Monday, September 22, 2008

Breeding Groups

** Warning! Long post. Be prepared to not leave to go to the bathroom or answer the phone. So grab a coffee or tea and a blanket and settle in to read.**

Ah yes...its that time of year again. Where the rams get all rowdy and the girls flirty. I've had this time of year on my mind for over a year, since LAST year's breeding groups were put together. What should I put the lamb out of THIS breeding to NEXT year?!! LOL. Its comical and keeps me guessing......I guess that is why I do it ;)

This is only my third breeding season. My first season I had one ram with 5 ewes, my second season I had 3 rams with 13 ewes, 9 ewes and 5 ewes. This year I don't know!!!

This year my goals were simple yet hard to accomplish. I wanted a moorit based ram. I must admit I'm already pretty picky about a ram (and I'm sure all of us are!). I couldn't decide on one, so I got two. A moorit and a fawn katmoget. Both from Theresa Gygi. I also wanted a moorit gulmoget and I found that with Juliann Budde. He is also polled to boot and I can work him into some of my ewes that are known poll carriers. I also needed a BFL ram and I found a natural colored/English Blue ram lamb at Stephen Rouse's farm. Add those four to Jazz and Barish, my two homozygous black, grey katmoget rams and I have six groups. I also decided to keep Lyons, a sheala solid ram out of Jazz. He's super soft and just growing gorgeously. You may have seen him at WS&WF?

SO seven rams to use this fall. Oh yes! And the AI that I am doing with some friends in WI. That's a LOT of options!

All year I"ve been watching the ewes and lambs, the rams and going over pedigrees, structure, fleece handle, fleece type, colors, horn genes etc. Two rams I was planning on using I probably will sit on for a year....and one I wasn't going to use I am going to use on 5 ewes! My how things change.

One of the biggest reasons was this: I really don't want to lamb 30 ewes out next year! I did it this year, and as much fun as it was, it was spread out way too long. Some of my ewe lambs from end of May, early June are just too small for me to comfortably breed this fall. Last year i put everyone in a group and assumed they'd cycle if they were 'ready' and they'd grow over the winter. The result was smaller lambs from smaller ewes. Now that everyone is catching up in size, I ponder if I should breed ALL the ewe lambs.

I won't.

I have 15 ewe lambs that I either raise or purchased. They have been split off of the rest of the ewe flock and are going to be fed more in hopes of getting them growing more in time for the December breeding groups. Whoever isn't at least 50 pounds (or whatever number I decide it to be) by December won't be used. Currently of the 15 I have about half that are as big as the yearlings (or bigger) and will have no problem lambing next spring.

I've already sold what I felt was not needed for my breeding program, so I have left what I feel is structurally what I am striving for (or can improve upon easily enough by the right breeding), soft enough (or again improvable with the right breeding) and the right color combination (I'd ideally like blacks that are recessive for moorit and spots).

I haven't even thought where the ewes will go that will be AI'ed ....as far as a clean up ram. Since I"ll have enough rams to choose from I might do rebreedings to Jazz or Barish, or I'll try soemthing 'new' and use the ram lambs.

I collected lamb fleece samples tonight with the help of my dad. I took 15 ewe lamb samples and 5 ram lamb samples. Since I can "feel" how soft they are that's great, but I'm a numbers man and if I can see the histogram AND feel how soft it is, the better I can place the ewes to the rams.

I have an idea of who will go with Jazz as I'm hoping he'll soften the fleeces on the ewes that I"m putting with him, as well as give me some spots and some katmogets! Since he is homozygous black, I'm putting mostly moorit bases or known moorit carriers with him in hopes of getting blacks that will carry the moorit coloring.

Barish is getting some girls in hopes of pulling the modified out again. this year he threw an emsket ram lamb that went to Rayna and a couple of nice solid black lambs...all the boys were scurred too!

Barkley the moorit gulmoget is getting a white, moorit, fawn katmoget and black gulmoget, and a black...all possible poll carriers.

Mohican (fawn kat)will get most of the solid blacks from Jazz and Barish in hopes of getting some patterns and bring out the moorit gene they mostly carry.

Arapaho (moorit)will get the grey katmoget ewe lambs out of Jazz and Barish and hope for some solids and katmogets..in browns and blacks.

Burma the BFL will get the BFL girls and possibly a Shetland ewe...I'm still deciding if I want to do that this year.....or wait until next.

The boys will be used again on girls that will compliment them not only in pedigree, color and fleece type, but with the proper micron. Its the only way I feel I can really improve upon and make the fleeces finer.....if even slightly finer.

So yes...pens.....

Jazz, Barish, Arapaho, Barkley, Burma, Mohican, ewe lamb pen that aren't getting bred, ram lamb pen that I"m keeping to butcher next spring, BFL lamb pen, and Lyons might even have a few girls...that's 10 pens. Am I ready?

Last year I put the boys out with the girls October 31st. The first lambs came March 30th. I didn't take the rams out until January 15th. The last lamb came June 8th. That's WAY too long of a lambing season!

I have the Cardigan Welsh Corgi National in Kansas next early part of April and I'm planning on taking ALL FIVE dogs to compete in some sort of event throughout the week. I don't want my dad to have to worry about lambs, so I'm not putting the ground breeding groups together until November 20th. That will make it around April 20th for a lambing date and I should be home and prepared for the 2nd lambing group! They will be taken away from the girls December 30th or there about. If they don't get bred, they don't get bred and I won't have to keep waiting for ewes to lamb.

My AI girls will be AI'ed on October 26th. That puts us around March 25th or so...and they should all be lambing within a few days of each other and so whoever DOESN"T lamb then I'll know will have gotten bred by a ground breeding and will not lamb for another month. That will make the AI lambs older and bigger but I can't have so many ewes lambing when we are in blizzard season. (Last April we had 5 feet of snow over three storms...all seven days apart..and it melted in between storms) so I don't want to have too many ewes with lambs in the barns due to high amounts of snow.

PHEW. I"m exhausted just thinking about all of this...and typig it. I'm sorry I got a little winded ;) I just get excited thinking about it!

I"ll keep you posted on the micron results!

1 comment:

Rayna said...

*sigh* Yeah, my mind has been racing since last year too. I'm so up in the air! lol

A breed I can't stay away from

its true I guess that I would be first known for the fine wooled Shetland Sheep that I have procured and traveled across the USA and UK to ...