Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Lambs - Second Installment

Kelly Kelly is one of our two year old moorits that we like a great deal. She is a smaller ewe (which is a new goal that we added last fall), and she has a Spinning Fineness of 21.2 microns, which is outstanding for a two year old Shetland. She is out of Stonehenge and Kahlua. Last fall we put her in with Mr. Darcy in hopes of tapping into his genetics, and his yearling 18.7 micron Spinning Fineness. I was happy when I discovered Kelly was pregnant, and more excited when I saw this grey katmoget ewe lamb. It matters less to me what her micron ends up at than the fact that she is the type of lamb for which we are breeding. This lamb wins the prize for prettiest lamb so far this year.

It took two years to get offspring out of these two year olds, but it seems to be paying off. Also, not a bad start for Mr. Darcy. Sometimes when a lamb is born, you are already thinking about what is next and who we might pair him/her with in a year. That's the tough part - knowing we'll be waiting for two year's before we get the next generation out of these lambs. Then I realize that we have a bunch of last year's lambs that I thought the same thing about, and they are on deck for next year's lambs. Speaking of last year's lambs, here is the lineup in solitary confinement:

Sure, they look innocent enough, but these yearlings (AKA "Raptors") earned this with their mischief and general horseplay. They are like rebellious teenagers. I could also call them the dirty dozen. Every day they run and frolic with the flock, and every night I have to put them in solitary to restore order.

Whispering Pines Florence was the second ewe to go on 4/24, giving birth to this really nice fawn katmoget ram lamb out of Canterbury. Last year, her ewe lamb Lydia was the prize, and although it’s tough to get excited about ram lambs (especially fawn ones that you have a lot of), it’s nice to see that she produces consistently, which is rare for a Shetland. They so often throw back to garbage many years in their past.

Blue Sapphire then had two fawn katmoget ewes later on that evening to close out the day. These lambs are out of Rosewood. Good looking lambs that are very similar in appearance and quality. It always amazes me when twins are born that look so similar. I would say that Rosewood is proving himself this year as well. This is the first year we have used him, and it’s a bit of a trial balloon for this fall. Rosewood is two this yea r and has an impressive Spinning Fineness of 20.2 microns. More importantly, his fleece is very consistent from front to back, which is also a goal of ours.

Things started up again the next morning on 4/25 as Siena had two very nice lambs. The moorit is a ram, and the fawn katmoget is a ewe. These lambs are out of Canterbury. Canterbury has a Spinning Fineness of 19.4 microns, which is fantastic for a three year old Shetland. That gives us two moorit Canterbury ram lambs this year to evaluate. I think last year’s Siena lambs were some of our best (Fanny and Knightley), but I think these two might be their equal.

Kyrie put us on lamb watch all day, but didn’t give birth until 10 pm. Kyrie is a moorit out of Egyptian King and Pearl and is another two year old with a nice SF (22.4 microns). She was also bred to Mr. Darcy with the goal of adding nice black-based sheep to our flock, and that’s what we got here. This black ewe looks to be very nice. Mr. Darcy is out of Canterbury and Genoa, two Superfine Shetlands, and of course, Kyrie is out of two Superfine Shetlands as well. Lots of promise here.

This gave us a break until 6 AM the following day (4/26) when Pamela gave us two excellent ewe lambs out of Mr. Darcy. Pamela is out of Egyptian Autumn and Frangelico, two Superfine sheep that we sold last year. I like both of these lambs pretty equally, which is a surprise given that the katmogets are generally nicer than the moorits and blacks. We’ve had a good crop of moorits this year. For comparison purposes, Pamela is a Superfine two year old ewe with a 22.9 micron SF.

Kahlua had these twin moorit ewe lambs early afternoon the same day. These lambs are out of Canterbury, and look to be super nice. Kahlua has a fantastic handling fleece and I’m hoping these two inherit that.

That'll do for now. We had quite a run on ewe lambs for a while there, but it's been mostly rams since then. At least they are good ones. You never have a 100% success rate with lambs, but we always track that pretty closely to see how we are doing with our breeding program. I figure we are on track if 80% of our lambs meet our lofty expectations. The last two years, I estimated that we were around 85%. Even the "bad" 15% were pretty darn good, to be honest. But when most of our adult flock are Superfine with fleeces that we are striving for (looking at all the fleece attributes holistically), the lambs have to be really good to force me to move out some of the adults. In our program, a keeper lamb typically means an adult has to move on to make room in the barn. That's the part of this that I don't like. Success means getting rid of ewes I want to hold onto. Of course, who am I to say that any of these lambs will be better than the 12 raptors we kept from last year or the amazing crop we had two year's ago. It's a good problem to have I guess. At least that's what I keep telling myself when I am lying awake at night fretting about it. It seems like each lamb has me labelling it as a keeper as it is born, not realizing we have 17 such keepers so far and another 12 Raptors from last year that I am really high on still. The math doesn't quite work.

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