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.