Plus a little primer on my line-breeding and conservation breeding plans
Can you feel the excitement building? I sure can! I expect 2023 Spring lambs to start coming on the last day of February and throughout the first 3 weeks or so of March. We should see about 42 little lambs jumping around very soon!
I will enroll in NSIP again this year and measure performance based on adjusted weaning weight, fecal egg count, and the hair index EBV’s. At least ten adult ewes and all adult rams will have blood draws for biosecurity testing in May or June to ensure the flock is still clear of Johne’s Disease, Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), and Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP).
My policy is to vaccinate all lambs for clostridium and tetanus at approximately 60 and 90 days, and all adults annually. I apologize to those who oppose vaccines, but I will make no exceptions. I cannot risk lambs possibly developing tetanus after a simple scrape in the barn or on a fence. I will also vaccinate all adults for foot rot in April and again next year to prevent another outbreak.
Watch for my email, Facebook message, text, or phone call because I will start contacting everyone on the waitlist in late March or early April to confirm reservations and accept deposits. I hope everyone understands that I must raise our prices due to the increased cost of inputs. This year’s prices will appear in the newsletter, which will come out in February. I would like all customers to pick up their weaned lambs in mid- to late-July.
The Breeding Clans
As you can see, I’ve color-coded my sheep clans. Summit Farms sheep are red. Those in green are Green Pastures/Stauber Farm. The orange-shaded ewes are line-bred Bennett sheep from Shephards Bluff, but all carry some degree of Stauber. The group shaded in purples are direct descendants of Joyous or Grace from White Dog Farm. Yellow sheep are line-bred descendants of Noah, from Grace & Joy Farm. Noah also carries old Bennett bloodlines.
This is where it gets a little confusing. The first-generation purple-shaded ewes (GH 0001, 0003, 0004, and 0081) are also daughters of Noah, but they remain grouped with their mothers. Only line-bred sheep that carry two copies of their sire’s line switch to the color of the sire’s clan.
Line Breeding and Clan/Spiral Breeding Plans
I’m sure you have noticed that several ewes mated with their father, grandfather, or another related ram. I have done this purposefully, and it certainly comes with some risk. Line breeding and inbreeding accentuate both the good traits and the bad ones. Thank goodness we can eat our mistakes in this business!
By 2025, I hope to have at least four well-established, distinct clans with approximately the same number of sheep in each. From then on, I intend to use a clan/spiral breeding program in a closed flock, as described in Managing Breeds for a Secure Future. For the next two years, I will be working to build those clans through careful line breeding, outcrossing, and most importantly, selection.
The 2023 spring lambs concentrate the genetics of Bennett/GJF and White Dog Farm bloodlines. Assuming I get some good-performing ram and ewe lambs, this process will help keep those lines alive and working on my farm. Those individuals will have relatively high coefficients of inbreeding (12.5-25%). However, I and others can use them as outcrosses for unrelated line-bred sheep. Often, this approach generates offspring that enjoy the benefits of hybrid vigor.
Jasper covered a group of ewes that are all unrelated to him except for Lillian (outcrossing). All those ewes are also unrelated to those in Noah’s and JackOak’s groups. By grouping them this way, I can still offer some starter flocks with unrelated rams.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the 2023 Spring lambs or the breeding program.