Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten to Fourteen...

Wow - Thursday noon to Saturday noon we had 5 more Soay lambs at Woodland Creek. Each one was something different, genetically. First, on Thursday afternoon one of our "half SCLP" ewes, (A+/Aa, BB/Bb), Chinook, had a little ram. As the odds would predict, it was a dark-wild, and as our luck has been going, a ram to boot.
Woodland Creek Trout- ram  Chinook X Sequoyah

Later that same day we had a "double-first". It was the first ewe that we received from the Skylonda flock dispersal, and also the first RBST Soay that has ever lambed at Woodland Creek. Oh yeah, since the sire was Blue Mountain Express, perhaps the only self-light Soay in North America, maybe a triple-first. At any rate, since there are no self-colored RBST in North America (unless more recent AI efforts have introduced it), the lamb had to be wild pattern, and 50:50 odds for light or dark (Since the dam USA0002 Gwen has to have a copy of the recessive light phase from her dam Celcius). Alas, the RAM was/is dark phase. Cute enough, not special in our flock.
Skylonda Muskrat '10 - ram
 Friday morning, another "Black & White" ewe, Cedarbrook Nisqually, lambed. Unfortunately, ANOTHER ram... but nicely marked.
Woodland Creek Lightning '10 ram
Lightning (guess why the name!) has a nice extension of white spotting compared to this dam Nisqually, but less than his sire Yosemite. Too many B&W rams now!
The real excitement, however, was saved for Saturday. Not only did I obtain my first RBST Soay from Jen Bailey at Skylonda when she dispersed her flock, but she also graced me with many light phase Soays. So the only light-phase RBST Soay that we have at Woodland Creek, USA0002 Fiona, rather suddenly swelled up and decided to lamb.
For my viewing pleasure, she did it mid-day on a Saturday, so I got to observe (and videotape!) the entire birth.
The best part is that she gave birth to twins. Not that uncommon with Soay, but pretty rare at Woodland Creek! We have only had one successful twin live birth here in 5 years and about 65 lambings.
Given that Fiona was light phase, and the sire Blue Mountain Express was also homozygous for recessive light phase, the lambs HAD to be light phase. Since there is no evidence of self-colored in the "legacy" RBST Soay in NA, the lambs had to be wild pattern. Sure enough, they were.
Skylonda Zillah '10 - ewe and Skylonda Trillium '10 - ewe
Dam USA0002 Fiona and Sire Blue Mountain Express
Express, the sire of lambs above.
Blue Mountain Express '08 - self-light NA Soay ram

We should have a breather now for a while before the last 8 or 10 ewes lamb.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Number 9, number 9, number 9...

Our ninth lamb of this year was already up and dry by daylight this morning. One of our "black and whites", and a good outcome at that. Here is little Woodland Creek Rascal, a ram lamb out of WC Raven and WC Yosemite, both B&Ws.
Woodland Creek Rascal '10 ram
He has almost the same extent of white spotting as his lamb-mates this year, Bandit and the unborn lamb of Thumper's. Very nice result. (Although we are getting a bit overloaded with B&W rams...)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lambing update - Self-colored Light phase

We had our 6th lamb a few days ago - a "Black and White". Disappointly little white, given the parents (WC Yosemite and WC Anasazi). The ewe lamb (Ash) has only a "twink" of white (as Kate Montgomery called it).
Woodland Creek Ash '10 ewe
But today we had two more lambs-these from our line attempting to produce the very rare self-colored light phase (self-light for short) NA Soay. Given the non-existence of these in North America in previous years, I had been working toward creating some. One route to this is to breed self-dark (i.e., solid black) Soays with light-wild Soays. Given that the self-colored parent MUST contribute the recessive Aa, and the light phase parent MUST contribute a recessive Bb, the offspring MUST have at least one copy of each of these. In 2008 I did a number of these breedings, and produced 4 ewes and 2 rams of this genotype A+/Aa, BB/Bb. Of course they all look just like "regular" Soays - all dark-wild. But breedings of these genotypes have a small, but finite, probability of producing the elusive self-light.
Of course the odds are not that good. Below is a table showing the possibilities for mating two "half-SCLP" Soays.
You can see that when I bred my four "1/2 SCLP" ewes last fall to a "1/2 SCLP" ram, there was only a 1/16th, or 6% chance of a SCLP. Well, today two of those 4 ewes lambed, and for a moment I was convinced I had hit the jackpot with one. Check out Tahkenitch's ram lamb.
Tahkenitch's ram lamb '10

When I saw the uniformity of color on the legs, belly and under the tail i thought we had gotten very lucky. Closer inpection, though, revealed the telltale light spots around eyes, under chin, and inside ears. Alas, he is not self-colored. He does, of course, have white spotting as both his dam and sire (Sequoyah) do as well.
The second lamb was, as the odds would have suggested, also phenotypically a dark-wild pattern.
Molly's ram lamb '10
A nice enough lamb, but not what I was hoping for! Note that the trouble with breeding for SCLP in this manner is that the genotype of the lambs, for the great majority, will be unknown. Mostly one will get dark-wild lambs with unknown genes for the second allele at both agouti and brown locus, so they can't really be used to further the cause for SCLP. This particular breedign goal may be a hopeless endeavor given the flock size I can realisticall maintain. Given that I have (and can keep alive!) some actual SCLPs, I have a "sure" thing for next year, and very good odds with the SCLP ram as sire, so I will probably go that route.