image I graphed the growth rates of all my lambs, from birth weight to 60 and 120 day weights. I think this is a useful way of comparing them visually. I compared them by sex: ewe, wether and rams; because each group has a different expected growth rate.

The weights I use are “double” adjusted. First, adjusted to account for the fact that I didn’t weigh them exactly on their 60 or 120 day birthdays. And then adjusted again using Katahdin data that accounts for dam age, and birth type (single, twin, or triplet) and how many lambs the dam raised.

image I used this adjustment both on the 60 and 120 day weight, even though for the 120 day weight, all of the rams were weaned and thus no longer benefitting from their dams’ milk (the ewelambs still are). I pondered whether it’s valid to keep using the dam adjustments, because the dam’s influence over the growth of the lamb obviously diminishes once he’s no longer nursing, or even in late-nursing lambs who aren’t being allowed much milk. But the impact is still there, because the start a lamb gets in life, and how big he is at weaning, will influence how well he continues to grow after weaning. I’m guessing that there is still a need to adjust for dam influence in this age bracket, but that the influence factors are probably different numbers than the 60 day numbers. And I don’t have access to those. So, I’ve cheated and just continued to use the 60 day adjustment factors, which I think are more fair than using unadjusted numbers.

imageWhat I’m curious about is their growth trajectories. As can be seen, most of them cluster close together in a middle-of-the-pack group. The ones I think need attention are what Lean Six Sigma improvement often calls “BoBs and WoWs” – the Best of the Best, and the Worst of the Worst. In all the graphs, there are a couple of lambs that stand out as above-average, and one that’s lagging behind the rest of the group.

I would venture to say that picking replacement breeding animals out of the BoBs, and culling any of the WoWs will have a positive impact on herd genetics over time. And studying what breeding combinations are generating BoBs and WoWs is useful.

0023 Here are my BoBs from this year: 

  • #0023 pinto ewe- out of Jody Ouradnik’s ewe JPS60224 and old Hershey (BLM417: Bert Martineau flock). This one was no surprise, she’s been a leader from the start, as is her twin brother.
  • #0021 dark brown ewe- out of Aileen Scott’s ewe ADS0061 and Hershey. This one did surprise me, as I was disappointed with all of the other lambs I got out of the Montana ewes.
  • #0024 ram- twin brother of above #23
  • #0002, 0003, 0004- triplet rams out of Jessica Howard’s JJK010 and Hershey
  • #0017 wether – out of my #904. This triangulates to Hershey, JJK010 and KRK (Karen Kenagy) stock on both the sire and dam side.

Here are my WoWs:

  • #0008- panda colored ewelamb out of ADS0065 (Skinny) and Hershey. She is a tall, nice looking lamb, but is quite lean, and obviously shares her mother’s body’s dislike of our grass for growing!
  • #0005-dark chocolate colored ram lamb out of ADS0038 and Hershey. He is also very leggy, but is deer-like and wan.
  • #0027, the poor orphan-reared Kitchen Lamb, who obviously got behind from his time in the kitchen. Boys

The above picture is a great illustration of BoBs and WoWs standing next to each other. In the foreground is cute and frail little Kitchen Lamb. Behind him to the left is #0024, my best ram, which I’m keeping. The white one in the middle is one of Kitchen Lamb’s two brothers; as you can see, they grew normally given their dam-raised start. The differences in frame size are pretty drastic!  😀

So, my cross of the Montana ewes ended up with  double-bomb and a BoB. I don’t know what to make of that, other than just the random throw of the dice when you outcross. But JJK010 bubbles up four times in this, as does the KRK genetics. I’m going to repeat those good breedings, and pair the Montana ewes with KRK stuff this fall, and see what happens next year! Breeding time is almost here!