Monday, October 1, 2007

Sheep Breeding Groups

My life would much less stressful if I just knew who to breed to who. Each ram lamb I have offers such a different set of outcomes. I have many directions I could go with each ewe bred to each ram.

This spring I thought I'd get one, maybe two ram lambs and use them exclusively this fall. I had decided to move on my modified yearling ram as everything was quite related to him. I was hoping all my ram lambs were awful, ugly, coarse babies. I really wanted some lambchops and lamb brats! (Gail V got me hooked on those!)

Of course most of this realization came true. I did end up getting two F1 ram lambs. A jericho and a timothy. I did move Bourbon on (thanks Gail!). But as I sit here and wait for my micron tests to help me make a more educated decision on my other ram lambs, I'm up in the air.

I have all my ewes and ewe lambs paired up with one or the other of the F1 ram lambs. They are both katmogets but both are only heterozygous for it so I can still get some solid lambs (50% on paper but I'm sure it will be more skewed than that). If the microns come back for my 4 ram lambs I raised, plus the one from Gail V, and they are excellent, then I'll have some last minute switching to do. But to who and how many?

Remember my ram lambs are all quite related to the ewe lambs and I have seven Sandstone daughters too that I cannot realistically breed them back to. again.

So now I'm out being quite critical of the ram lambs. I'm really feeling the neck, the mid side and the britch. I'm checking for cow hocks, horns that aren't questionable, staple length, color, overall build, bites and making notes mentally on who looks the nicest, who has the strongest conformation, strongest fleece, strongest horns etc. My nicest horns are on a non NASSA regsiterable boy. he will have quite a short, single coated fleece. Will I keep him? The two F1 boys seem to have short UK style fleece too. And that's great for my ewes as most are intermediates. But what about next fall? Will he be worth hanging on to for an entire year and then realize I can't use him because the fleeces on the F2 daughters will be that much shorter? I'm only guessing, and probably poorly at that.

Another one of the boys is much more square in the rear, wider, broader, more masculine head, intermediate fleece, fawn, and crimpier fleece. However he is also non NASSA regsitered, and his one horn looks 'iffy' as compared to the nicer horns on the other boy. He is also related more so to the ewe lambs from this year as he is also a double Sandstone grandson.

That leaves the NASSA registered boys. Gails is a double coated moorit. Horns look nice, larger size.......maybe he'll be a better match for the ewe lambs from 2008? The black and the fawn/migoet boys I think are scurred are quite crimpy, soft, but their horns are iffy. I don't know what will happen with them. And I hate to purposely breed for a ton of scrurred ram lambs. Most of my girls have the potential of being poll carriers down from Sandstone. These two boys are double Sandstone and therefore could be poll carriers. mated back to the Sandstone daughters might create a ton of new polled ram lambs at my place. That would be a pleasant surprise, but one I wasn't working towards.

I hate thinking outloud. My head hurts from thinking about this too much. I want the best lambs I can get. If I decide to pass on all the ram lambs I bred, then I'd have my freezer full at least :) And a less stressed head!

Anyone care to help me wager a guess as to who to keep? I hate to have 7 breeding groups!


Becky Utecht said...

Well, good luck Garrett. I hope you figure it out and your head feels better soon. There are just so many aspects to take into account when putting together the breeding pens. I revised mine yesterday morning,hopefully there won't be too many more revisions as the month goes by.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I know what you mean about thinking so hard your head hurts! I would LOVE to trade you some of those Sandstone daughters for some of mine with horned genetics, but Minnesota is a LONG way from Oregon! Sounds like you need a new ram. Is there anyone who would be willing to trade for one of yours? What about Sabrina? Does she have an extra you could lease?

Kathy L. said...

I think we all can appreciate your head hurting, Garrett - with regards to whom to breed and whom to put with what ram. It's a good thing I start out mulling it over early, before our actual breeding dates, as I usually second guess myself and change my mind three times. LOL

Gail V said...

Hi Garrett,
sometimes I just remember that it doesn't need to be perfect, just to calm down. You can always save a few ram lambs and see how you feel about them after lambing. Then you may be taking some to the butcher one at a time. . .
It's hard to get it right, there are no guarantees and you learn more every year, so. . .
best wishes

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