Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Saturday, July 11, 2009

2009 Soay sheep lambing season at Woodland Creek Farm

Wow - too much going on in the last 6 months to post to the blog!

Our 2009 lambing season here at Woodland Creek is done now. After last year's more-than-20 Soay lambs, and carrying WAY too many sheep through the winter on purchased hay, we significantly downsized the flock and intentionally did not breed quite a few of the ewes. Couple that with a couple too-immature rams that didn't get the job done, and some targeted but immature yearling ewes and we only had 7 lambs this year. But a nice set.

Our final lamb of the year, born 03-Jul-09, was a very pleasant surprise. First, the dam, Woodland Creek Sienna, was not impregnated as planned by my chosen ram (as were none of his target ewes - he's gone now.)
So I did not intend to breed her at all, but in transferring ewes she slipped by me and got in with another group of ewes already bred to a different ram (but the ram had been removed). THEN, the ram in the adjacent breeding group knocked the gate open and "merged" with the supposedly already-bred ewes. Although I didn't witness it, it is now obvious that the escaped ram had an ulterior motive... So here is the surprise. Sienna is a dark reddish-brown mouflon. She lambed while we were out of town, and we returned to the scene portrayed below.

Woodland Creek Sienna and her 2009 ewe lamb, Moenkopi
Obviously, Sienna had a light phase lamb (and happily, it's a ewe). I quickly referenced the pedigrees to see how this could have happened. The sire, Woodland Creek Chico, is light phase, so no surprise there - he HAD to contribute a Bb (light phase brown) gene. But I had no idea that Sienna was carrying a "hidden" copy of the light phase. Looking back, I note her sire was Blue Mountain Juniper. Some may know that Juniper, also dark phase, was identified as carrying one copy of the (recessive, thus "hidden", not expressed) Bb gene when he sired the sort-of-famous Red Deer, who was light phase, thus homozygous Bb/Bb, thus HAD to get a copy of Bb from Juniper. (I have owned Juniper since shortly after he sired that crop of lambs at Blue Mountain).

So the light phase lamb Moenkopi proves that Sienna received one copy of the light phase gene from Juniper (well, sort of "proves" - there is a tiniest of chance that her dam, Maddie, had a light phase gene, although from pedigrees it seems highly improbable).
The interesting thing, (interesting to me, anyway) is that the light phase that Juniper carries came from the RBST ram Triumph. Some feel that the light phase in the NA Soays came from outside the Soay breed, and is somehow "different" from the honest-to-goodness light phase from RBST Soays. Moenkopi then will have one copy of Bb from each, so it will be interesting to see if her phenotype is discernably different from my NA Soay light phase.
Our "Black and White" Soay breeding group produced 4 B&W lambs. Some may know we are trying to extend the extent of coverage of the recessive white spotting onto the solid black coat pattern of the recessive self-colored agouti. We had one very good extent of white spotting in the ram lamb Lakotah, sired by our matriarch B&W ewe Blue Mountain Thumper.

Woodland Creek Lakotah - ram. Thumper X Chilcoot.

Lakotah has a nice white cap, and a wide blaze, a nice throat "bib", and a "necklace". Very similar, but a bit more extensive, than his sister from last year, Athena (same dam and sire).

W.C. Athena-e '08, W.C. Lakotah-r '09 and dam to both B.M. Thumper '00.
We had another nice B&W ewe lamb out of W.C. Raven, a ewe out of the Teed line of Soays.
Woodland Creek Aspen-e '09. Raven X Chilcoot

We also had 2 other B&W rams, but both only had minor white spots, so not too exciting. Our best B&W ram from last year, Yosemite '08, did not mature sufficiently to sire our '09 lambs, so we used the same ram as the prior year, Chilcoot. Yosemite is finally maturing some this summer, so he appears to be in the lineup for this fall.
W.C. Yosemite-r '08. Cinnamon X Chilcoot.
We also had some lambs born into our hoped-for-but-long-odds self-colored light phase group, but no hits on the double homozygous recessive jackpot.
Enough for now.