Breeding Goals

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by minnikin1, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    The other day I was surfing around and found a farm site that listed their
    breeding goals in detail.
    They were excellent, and very aligned with what I would like to do.

    Then (oops) I deleted my history and forever lost that site.... :grump:

    I think they were raising lincolns or romneys...
    Nevertheless, I thought it was a great idea to share this info with potential buyers.

    Do you post your breeding philosophy? Care to share which traits you
    most try to strive for?
     
  2. jlo

    jlo Active Member

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    We would like to focus on taste/product issues but our top priorities right now are hardiness/health on a pasture system and good mothering. Working with a heritage breed has come with challenges we didn't expect.
     

  3. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    Oooo - this is a very interesting thread. :nerd:

    When we first got our Bluefaced Leicesters (BFL) my first goal was to establish different bloodlines, since they were so rare in the US. Now, 10 years later, there are quite a few breeders, and we've imported enough new genetics from the UK that inbreeding is no longer an issue.
    So now - I am selecting for productivity traits. I have a flock that can lamb unassisted, and have nicely shaped udders and well placed teats so that I don't have to supplimental feed the lambs, or help them learn to nurse.
    I want ewes with nice, long, strong backs that can carry triplets without becoming broken down and sway-backed. I also select for stock that is up on their pasterns, since my flock is expected to graze year-round. Also, I want heavily pregnant ewes that don't have weak pasterns, and rams that can support their weight on their back legs for breeding.
    Like most Leicesters due to their roman noses, BFLs can have bad bites. So I am careful to select for lower teeth that meet the upper dental pad. I also have to watch for good fleece coverage, since BFL are prone to "peeling" along the belly, chest, and around the leg and tail area.

    Of course, since I am raising registered stock, I also have to select for proper breed type. I'm getting much more picky about the rams I use, and register to sell. Besides good general conformation, I also want good blue skin color, good lock structure in the fleece, a big roman nose, and ears that are properly set.

    Its fun, but hard work, and maybe someday I will have "perfect" sheep :rolleyes:

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  4. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    One thing I've noticed that raises a big question for me, is the trend to
    make culling choices based on various genetic testings.

    OK, so they've studied enough genetics to know that X gene is related to
    Y disease. So everyone culls the X gene carriers.
    What about all the things about X gene they haven't figured out yet?
    Isn't it possible that some other unknown but beneficial traits will be lost?
    I see too many breeders jumping into this wholeheartedly and I think they are failing to learn from past mistakes...

    I'm still working out my goals.
    My flock (finns) is going to be mostly for wool and milk.
    Our plans are to stay with a small flock and I will be hand milking, so friendly temperament is up at the top. They are already hardy, and this trait I want to take care to maintain.

    I've decided to concentrate my effort on wool quality instead of color, at least for now. However, I do prefer dark pigment and it's sunburn resistance. So skin color I'll work at, wool not so much.
    I would like to see more luster in the wool, and a little bit more softness. Most of mine could use better uniformity also. They tend to be hairier in the britch area.

    Unlike Lisa, I am at odds with the breed standard for my breed. It would be correct according to the standard for finns to promote large litters. I don't care for this and would like to have saner numbers of lambs.
    (So many of you will wonder why I picked finns in this case - It's because I love EVERY other feature about them, more than any other breed I've come across so far.)

    My personal preference in appearance tends toward dark eyes over light, and dished faces over square or roman.

    I have been playing with the idea of crossing with gotland or romney and friesian.
    I want to maintain the short, no-dock tail! I don't care if I gain a forelock in the transistion.

    It's fun thinking about it..
     
  5. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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  6. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Minnikin, after reading Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation", I think your questioning attitude makes sense. Unexpected traits can be linked by genes. She writes about fur fox breeders who selected for calm temperament and found themselves with friendly, almost dog-like foxes whose coat color changed to black and white, like border collies. Further generations had problems with their heads and seizures, I think.

    I'm new to sheep and have only a few, but I know I'd like my sheep to have lovely fleece and be as easy care and fool-proof as possible (worming, lambing, general health).
     
  7. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    You folks are hitting the genetic nail right on the head-- culling based on testing is "breed genocide" at the least-- Several years ago, Cornell University FINALLY announced that EVERYTHING is polygenetic. MANY years ago, I argued with a fellow dog breeder-- "If you breed AGAINST a few stray white hairs, how do you know you are not also eliminating the alleles that prevent Hip Dyspalsia?" I was laughed at-- but folks, the connections are being made-- there is a REASON why there is so much apparent redundancy in the genetic code. So manyp eople think Mixed breed dogs are going to be healthier-- No such luck--I have seen plenty of random bred and designer dogs that sport the same health issues of the aprent stock-- The same is true in any species.

    And Yes, Temple Grandin does an excellent job of showing how a person/program can accidently cause a problem within a species or breed. Not only ids the fox coloring a good example, but roosters RAPING the hens is another one--

    The Barbaos Blackbelly Consortium has been offered free scrapies codone testing for their their member flocks, but we are all aware that we should NOT base our culling decisions on the outcome of these tests-- the numbers are too few within the US to be so brazen.

    Terry
     
  8. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I want it all!!! :rolleyes:

    I guess I look first at the body structure of an animal, first, before checking on any milk or weight records. I want an animal that stands up square on all four legs; not cow hocked or over at the knees...I'm a real freak about that, lol! Because I've not started milking the friesians yet, I'm starting with a blank slate in terms of what to expect. I know they've got a nice lambs fleece (can see that) and that they carry the size to make a nice carcass weight. But weight and wool will be secondary to milk.

    I suppose, where culling is concerned, I'd take a nice fleece with above average milk over an above average milker with an adequate fleece, because I do work with the wool quite a bit. I suppose a grading scale would be good thing to have, so that you can be really practical about it all. I also think you need to look at the offspring before culling a ewe or ram as well. While they may be somewhere between average or above average, they could throw some outstanding offspring that would make them worth keeping.