Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Leicester groups together

For those of you who have known me awhile, my love affair with BlueFaced Leicesters is a long one. Having first seen them at the Michigan Fiber Festival, while there with Shetland breeder friends, I fell in love with a natural colored ewe, Beechtree Blackwater Dee. BFLs have a face that you either love or hate immediately. But either way, if you spend time with them, you realize just how mellow, friendly and good natured they are to each other and to people. I brought home a few lambs later that fall and my love/hate relationship began. Fast forward to present and I have a handsome ram, Bodminmoor, who will have 4 ewes this fall: three natural colored and one white. I have also retained two white ewe lambs from this year, to use next fall as well. I have always had a difficult time having enough sheep available for the market, and never enough wool from them to satisfy even a few customers (usually one person will buy everything i have).

BlueFaced Liecesters are a breed renowned in their own country for making the best crossing ewes for commercial flocks (approximately 65% or more were made up of mules in the UK in their commercial flock last I heard). they have large loins, high milk, narrow faces (to also help in lambing ease on the crosses), and just the best expression and temperament I could ever see in a sheep.

During most of the year, I praise these animals for many things, and sometimes struggle during lambing or around weaning time. They are not for the faint of heart, and obviously require more maintenance than my Shetlands, but even after 8 years with them I feel like I always need to have a few.

I was to the BLU national in 2010 when it was in Eugene Oregon at the Black Sheep Gathering. I was also at the national when it was at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, Ohio.I've seen them being worked at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival by Nancy Starkey's border collies, and i've shown them at both Michigan Fiber Festival and at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.  I have purchased semen from imported rams and will AI again someday, after a successful naturally bred lambing season. I really do appreciate the BFL.

The BFL ram over Shetland ewes, creating Shetland Mules, was a beautiful cross that I kept until just recently with the downsizing of the farm. They are still working, back in Minnesota, to make market lambs. The wool and their hardiness were outstanding, on ewes that were about 120 pounds and twinned easily and never with assistance.

Below is my breeding group of BFLs. I will get a lot of natural colored, and I believe the white ewe does not carry color, so will only get white lambs from her.
thank you to the ladies who continue to support me in the breed and to those who try to get me quality sheep to use in my breeding program.

Left to right: (Bodminmoor (1yo), Izlyn (1yo), Silverbelle (6yo), Blue Bayou (1yo) and 527 (3yo)
First day together on October 15

Bodmin trying to make his moves on BB while she's distracted.

In addition to the BFL group, I put the Leicester Longwool group together on October 22, a week after the BFL. I am hoping all 7 will lamb before the shetlands start, and get the stress out of the way! I'm so thankful to Anne for believing in me and allowing these four to come to me, just about a year ago today!
All yearling sheep, (left to right) Remedy, Rowan, Roux, Riggs (ram)
Rowan is put out that she's in a pen with a BOY.

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 ...