, Becky! (-; But I can't sell you Bunker's fleece anyway; the lady in Switzerland who got his hogget fleece has already called dibs on his next fleece.

Actually Deb, last year I got half girls and half boys, the best ratio to date! I got a higher percentage of boys all the years I DIDN'T use CIDRs except my very first lambing, and those ewes came already bred.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

All that pre-breeding planning, wishing, dreaming is so much fun! Then, those 5 months of waiting to see what you got. By the end of lambing season, I always say I'm not breeding so many ewes next time. But, kinda like having babies myself, I've already forgotten the pain and am anxious to do it again! No breeding here until after we've recovered from this weekend and the big event.

Anonymous said...

Bunker sure is a hunk. Love that fleece!