Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goals are always changing

When I first got my Shetlands as you know from previous posts it was for Sadie and Oliver to herd. Let's skip forward until after first year of lambing. I was hooked! I then searched for Shetlands in what I thought I wanted: spots, katmogets, gulmogets, Ag, white, etc etc. I wanted a couple of everything and since we have the land to have them, I figured why not? I got sheep from fine fleeced farms, from spotted farms, from conformationally perfect farms and then started looking at the flock as a whole. Not a lot of the sheep looked the same. Some I liked their heads better, others their ear sets, some their tails and still others with their 'four-square' body stance. I've been going along with all of these sheep and first and foremost choose fleece and its fineness as #1 priority. Ever heard the 'build the house before you paint it"? I want sound animals with fine fleece. Fine not according to my own touch but by companies that test for it. As an extra tool to use when trying to decide who stays and who goes its amazing that nearly all of my primitive and intermediate fleeced sheep are gone as are most of my spots. Now this isn't meant to slam any one farm but to show you that while the sheep may be structurally wonderful or pleasing to the eye, they didn't have my #1 priority. Fine Fleece.

Sure sure we can always get the fleece right? IF so, why doesn't everyone have that? Average breed micron is 23. I think my average is like 27! How about yours? And do you have mostly yearlings and two year olds? or mature ewes? That makes a big difference.

I have about 10 ewes that will be available for sale July 1st. Now these animals have nice fleeces if you consider most flocks out there but they are not my best fleeced, although some of them are my most spotted or nicest conformed or most perfect 'typey' head. But my priorities must be to ever improving my flock to my priorities and that means some serious culling and some hard decisions. If I didn't have the micron tests to look at, I probably wouldn't have made it this far. And I wouldn't have ever bought or kept these ewes had I not seen a lot of merit in them. So for now, they do not have what I am looking for, but that doesn't mean they can't for you :) Please inquire!

My first spring with the Shetlands I purchased a LOT of sheep. My second spring even more. I did buy a lot, but I needed the different patterns and markings and colors before I started heavily culling out. This year I didn't plan on buying ANY sheep but thanks to my odds of not getting the few things I did want....I have a list of things I am still lacking. Several wonderful ewes have presented themselves available and I'm foolish to not acquire them. But again that means heavier culling here.

I have the ideal Shetland in my mind and I can see it. And I think I'm pretty close, but need a few components yet. With one of the larger flocks out there I like to have as much diversity as I can in spots and patterns and colors, while still maintaining my goals of fine fleeces.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Yeah, I hear you're acquiring a ewe I wanted, you rascal! V Creek Sarah needed to come out here to a flock that is going EXCLUSIVELY polled, not your your flock where you'll take them with or without horns! Still hoping to get a ram from Karen....

Juliann said...

Hi Garrett,

I meant to comment on this for a while now. Breeding for any recessive trait takes work. Breeding for spots and fine fleece, double the work. I know a lot of the fine fleece breeders are sacrificing spots in the name of fine fleece, which is understandable. What some of us need to do is knuckle down and breed fine fleeces into the spots.
There is a lot of lower quality spotted sheep out there, but for a long time spots were so hard to get! Now they are plentiful, and so why not start culling the lower quality ones and start breeding for better spotted sheep? We won't ever get there unless we try.
By "better", I mean tails truer to breed type, straighter hind legs, finer leg bones, finer crimpier fleeces, less iset, maybe we'll get lucky and get some wool on the poll.
That's why I bought some of Stephen's spotted sheep last year for new genetics. They are spotted, AND have a lot better fleece (very close to what I want) than the vast majority of the spotted sheep out there. And hopefully a lesser chance of early iset that we all struggle with.
Just some thoughts.
I want to add I'm glad you are presenting some potential controversial subjects on your blog. It's a shame we can't present such subjects on any of the message boards. When we politely debate, we open our minds to new opinions and ideas, and we all might learn something new. I know I've learned the most by some pretty heated discussions, and some of my prior opinions (or what I "knew" to be true) I've completely changed my mind on.

Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...