pedigreesI got a batch of registrations back from the new Katahdin sheep registrar yesterday. I had heard from others that theirs contained a lot of errors, so I went through mine with a fine toothed comb. And yeah, a lot of errors in mine too. Twelve errors in twenty pedigrees. I  have little sticky flags on all of them, to keep track.

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BuckskinYesterday I trimmed sheep hooves. I love working outside and getting dirty- so dirty then when you shower afterwards, the water runs with mud even before you get out the soap. It was sunny and hot. I sunburned a bit, staying out longer than I had planned with no sunscreen on. We’ve had so little sun this summer that sunscreen isn’t yet back in my morning habit!

Halfway through, a neighbor stopped by and we chatted for a while. Maggie, who was already hot from working, disappeared into a drainage ditch to cool herself, waiting like an alligator until I needed her again. Just as soon as I walked back to the ewes still waiting in a pen for their maintenance, she came sloshing out and pushed them into the corner for me again. I couldn’t do without her!

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33Daughter I haven’t said much about the lamb crop lately, so I thought I’d take some pictures showing how they are growing. It’s amazing how quickly they go from cute to almost grown up. The lambs are nearly four months old, some of them will be ready for butcher in sixty more days! Above is KMC0905 with her single ewelamb out of KMC0900.

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Triplets

HHS107 and triplets ranked 11, 12, 13th

As I mentioned, I just finished doing my sixty day weaning weights on all the lambs, and then performing the adjustment calculations. And not surprisingly, I was surprised by the results. 🙂

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TripletBoys

Kitchen Lamb is now fully integrated with the sheep flock and also weaned. It was all easier than I thought it might be. In the picture above, you can see him next to the other set of triplet-born ram lambs, and they are quite a bit bigger than he is! Granted they are 2.5 weeks older, but the size difference is compounded by his small birth weight and the poorer growth characteristics of milk replacer. He is by far the littlest guy in the herd.

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33Triplets I’ve read about this in a couple of places, interesting news about developments in artificial insemination (AI) for sheep. Historically, AI has been in limited practice with sheep, because it’s more technically complicated than for cows and pigs. My understanding is that the few people who do AI on sheep do it laparoscopically, which is expensive and not something laymen can do. (I think one local lady told me she pays a guy $200/ewe to travel up from Oregon to perform the services on her small flock.)  This unfortunately really limits our ability to improve the gene pool, as we cannot access sires from very far away without significant expense. So the hope that frozen semen and simplified techniques may make it possible is exciting indeed!

This second article cites that researchers have found that milk production and fertility have an inverse genetic relationship in Holstein dairy cows. Doh! This is why it’s important to monitor all important/desirable traits in a breeding program, and not get overly fixated on one particular productivity metric. As Katahdin sheep breeders embrace the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), keeping our eyes on pounds-per-ewe-weaned and parasite resistance, we have to keep in mind that breeding goals are broader than these two things! There are still other key quality factors to consider, like mothering instinct, climate hardiness, temperament, conformation, and shedding qualities.

And speaking of the NSIP, I read that plans are going forward for the program to move to being administered by LAMBPLAN. My understanding is that historically, the NSIP was developed and administered by Dr. Dave Notter and his graduate students at Virginia Polytech. But the program has gotten larger than is feasible for them to keep maintaining as essentially a “side job”, so the time has come to move it into the commercial space. The promise is that turnaround times for receiving your data will be very quick, whereas recently, it’s been taking several months. That was too long to be helpful in making breeding and cull decisions, so this new program should be more useful to breeders. I’m anxious to learn what the cost will be, though, especially for U.S. customers, since LAMBPLAN is based in NSW, Australia. News is supposed to be forthcoming.

LambBucket So first, kitchen lamb is back in the kitchen as of last Sunday night. His mother decided she didn’t want him and stopped letting him nurse. Grr. She was such an excellent mother to triplets last year, and has six year’s experience; so she’s the last one I would expect to reject a lamb. Maybe it was too confusing with the jacket, then no jacket, and him being in and out of the house and licked all over by dogs. Or, maybe she’s just being a bad mother. I’ll give her another year here since she’s a productive ewe. But her score with me has dropped considerably!

Luckily for kitchen lamb, he seems to have weathered the flaky three days of inconsistent feedings, is gaining weight now, and apparently is no worse for wear.

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