Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Excellent Soay Lambing Results!

We have really done well in the "genetics lottery" this year. Our last post was about the self-colored light phase success. Now for our other two groups - white spotting on self-colored black ("black and whites", or B&W), and extensive white spotting ("EWS") on any pattern.
We had a very nice ram lamb from one of our B&W ewes, Harley. The photo below is Hopi, a nicely marked B&W ram.
Hopi '13 - ram. Dam Harley, sire Rowdy.
 I still really enjoy the stark contrast between deep black lamb coats and the pure whites. 

The more exciting lambing result happened recently, however. I have been studying the white spotting gene, and I have a "new" theory about underlying genetics of extensive white spotting, and that it is different from the "gradual white spotting" I have been getting so far in my B&Ws.
I purchased an EWS ram, RBST, to see how this genotype worked into the flock. Saltmarsh Alston was a good sire for this trait as he is clearly "EWS". (Note in particular that his horns are about half-white and half dark - very nicely marked!)
Saltmarsh Alston '08 Dark Wild with Extensive White Spotting
 It has taken a couple generations, but I am now convinced there is a different "EWS" genetic basis for this white spotting. Here is our most recent lamb, Orvieto:
Woodland Creek Gwyneth and her 2013 ram lamb, Orvieto.
You can see that his dam has virtually no white spotting (although she has a tiny wisp of white, suggesting that she does carry the "regular" Ss/Ss gene). Orvieto has the typical locations for extensive white spotting - head, ears, feet, tail, and irregular spots on the body. 
Woodland Creek Orvieto '13 - ram
While he is very light in his brown coat, and his sire Alston has been shown to carry the light phase recessive brown gene, I think, based upon his skin color around his eyes, that he is actually dark phase. Since there is no pigment near his horn buds, I predict that his horns will lack pigment, that is, be white or "horn colored". Time will tell!

I'll close this post with an update on the  self-colored light phase (SCLP or "chocolate") Soay lambs progress. All are growing like weeds and all are "aggressively horned". They are sure a lovely color, and to my surprise there is some variation in intensity of the brown between some of them. 
Six SCLP Soay lambs play on the compost pile.
They are a lovely color and all growing horns aggressively!
Although they are fading a bit with sun-bleaching, one ram lamb in particular has always been very dark brown.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Soay Sheep Lambing at Woodland Creek Farm

Wow - what a successful lambing year!
Our breeding goals were to 1) produce more self-colored light-phase (SCLP, or "chocolate") lambs to add to the (only) 4 that existed in North America in 2012, and 2) to extend the white on our "black and white" (B&W) line, and 3) attempt to get extensive white spotting in RBST Soay. Let's take them in order.
Self-colored Light Phase:
Blue Mountain Express, the only mature SCLP Soay ram in NA, was the sire for all ewes in this group. 
Blue Mountain Express '08
 We had two SCLP ewes (Cocoa and her '12 daughter, Ozette). Both were certain to have SCLP lambs with Express, and did, and better yet, Cocoa had twins.
Blue Mountain Cocoa '08 and '13 twin SCLP lambs Carob-r and Candi-e.

 Ozette, gave us a nice little SCLP ewe lamb, Erin.
Ozette '12 and SCLP Erin-e '13.
I really like the color of the SCLP lambs. Now that I have seen a few, there is no doubt when they are born. 
Woodland Creek Zooey-e '13.
 Now for the "second-string". There are two genetic makeups that each have a 50% chance of producing SCLP lambs with an SCLP sire. We have both: one is a light phase wild pattern ewe with hidden self (A+/Aa, Bb/Bb); the other is self-colored dark phase, recessive for light phase (Aa/Aa, BB/Bb). Since both have 3 of 4 genes for SCLP, I call them "3/4 SCLPs". 
We have 3 of the first group - light wild phenotype. EVERY ONE OF THEM gave us an SCLP lamb! 
WC Zillah gave us SCLP Zooey-e '13.
WC Indigo and SCLP Iris-e, note white poll wisp!
WC Nazca and SCLP ewe lamb
The other 2 potential ewes for SCLP - the blacks with hidden light phase, both produced dark phase lambs (that is, black) so while genetically interesting they look exactly like any other solid black Soay.. except that one does have a white wisp at his poll. 
WC Mickey and WC Minnie (twins) and '13 ewe lambs. All are genetically the same: Aa/Aa, BB/Bb, so "3/4" SCLPs

So the total tally? Six more SCLP lambs added to our flock - 4 ewes and 2 rams. Two of the ewes have a few white hairs at their poll, and one ewe has a wisp, so white spotting is also definitely present in this group. Here is a group photo of all 5 dams and their 6 lambs.
Two SCLP Ewes with 3 SCLP lambs, and 3 light-wild hidden self ewes with 3 SCLP lambs.
   Enough for now - I'll cover our other breeding group results in a separate post.