Thursday, April 29, 2010

New stud on the block

After much discussion over whether to breed lambs this year (I wanted to, SO didn't) we came to a compromise. We'd breed - or try to - a limited number of coloured lambs. Of course, some of them may be white, but they'd carry coloured genes to breed back to next year. To that end we needed a ram. Rather, the ewes needed a ram.

We bought a ram today, a big move since actually buying a ram instead of hiring our shearer's rams means we are admitting to seriously getting involved with sheep-breeding. Sort of. If being serious means mixing up your breeds completely.

We got this lad from the Lower North - flat wheat, sheep and barley country. Very different to our land but he'll adapt. Actually he's not really a lad, being a bit long in all his teeth and a cull from the 1300 acre sheep farm where he'd been working. Coloured rams probably abound in the Adelaide Hills, but we couldn't find any. Commercial wool properties usually cull anyone with a bit of colour due to no coloured fibres allowed in the wool clip. Our shearer, the invaluable John, put us onto a lovely brother and sister team who breed coloured sheep exclusively.

His wrinkly nose is because he is a Merino. This should help to make our subsequent fleeces finer. The Merino breed, not the wrinkly nose. Apart from him we don't have any pure Merinos (but since when, despite our best intentions, did we stick to one breed in any animal?) He is a dark grey now, but is genetically black. He looks like a bison with the extra Merino folds of shoulder skin, and he looks like he's wearing spats so we called him Wilberforce.

He's in the home paddock as it's the flattest area we've got. He's getting to know the select ten ewes who will hopefully have his children.