Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Working w/Polled Genetics-Lambs 2008 Update

In 2008 all the lambs born were sired by my polled, black gulmoget ram Jedidiah. As a very new breeder to Shetlands, I am still learning A LOT about colors, wool texture, and genetics in general. And this year adding that polled genetics into the mix, I was not sure what to expect. Don't get me wrong because I truly want those polled genetics, the horns are beautiful but so are my fences and I would like to leave them like that. God Rest Yankee's soul but his head/horns have left lasting impressions on my fence lines. I am sure Samuel, my moorit/smirslet ram with beautiful horns will pick up where Yankee left off.
Back to those polled genetics. I truly got a mixed variety of horns in my ram lambs.

Above, pictured on the left is Jasper, a smooth-polled ram with a very soft, wonderful fleece. I originally wanted to sell him as he was "just black and ordinary" but he is turning out to have a great personality, he has a nice broad forehead, and a great tail. His mother is a twin kat ewe out of Yankee, a mioget ram. I am thinking he may be a nice one to use this Fall.
Pictured next to Jasper is Josiah......what a splash of color!!! His horns, or shall I call them scurs, are just a tad on the "different" side.

They are growing away from his head which is good in my opinion. He is also a grandson to Yankee. His facial structure is totally different to Jasper's, not as broad and "muscular" in presence.....I have not decided whether this is good or bad? Any opinions on that? Josiah, for being on the smaller scale, still insists that hand butting is a preferred greeting.

Pictured above is Jericho. He is a wether now and therefore his scurs have been of no issue. He actually lost a 3 inch scur 2 weeks ago. He is very slow to come around in warming up to me. I have him with all the ewes and Cotswolds. I really like this picture of him:)

And now to my dilemma with using polled genetics. Pictured on the right is Jammer. Jammer is the one who lost that scur/horn in the summer. But now those scurs appear to becoming in as true horns, they are not loose at the base. The serious problem is how they are growing. The horn on the right side of his face (your left if looking at him in this pic) will eventually grow right into the back of his head right around the neckline.

Of all the lambs born in 2008, it would figure that Jammer is the one with the best, warmest personality. The one my niece and nephew love and hug all over. Everyone wants to touch him because his fleece is SO SOFT!! He is everything I would want in a ram, color, yuglet markings, wool, personality.........but these scurs/horns!!!!!!!! Crap.

My Jammie is scheduled on the 15th to go to the vet. to be wethered. Unless the vet thinks the horns can be trimmed. I don't know. Juliann, if your reading what do you think? Anyone working with polled genetics, I would greatly appreicate some advice. I know wethering him will stop the horns from growing. Oh, heck I really wanted to use him as a ram next year.
My Jammie is in a jam right now :(


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

It surely is tough, Kristi. I plan on using Braveheart, with his little bone knobs, until I get what appears to be a clean-polled ram lamb to replace him with. If I had a clean-polled ram (or more!) like you do, I don't think I'd use a scurred guy - especially a guy with big, problematic scurs. But since I'm NOT in your shoes, I really don't know for sure what I'd do! Big help, huh?

Kara said...

Oh Kristi I hear you and I thought if I went "polled" it would prevent the trouble I ram into with Cooper. I really need a polled genetics 101. Jammer is a beauty, I hope things work out for him.

Juliann said...

Hi Kristi,

The poll gene does introduce scurring into bloodlines, but it is unfair to blame it for "fatal horns/scurs".
Even if you had continued to breed for horned rams, you would occasionally have fatal horns to deal with, so no matter what, you would have some difficult decisions to make. Every breeder does!
Personally, I'd would cull Jammer to market. If left intact, those scurs are going to be a headache to manage all summer, and they will continue to grow even if they are trimmed now. If he is wethered, they may still continue to grow a bit, and will have to be monitored closely.
Regarding the yearing ram's head, Shetlands aren't mature until they are two years old, so they go through a lot of changes those first two years. Their heads get larger and thicker as they grow.

Angela Rountree said...

Hi, Kristi,
You didn't ask for my opinion on this, but I am giving it anyway:I think you should be very careful in your interactions with your rams and ram lambs, especially with small children, as even the nicest ram can give you as nasty surprise. (I had one of our pets hit me right in the stomach last year!) Also, I recommend "Tough love for rams" http://www.stonehavenfarm.com/love.html

Donna said...

Personally I would wether Jammie and trim his horns 1-2 times per year. I also agree with Angela's comments about tough love.

Kara said...

I agree with Angela. I read tough love for rams early on and was glad. Cooper although he liked chin scratches, was never allowed to but AT ALL. As a young lamb I'd push his body away and say no and refuse to give him more attention. When he got older he got flipped once or twice, as did Kermit, and Bahama. Cooper and Kermit wore me down with their friendly personalities and I was guilty of scratching their chins on occasion. Bahama keeps a respectful distance, which is good, and I plan to keep it that way this time. I got hit the other day by my Cheviot (she was going for the dog and got us both)and I never want to be hit by a ram with or without horns, my back still hurts!

kristi said...

Perhaps there was some confusion on the wording of my blog. My niece and nephew by no stretch of the imagination, allowed in with the rams....actually they could not even open the gate. They pet them only through the fence; and that is only allowed with the polled/scurred guys. The only ones allowed in with my rams are myself & my FWB. I have taken one too many hits by my horned rams and I totally respected and understand their place on the farm. I don't baby the boys. Do I hug TJ my Cotswold ram? You bet I do. Would I hug Samuel my horned Shetland? Nope. Perhaps because I did have a few run-ins with Yankee, my horned ram, I learned quickly. And in all honesty, that is why I switched to wanting polled Shetlands. Are they bomb proof for safety? Nope. Jed. got my butt once last year during breeding season. But their personalities, in opinion, are 100% better than horned. I will never buy a horned ram again. And if by chance through breeding, full horned ram is born, he needs to go. After reading what I wrote and Juliann's input and Michelle's, breeding Jammer probably would not have been a good choice. But I will breed Jasper, the smooth polled. Jasper I still am up in the air. I really need to think this polled thing out more when planning breedings. I bred last year going in without a whole lot of background knowledge.

Angela and Donna....thank you for your input...believe me when I say I have done some serious tough love with the boys.

I always enjoy hearing from you. It is a learning process in the making isn't it?:)