Friday, October 29, 2010

Breeding Season!

It's always a challenge to figure out who goes with whom, when do we start, and when do we end. I maintain a small flock of purebred Shetlands, and breeding up the Gotlands. Firth of Fifth Barish came all the way from Minnesota to be the Shetland "man" here, but first he stopped at Michelle's Boulderneigh farm. Barish came "home" from Michelle's last week and went in with my six synchronized Shetland ewes, Electra, Bessie, Astrid, Blanca, Mindy and Toffee.

Actually, the first breeding group here was Caidon (87.5% Gotland/12.5% Shetland) with three sold % Gotland sheep - Queen, Razel, and Ruffles, and the four Finns, Niblet, Freckles, Pinky and The Brain. These girls went to a farm in Ephrata on Monday. Danson (75% Gotland/25% Finn. With 2 sisters and several daughters here, he was kind of superfluous) went with them to catch any that Caidon didn't.

Yesterday, Barish and Dancer went to service ewes for Kendara, leaving space here to shuffle sheep into more breeding groups. So, it was kind of like dominoes. The 6 Shetlands had to vacate the Hilton breeding suite, so they went into the ewe lamb pasture, after the ewe lambs were locked in the barn. Three ewes from the ewe lamb group (Alice, Marie, and Cocoa Puff) and one from the big ewe group (DeeTee) went into the lane, so they could be led into the Hilton breeding suite.

It got a little exciting when Caidon jumped this fence as this first group of ewes - for Jack - went by to their breeding pen. We quickly penned them, caught, haltered, and tied Caidon and put up the electric topline. He promptly checked it with his nose and stayed put.

We then haltered and led *Jack* into the breeding pen with the four ewes. I realized after taking the photo that all 5 are Gotland/Shetland. Left to right they are Alice (75% Gotland), Marie (Alice's twin), Jack, DeeTee (50% Gotland) and Cocoa Puff (DeeTee's daughter, 25% Gotland). Puff is pushed back and looks small in this photo, but she's almost as big as Alice and Marie. This group has the potential to produce brown (grey) as well as (black) grey. I'm excited about these lambs ... well, okay, I'm excited about all the lambs :-)

Next, Angie (50% Gotland/25% Shetland/25% Finn) and Daisy (37.5% Gotland/25% Border Leicester/25% Bluefaced Leicester/12.5% Shetland) were separated from the "big" ewe group in the barn and again brought down the lane - this time into Caidon's lair. This photo is fun - showing Daisy with her higher set "Leicester" ears and Angie and Caidon with lower (just above horizontal) Gotland/Shetland ears.

Here's another view of Caidon. He's got a nice, long body, 4 square legs, strong topline, beautifully curled fleece. He has knobby, loose scurs which sometimes occur on polled breeds of sheep.

The Shetland girls got integrated into the small ewe group in the barn. They immediately went to the hay feeder to "tuck in". Here are Toffee (upper left), Eclaire (below Toffee), Astrid (behind 'Claire), Blanca (visible green tag), Randi (little white lamb), and Bessie.

In the back of the barn, Mindy and Bessie (along with one of the Speckled Sussex hens) go through the new bedding looking for goodies.

...while Fiona settles into the corner to chew some cud.

In the other section of the barn, 7 of the big ewes are held in anticipation of our possible December AI. We should know by mid-November if the AI will be reality. Six of the ewes are in this photo - from left top is Eve (Scottish Blackface), Bossie (Gotland/Finn), Gem (75% Gotland), Chamois (Gotland/Finn), Jewel (75% Gotland), and Bits (Gotland/Finn). Bunny (Gotland/Shetland) is out of the photo to the right, and alpaca, Acclaim, peeks over the top of the feeder.

More sheep! This group is the ram lambs, most of whom will go to market in a couple weeks. These fellas are Gotland crosses, one Shetland and one SuffolkX. There are some nice sheep in here that would have been keepers if they'd been female.
Here is Dusty, the Shetland ram lamb. He's a grey gulmoget, friendly and very cute.
So, I'm done with sheep shuffling for a while. It's time for the voyeur part - if I want to know when lambs are due. :-)
- Franna


Michelle said...

Would Dusty work for the lady mentioned on the NW Shetland list who wants a reasonable pet mower?

Jody said...

I see you are breeding Puff who was born in April. That makes me feel better about having my Finn lamb Lacey (born May 6) in with our one of the new Gotland rams (also 6 months old).

Franna said...

Michelle, I am talking to her about Dusty. He'd be a great pet/mower, and I'm sure *someone* would want his fleece. He's Blackberry and Mindy's boy.

Jody, Puff grew well, as did Alice and Marie, so they should be fine. Finns are expected to breed as lambs, so yours should be okay, too, though she might settle later. The Finn and Gotland rams are precocious! We've used several young ones as successful cleanup rams.