Breeding Lines -Sheep

While this is on sheep, the truth is knowing, understanding and running female breeding lines applies to all your breed programs, everyone is always so worried about the males..

I hear it all the time.. the stud gives 50% of the genes, that is true but most new folks and even a lot of longer term folks, also change their males every year or every two or three at a max, and so that he gave 50 percent only matters in two ways..

A) did he create a issue, was something breed in that was a issue for this years lamb crop.

B) if you held something back.. if you do not like what that ram produced, its a very easy and simple answer.. make him a terminal Sire.. butcher the offspring.. and wow.. that male that everyone thinks controlled 50%.. now has O effect on the long term genes of your flock.

Now your females, that is a different matter, while they are more limited in how many babies they will produce for homestead or small flocks owners, they are the very backbone of your breeding plans.

For myself, at this time in the flock in 2016, I have Butterscotch line, Mocha Line, Stomp’s Line, and I have added in two new lines, Ice and Tess.

My Butterscotch line is over done, I need to go hard line on her line, no keep backs for three years, remove the least productive ewes from it, I need to add one more ewe from the Mocha line but I have time to make sure its a great female ewe to do so..

Below a great set of week old twin ewes, one showing my standard hair sheep color and one in white with freckled spots.

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I have only one ewe left on the stomp line but I have been blessed with a set of twin ewes from her Granddaughter this year, and so I will keep back at least one of them to increase that line in the flock.

Ice was a new line added, she is a pure wool sheep and so her ewe born this year will if all works out in growth and so forth, will be a hold back to start that line in the flock, I am quite excited as it appears so far that the wee one is a polled female and she is mainly black with a bit of white trim, so that will give me Ice with a full white wool shearing and a ewe with mainly black wool to harvest. She is on the right in the photo, they are just two days old.

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Tess was added in this year, she is carrying from a unrelated male, and so any females she has will be looked at, and in truth, if she has a really nice male, it is possible, I will keep him back and cross him out to my mocha and Stomp line for a single year of lambs, as it will let me create a lamb crop of pure hair to keep back from. Tess is a outstanding example of a hair sheep.

So in total, I have five female lines, and my new ram Whiskey is unrelated to any of the current females, but that will not hold for long, soon enough, in some cases, he will be both a breeder and a terminal sire when breed to his own daughters and granddaughters at some point.

I do not replace my males as often as others, as most years all my lambs are set for butcher, this does not bother me at all. having said that, this is my second year of whiskey lambs and they are outstanding, I could not be more pleased with how they nick with my girls..

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Look at this huge two week old Butterscotch-Whiskey polled ram lamb.. outstanding! I used hubby as a way for you to see the size difference.

To me, three breeding lines is pretty close to being the min, I would want to work with, but for a smaller flock, five is as much as I would want to do. It takes time and effort to learn each line.

As a homesteader, do you rule female lines?  how many do you work with? Do you change males every year?

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