Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baa baa BLACK SHEEP ???

Well, here's a first at Wild Rose Farm ...... look at the ewe lamb that was waiting for us when we came home! We've never produced any natural colored lambs here before. I'll be going over the genetics of this lamb. More on genotype & phenotype at a later date. Just suffice it to say that while this is fun, she sure won't qualify for registered Polled Dorset status. I've talked to a few of my "peeps" about how unscrupulous breeders have mixed breeds to obtain a phenotype (the physical appearance of the animal) that is popular in the show ring and then passed the animals off as "purebreds". My feeling was that our last ram had fine wool breeding in his background based on his micron test. Looks like those color genetics had a chance to come together, eh? This very vigorous lamb is the result of breeding a sire to his daughter, aka "inbreeding". It's one way that breeders attempt to "fix" desirable traits. That was not our intent here, it's just how the ewes were split between rams since we didn't intend to keep the offspring for breeding. Here's a little on sheep breeding systems from Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center.

By the way, the lamb's name is "U". And she may be a keeper. Nothing like adding a "natural colored" fleece to the fair wool entries!

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