Friday, January 7, 2011

Siobhan

And last but not least is Siobhan, which I guess is an irish name, but I had no hand in naming her. She was born on St. Patrick's Day. This one is a bit of a long story, but, for us, it was worth the research and hard work.


Okay, we went looking for a white ewe last spring with the intent on producing an exceptional white ewe lamb that we could AI. That was the plan. The next step was to find one. It turned out to be tough, but we did find Queen Anne’s Lace, who ended up being just what we needed (thanks Juliann). I've seen a few white ewes that I've liked a lot, but they weren't available when we were looking. That's probably a good thing, because the longer we've owned Queen Anne, the more we like her. Plus, she sheared like butter, so that's a nice thing as well!
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The next step was to find an AI ram that we liked. To be honest, I’m not in love with a lot of the ram’s that were imported. First, I considered Heatheram Lightning, primarily because he was white and we wanted to improve the odds of getting that in a lamb. Ultimately, we decided on Heights Orion, who I liked a lot better. I like Jericho better, but I wanted to stay away from grey katmoget rams, since, you know, we were already using two of them last year. Plus, I knew from talking with people that the odds of getting a good Orion lamb increased substantially with the use of a good ewe. There was really no point in investing in AI unless we were very confident in the choice of ewes. Queen Anne wasn't our best ewe, so it was a risky venture, but her fleece had certain properties that we were looking to reproduce, so it made sense. There were some other reasons as well, but I won't bore you anymore than I already have. The point is that Queen Anne had some wonderful traits, and if we did no better than to reproduce her, we would've been in good shape. We did better than that, however!
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Anyway, we are quite happy with this lamb. Her fleece is so dense and uniform and she has a knockout conformation! She is about as good as we could've hoped for. Plus, she carries moorit from her father and gives us the option of getting black, moorit, or white. Those are all bonuses, but we'll take whatever good fortune comes our way.
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I don’t have any gripes about Siobhan! I think she’s a pretty amazing F1 Orion (72% UK). I want to copy her fleece as many times as I can, and at the same time, attempt to shave a micron or two off of it. I’ve found it very difficult to get extra fine fleeces with great density, luster, and length. It’s a balancing act that we may never achieve, but if we can’t, I want all of our sheep to look and feel like this one.
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Siobhan is also in the mix for nicest shetlands we've ever had here. It's difficult to compare lambs since they all grow at such different rates, but she has a great frame already. Given that she's older than the other ewe lambs, we'll have to wait a year to really compare, but her conformation is top notch. When we did AI last fall (on a very limited basis), my goal was to reproduce Queen Anne's unbelievable fleece consistency and softness, while improving on her overall conformation (which is actually pretty darn nice already). We weren't looking for spots, a poll carrier, or moorit, however, we merely envisioned combining some cool blood lines to get something really nice...in white. Mission accomplished!
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Again, none of our sheep are perfect, but I really like this one!

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