I spotted an interesting bit of data on two sibling rams that made me pause for a moment. Usually, when rams are born, they simply inherit an average of the NSIP maternal traits coming from their parents. So their scores will be identical here, and won’t typically change until those rams have female progeny, which are subsequently bred, feeding data back up the pedigree to their sires. Where the rams will differ distinctly is on weight data, once it’s collected on them, and averaged with the scores coming out of their pedigree history. But a quick glance at these twins highlights something notable in their data at four months of age:


























I haven’t blogged in ages, which just means my priority list has been really full. It has been a busy summer and fall. We managed to squeeze in a few long weekend camping trips, and also went on an Alaska cruise. We closed on the purchase of the property next door, which was a culmination of nearly a year of research, negotiation, and USDA loan paperwork. In between other life to-do’s, I  try to do one major “sheep chore” a weekend, be it vaccinations, blood tests, weighing, or de-worming. I’ve been working on extending AC-powered hotwire over various parts of the property, so I can achieve a higher voltage on my portable fencing. That is going well, and is proving to keep the sheep in much better than the portable solar units I had. I bought a new laptop, so have been spending time doing all that transfer stuff that seems to take ages. Then, somehow blogging just falls off the bottom of the list. But today I managed to fit it in!


We still have good green grass, but not for much longer with this string of no rain we’ve had. It’s unusual for it to get hot and sunny consistently before 4th of July here; but the entire month of June has felt like August! There is a possible thundershower in the forecast for next week, so crossing my fingers the pasture gets some watering. It sounds like our hay will be delivered next week, which will be a welcome backup: I can feed out of that store if I have to rest the pastures for a while. The pasture pictured above is mostly reed canarygrass. Though it is often an unmanageable pain in the butt, it is a great grower during dry times, since it has such deep roots. It will likely tap the water table no matter how long we go without rain, so it can continue to grow back after being grazed. It produces a huge volume of very nutritious grass, as well.


Weekend before last, I attended the Katahdin registry’s annual “Expo”- this one held in Hastings, NE. I enjoyed it, and when I catch my breath, I’ll try to post some notes I took in the great seminars there.

The highlight for me, however, was getting a chance to bid on some breeding stock with high NSIP numbers at their sale. There aren’t many people local to me who are serious about using NSIP for selection, so I don’t have a lot of access to high-scoring animals or common sires which help cross-reference and normalize data between flocks. Through the kindness of friends, I was able to “hitch hike” my sheep back through two legs: to a friend’s house in Montana, and then a fellow Washingtonian traveling there to pick up a ram took my sheep back home with him.


I am really pleased with my progress in improving my flock genetics using National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) data. I don’t think there is any way I could have made such fast gains by just picking sheep based on visual appraisal, or trying to sort through hundreds of data points in past records. (And, in fact, there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.)

The things I’ve been focusing on the most are lamb growth and maternal milk (maternal weaning weight, or MWWT). My growth numbers are starting to chase the system average, which is pretty cool, because a lot of people in the system feed grain to their lambs in the first 120 days, and I don’t.