A couple friends and I trimmed the sheeps’ hooves yesterday and seized the opportunity to check on fleeces and take some new photos. I was especially interested to see the prelimiary effects of coating the 2014 ewe lambs. We tried to have a yardstick in the photo frame to show the girls’ height at shoulder level, but the depth of field wasn’t adequate for that to be in focus. As a substitute, I will note the size of their current coat which is the lenth in inches from neck to top of the tail. Since I will be marketing their fleeces and also most of this year’s lamb crop, I will include some commentary on their genetics and fleece characteristics along with their photos.
Olivia, daughter of Claire. Like Nina, her half sister, she appears to have a longer than average staple. I was getting caught up on skirting yesterday and was excited at the percentage of her mother’s fleece from 2013 that was longer than the 2″ minimum required by my processor, Chris Armbrust at Dakota Fiber Mill. Claire’s 2014 fleece wasn’t quite as outstanding, which reminds me to take data every year. My guidebook indicates staple length as a yearling has an average heritability of 47%, with a range of 17 to 60%. Olivia is now wearing a size 31″ coat.
Penny, daughter of Fergie. I was surprized at the lightness of Penny’s surface coloration in spite of the coat. It’s still hard for me to guess the color of the wool once the exterior, interior and middle get blended in the rovings. From her surface color I’d call her Milk Chocolate! She’s on the verge of outgrowing her 29″ coat.
Rhonda, daughter of Hattie. Rhonda has not had a coat on so far, so has acted as a “control” for the other coated black ewes. Her fleece does not appear to be especially dirty and the color on the surface of her fleece has not faded much at all compared to Penny, but has faded compared to Rachel or Tammy. Her mother, Hattie, carries the fading gene so the color of the fiber next to the skin may also be light. Hopefully the next set of photos will document that. We did coat her as of Monday (January 19) with a 29″ coat. By the way… I did change my mind and register her. She is the only black ewe yearling with a clear face (like her mother).
Sara, daughter of Iris. The cleanliness of her fleece under the coat was the most striking. She’s had one on since September 6th. Her current coat size is 27″. Although her mother, Iris, is the oldest ewe in the flock, her fleece is one of the softest – bucking the trend for greater micron count (fiber diameter) with age. According to my reference (Kruesi’s The Sheep Raiser’s Manual), “fleece grade” has only an average heritability of 35%, BUT I’m hoping there will be some effect. This coming season, I plan to have the wool of some of the sheep tested for micron count.
Tammy, daughter of Katie. Tammy’s fleece under the coat has stayed dark and the coloration of her head wool has also stayed dark to the roots. I get to give her scratches each day, so I know these things. However, in dogs the head color can age differently from the rest of the coat, so stay tuned for the next set of photos. Tammy is still wearing a 27″ coat.