Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Lambs - Egyptian King

Well, it’s been a tough spring to get pictures, but I finally bit the bullet and took some in the barn just to give people an idea of what we’ve had so far.

This lambing has been much anticipated because it represents several years of work accumulating top notch genetics in hopes of developing a flock that closely resembles what you might see in the UK, where all North American Shetlands originated. We felt it was better to get back to our old world roots than to perpetuate the continuation of a shiny new breed that has been created in the US. Not all of our sheep meet that lofty vision, but the sheep that we have here were brought in as pieces of a genetic puzzle that we continue to assemble year after year. We continue to welcome the incredible diversity that this breed offers, but I do think that we need more Shetlands in the US that reflect the UK approach to breeding (there are precious few of them in the US) and we want to be a part of that. I continue to find it interesting that if you look at our flock, we really don’t have a high percentage of UK content in it. But genetically speaking, they are producers, and it’ll be tough to part with any of them. Anyway, here are some of the lambs so far, starting with Egyptian King’s group.

We bred Whispering Pines Blue Diamond (Blue’s Clues x Constantinople) to Whispering Pines Egyptian King (Wintertime Bond x Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit) in hopes of leveraging some pretty amazing genetics. It was a tough call breeding a wildly spotted moorit ewe to a solid black unproven ram, but it was too good a cross and I couldn’t see doing it another way.

I’m very pleased with the results. Diamond had a solid black ewe lamb with a small spot on her head, and a fawn katmoget ewe. You be the judge, but I think these are stunning lambs. The black one is just what we were looking for – an unpatterned sheep with a stunning, consistent fleece. And in my opinion, the fawn katmoget is even nicer. Both carry spots, and the black one also carries moorit. These lambs represent several years of breeding for fine, consistent Shetland fleeces, and I am quite excited about their potential. The lambs are 53% UK (see, not that high).

Not to be outdone, Christmas Holly (FirthofFifth Thayu x Lil’Country Possum) came through with an incredible black ram lamb out of Egyptian King. This is also a stunning lamb. I know he is black, and who gets excited about that, but we said that about his father last year, and look at the lambs he gave us so far. I wish I had bred more ewes to him.

Again, this lamb has a very dense, crimpy, and uniform fleece. I’m not going to say I don’t wish he was a ewe (and moorit), but you get what you get and you never know who is going to give you the top quality lambs. When you get a Shetland of this quality, we just accept it for what it is without getting disappointed over gender or color. I also expect this lamb to be polled. He is 43.5% UK.

So, the only thing we’ve proven so far about Egyptian King is that he carries moorit and has thrown three lambs that are his equal or better (nice long bodies, fine, crimpy fleeces, great toplines, etc.). We have one more ewe bred to him (Blue Sapphire), and we are looking forward to her lamb (another Blue’s Clues daughter).

I’ll post more lambs on Wednesday.


Kelly Bartels said...

Stunning lambs! I love black lambs....and when they are put together as nicely as yours, that's a giant bonus. Great conformation, great fleece.....I think you are on to something there. :D (grin)

stephen rouse said...

Rich and Jen: they give me shivers! :-) Wow... look at their conformation! And the fleeces are so uniform. That black one's fleece is so cool too. incredible! You must be just elated.