Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tail - 9 points - Shetland Standard 1927

Tail Fluke tail. Wool at root forming the broad rounded part, and tapering suddenly to barely covered fine point. This is a strong character, and any crossing is easily made out by it. Length varies according to the size of sheep, rarely exceeds six inches, or thereby.
9 points

Now I'm pretty sure we all agree that tails are pretty easy to fault or praise? A tail is something obvious that we can say 'oh its way too wooly' or 'its too long' or 'its not fluke shaped'.

So why 9 points?

Apparently breeders from days past realized this as a breed specific trait. Any crosses typically had longer tails that needed to be docked (or if they weren't resembled large tubes of sausage!) I know on the BFLs and their mules that they need to be docked. This was one way of telling a 'true' shetland from the crosses that were beginning to happen.

I did cull most of my 'wooly' tails out that resembled beaver tails with wool on them. I didn't cull them only for that, they had other huge glaring faults. What I do have a few of though are those tails that i call "rat tails". do you know what I am talking about? They have hair on most of their tails instead of wool on the top part. They are in my higher %UK and I'm not sure if that is considered a fault or if its ok? The standard doesn't say a think about those. I guess they are fluked, but they are lacking the wool (or it roo's itself off)

What say you?

9 comments:

Mim said...

I have some rat tails and thought it was ok as long as the tail was around six inches. They are my sheep with the smaller fleece weights. Their rump from behind looks like a round target is very clean like their tails until the late summer when their fleece starts to fill in. Some have the best tails some look like they need more fleece at the top. Maybe opposite of the woolie tail and we should look for ones in between? I thought I needed a dense full fleece to solve this.

Garrett808 said...

I agree Mim. I think that there should be wool on the tail and it seems as though when I breed the rat tails to 'normal' tails I get mostly normal tails. It just looks more 'pleasing' to me to have the normal tail. Maybe I can get some photos of these tails for discussion.

Theresa said...

Clean heads (no poll or cheek wool) typically goes hand in hand with little or no wool around tail head area.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I took photos this morning of my ram Braveheart and his wethered son Browning, and think I will post an invite to critique them on my blog like Juliann has been doing on hers. When Braveheart is "in fleece," his tail looks perfect to me. I do have one ewe with a rat tail, but she has always thrown nice tails. I have a wooly-tailed ewe (who has poll wool in the winter), and this year's lambs (her first) have wooly tails. I have read (can't remember where) that rat tails are not considered a big fault because they ARE easy to correct (as both Garrett and I have experienced), whereas wooly tails are a dominant trait that comes from distant outcrossing.

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Just so I understand the terms...

"Wooly" simply means a perfectly shaped tail with too much fluff? Or does it mean a bigger sized fluffy tail?

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Well, I can speak for my one wooly-tailed ewe. When her tail is sheared or otherwise de-fleeced, it looks like my other Shetlands' tails, as in same length, slightly thicker at top. It even looks to have wool on top and hair on the tip. But the wool comes back in and grows all over it, making the shape indistinguishable from a floor duster. This makes it a magnet for muck, too -- a practical reason to cull for it!

Laura said...

I had a lot of "rat" tails in my sheep and noticed that they improved within one generation of useing my AI rams with good tails. The wooly all they way down tails are very hard to improve. (My ewes who had wooly tails were not even as wooly as some that I've seen. So I can only imagine that they would be almost impossible to improve.)I'm going to keep trying one one ewe line, but if they don't improve it is not a big deal as I can remove them from the purebreeding/the gene pool and use them for crossing.

Juliann said...

My mentors taught that ideally the tail is 2/3 wool (at the top) and 1/3 hair at the bottom. The tip should ideally come to the base of the testes in a ram, base of the bag in a ewe. This proportion allows for different sized shetlands, large or small, rather than a set length in inches. And then the fluke shape, although a lot of my sheep tend to taper like a candle or a thumb rather than be the perfect fluke shape. I have been trying to cull for better tails.
A perfect tail is challenging to get from less than perfect tails, but sometimes it happens. It's importance was stressed as a breed characteristic because so much crossbreeding was going on at the time the shetland standard was developed (same for roman noses, to keep the cheviot crossbreeds out).
Still people here in NA trying to pass off crossbreeds as purebreds! Shame on them! Check the tail if you don't know who your buying from, I guess!
I'm pretty forgiving of a less than perfect tail, expecially in ewes, as it doesn't affect the soundness or health of the sheep like other characteristics do. I know my sheep are purebred and not cheviot or leicester crosses.
Like fleeces, the spotted shetlands tend to have woolier tails although I'm seeing them get better and better.

Juliann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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