Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Soay Lambs at Woodland Creek

While we already have some 2011 lambs already on the ground, the arrival yesterday was one of my favorites and long-time breeding goals - the "black-and-white" (B&W) Soay sheep. I have always liked white spotting on self-colored dark phase (solid black) Soays. After seeking and obtaining self-colored Soays with tiny white poll markings early in my Soay years, I have been increasing the extent of the white spotting in each succeeding generation. Here is yesterday's lamb (a ram) to Woodland Creek Raven '07, by first-time sire Woodland Creek Lightning '09 :

Woodland Creek Rowdy '10 - Raven's "Black-and-White" ram lamb

The bad thing about B&W Soays is that they are hard to photograph, especially new lambs as they are like black holes - the fresh, often wet black hair barely returns any light, and most digital cameras have algorithms that attempt to balance the overall photo to medium gray tones...but I digress. Here is the new lamb with his dam. You can see that she only has a small poll white spot (the white hair on her nose is age-white, not white spotting gene).

Raven '07 and Rowdy '11 - her B&W ram lamb

Here is the sire - you can see that he has less white than his first lamb, the ram above.

Woodland Creek Lightning '10

As for our other 2011 lambs, we did have another nice "3/4" Self-colored Light phase (SCLP) lamb. Like last year, Skylonda Imagine (a light-wild ewe) was bred to the SCLP ram Express. As before, the resulting lambs express the dominant wild pattern, but (I believe) because they also carry a copy of the self-colored gene recessive, the pattern is very "muted". That is to say, when the lambs are new and wet I almost always think they are self-colored light phase, as the wild pattern is so indistinct. Here is a photo of Imagine's 2011 ram lamb, Ish (click on photo to enlarge and see detail - note the uniformity of coloring on the top of the nose, at the chin, and on his legs).

Woodland Creek Ish '11 - Imagine X Express

I will be saving this ram lamb in reserve in case I need a fallback for producing more self-colored light phase Soays.