Monday, May 28, 2007


OK, I have never shyed away from touchy subjects.
We have been having a good discussion about polled genetics on rams and the ewes that also carry that trait.
The polled rams have been few and far between since shetland rams came to North America. They are legit....they even win prizes....they are still rams.

One of the things I worry about with the emphasis on polled rams is that folks who would not be breeding sheep are now getting polled rams with the belief that polled rams cannot hurt. That is totally false. A ram is a ram....polled rams are no better than a regular horned ram....if you send your toddler to look at a polled ram thru the fence....they are still in danger of having a head injury...just as they are with a horned ram. But folks will not be as careful of their polled rams as they are with their horned rams.

The second myth being offered is that polled rams will eliminate the need to cull bad horns. Now yes....polled is OK....but scurred is occurring with these polled genetics...we are producing half polled and half horned....what will the result be when lots of ewes carrying half polled genes get out in the general population? Maybe...lots of them are already out there....! Will horned shetlands become rare? I will say GOOD horned shetlands are rare already.
Folk are selling lots of shetlands as good horned sheep....just because their horns are not going into their jaw....that's not good horns....get a ram with horns far away from their head. By the time some of these award winning giant shetlands are three, those horns will be so round that they are pressing on the face and the shearer won't be able to get his blades under them.
Horns are a reason to cull....but no one culls their horns from a flock of close-horned ewes are still going to add questionable horns to your flock rams.
I even saw a post that someone wasn't breeding because they couldn't find a good ram....well....that sounds like a good excuse....but I'll bet there is some other reason, maybe they got stung, maybe they don't have an idea of what to breed, maybe they can't sell lambs.....You don't really need to breed your ewes every year....,my breeder friend has always just picked a half dozen to breed....she likes her sheep. No need to reproduce everything over and over again....sell wool. Your sheep can still pay for themselves.

There are trends in this farming business. Spots, spots on katmogets..., gulmogets, spots on gulmogets, polled.
If you check back, the gulmogets came combined with polled....thus the push to grow now polled katmogets and gulmogets are common....big horns on these two are not common...because the shorter pattern of katmogets and gulmogets have teacup...or round horn bases. Since katmogets and gulmogets come with shorter crimpy fleeces....shorter crimpy fleeces are now the rage....goes with the territory. I spin in the grease....I prefer a longer draft to my fleeces. We have always had differences in our sheep. That's why we like them....I just try not to go over board on one type, I even got one of those new-fangled katmogets.

Except spots....I like spots....I want to breed more interesting spots....I am still finding girls porducing spots I have never had before. So I'll go head over heels in the spot department and you can cloose what you like to breed. If you like to breed polled rams....that's great....just make sure we don't have lots of half polled ewes out there without knowing who they are....and teach those people who will only have an animal on their place that doesn't have horns....that polled rams can hit them too...and they had better not make a pet out of them.
Now I am going out and pet my ewes.


At 6:55 PM, Blogger Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Hmm, I said I wouldn't breed if I couldn't find a good ram. You yourself said a good horned ram is rare, so you've affirmed my own perceived difficulty in finding a good one! I think it would be that much harder to find a good polled ram, since right now there are no confirmed full-polls out there, just half-polls who can still pass on a horned gene, good or bad. And I am fully aware that a ram without horns can pose a formidable threat; still, battering rams made out of wood are far less damaging than battering rams made out of iron, if you catch my drift. :-)

I hope some discussion on horns and the time it takes to evaluate them properly will benefit our breed, and encourage people to wait to breed their stock until both horns AND fleece are proven. Personally, I think lamb classes should be eliminated and only mature stock should be shown; after all, if a three-year-old's fleece (and horns, if applicable) is stellar, then you know you have something worth recognizing!

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Juliann said...

Hey Peeps, I have to comment on a few things, as usual when polled genetics are being discussed. First, no polled shetland breeder that I know of is "offering myths" in marketing these sheep. There arn't very many of us out there, but those that I know of are on the same page as me.
NOBODY is saying that a polled ram will not charge you, and you will experience discomfort if you are struck. If somebody is spreading that rumor, I'd like to know who it is. There are a lot of people out there making pets out of horned rams, too. They will learn the hard way.
Yes, scurs occur with half-polls. There is absolutely nothing wrong with scurs. At LEAST I know right off the bat that a ram is scurred, I don't have to wait two years to see if I'll have fatal horns or not with a horned ram. Some scurs are admittedly not attractive. But our GOAL is not to breed attractive scurs. We are looking at eliminating scurs altogether. I have scurred rams that have produced smooth polled ram lambs. These scurred rams are valuable and should not be discarded simply because they are scurred. This is like saying that a smirlset should never be used in a spotted breeding program. Makes about as much sense.
I am sorry that you bought a ewe from someone that carries polled, and now you have a carrier. That isn't the fault of a polled breeder. You bought from a horned breeder who was unaware that she had the polled gene in her flock. We polled breeders are EDUCATING people on what to look for, and education is always a good thing.
Poll carrier ewes have been here for the last 25 years. With all the lousy horn genetics already in the NA flocks, getting a few scurs is the least of the shetland breeder's problems. I'm working very hard to identify poll carrier ewes, and of course I always explain to potential buyers what they are buying. The only people NOT doing this are those who are IGNORANT of polled genetics, and are too lazy to educate themselves on the topic.
There is NO PUSH to grow polled. I've actually had little interest. This is MY baby, I will continue with this if they sell or not. If people are interested and want to help me conserve them, great! If not, that's okay too. I will do just fine either way.
Polled katmogets and gulmogets are common? WHERE? I'd like more of them!


Post a Comment

<< Home