A NEW DIRECTION FOR THE OLD RAM

Legamin

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I feed an all purpose pellet and it has copper in it.


I fed it to the horses, then feeder pigs, then chickens and finally sheep. Now I buy just one feed for all.

The black haired sheep needed the copper!
Do you think it is the color of the wool that requires a dose of copper? I have a white faced breed but about one in 500 pops out black or blue..the blue being so rare as to make them worth their weight in….well…not quite gold…aluminum maybe. But I only could find one and I can tell you they are dear. My question would be whether the increase in color creates a copper requirement? Or it this just a black faced sheep thing?
 

Baymule

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I think much of the lamb from Australia and New Zealand is Merino. Bred for high production fine wool, probably has lots of lanolin, which, to me at least, puts a “taste” to the meat. Hair sheep have very little lanolin and the meat has a lighter taste. That’s just my thoughts, I could be totally wrong.
 

Baymule

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Do you think it is the color of the wool that requires a dose of copper? I have a white faced breed but about one in 500 pops out black or blue..the blue being so rare as to make them worth their weight in….well…not quite gold…aluminum maybe. But I only could find one and I can tell you they are dear. My question would be whether the increase in color creates a copper requirement? Or it this just a black faced sheep thing?
Good questions, but I don’t have an answer as to why. I have read to provide Dolomite lime to sheep. Mine love it. In case of too much copper, the Dolomite will negate the effects. The sheep will regulate themselves on mineral.
 

Bruce

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worth their weight in….well…not quite gold…aluminum maybe.
After doing a LOT of careful sorting out the aluminum from the rest of the metal AND pulling the aluminum fin off baseboard copper pipe, I found that used aluminum isn't worth much of anything. Certainly not worth the trouble sorting it out. Definitely worth pulling off the copper pipe because it was then "clean" and worth a lot more than if the aluminum was still on it.

There can't be much copper in my soil/coming into the grasses or the alpacas would be in sad shape, they are copper intolerant. Not supposed to feed supplements with any amount of copper.
 

Ridgetop

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In goats, the lack of sufficient copper showed up first in color fading. However, color fading can also be due to other things, i.e. sun bleaching, lack of nutrition, etc.

Since you are interested in whether copper can determine color variety and depth of same, you need to do a wool analysis in your sheep.

You also need to research color genetics in your chosen breed. Remember that for over 1000 years white sheep have been preferred since the wool could then be died. In the "olden days" one black sheep was left in with100 sheep as a way to do a fast count. Colored wool was discounted in price since its commercial use was lowered. It is only since the advent of a niche market in hand spinning that naturally colored wool has gained popularity.

As to color genetics, the blue, lilac, and spotted varieties are all genetically controlled. The "blue" color is actually a diluted black gene, with a restriction on the red gene. In faded black animals this is seen as a rusty shade in the back coat. This rusty shadig of the back coat in dairy goats was the first indication of copper deficiency. The blue gene not inky dilutes the black gene but stops any red gene from appearing. If you want to breed "blue" wool, you will need to keep black wooled breeding individuals in the gene pool. Breeding blue to blue may work for a generation or two if the blue genetic variation is recessive, but you will have to add the black color gene back in to maintain the blue color saturation. Without adding the black genetics back in you will eventually lose your blue coloring. Another problem is that the blue and black genetics will be so limited breeding solely for color in a very tight gene pool will produce many other genetic flaws.

Here are some things to consider:
Is the blue and black wool as good quality as the white wooled individuals?
Are the blue and black individuals the same conformation quality as your prize winners?
Since you have a registered flock can you register blue and black individuals?
Are you breeding for quality or color?
Can you afford to keep a small flock purely for color experimentation?

If you decide to breed to try to produce blue and black sheep in your breed, yu need to do some studies on genetics. Then have fun!
 

Ridgetop

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Since all soil has a certain amount of copper and other metals in it, the copper produced in forage and hay is different than the copper fed as a supplement.
 

Legamin

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In goats, the lack of sufficient copper showed up first in color fading. However, color fading can also be due to other things, i.e. sun bleaching, lack of nutrition, etc.

Since you are interested in whether copper can determine color variety and depth of same, you need to do a wool analysis in your sheep.

You also need to research color genetics in your chosen breed. Remember that for over 1000 years white sheep have been preferred since the wool could then be died. In the "olden days" one black sheep was left in with100 sheep as a way to do a fast count. Colored wool was discounted in price since its commercial use was lowered. It is only since the advent of a niche market in hand spinning that naturally colored wool has gained popularity.

As to color genetics, the blue, lilac, and spotted varieties are all genetically controlled. The "blue" color is actually a diluted black gene, with a restriction on the red gene. In faded black animals this is seen as a rusty shade in the back coat. This rusty shadig of the back coat in dairy goats was the first indication of copper deficiency. The blue gene not inky dilutes the black gene but stops any red gene from appearing. If you want to breed "blue" wool, you will need to keep black wooled breeding individuals in the gene pool. Breeding blue to blue may work for a generation or two if the blue genetic variation is recessive, but you will have to add the black color gene back in to maintain the blue color saturation. Without adding the black genetics back in you will eventually lose your blue coloring. Another problem is that the blue and black genetics will be so limited breeding solely for color in a very tight gene pool will produce many other genetic flaws.

Here are some things to consider:
Is the blue and black wool as good quality as the white wooled individuals?
Are the blue and black individuals the same conformation quality as your prize winners?
Since you have a registered flock can you register blue and black individuals?
Are you breeding for quality or color?
Can you afford to keep a small flock purely for color experimentation?

If you decide to breed to try to produce blue and black sheep in your breed, yu need to do some studies on genetics. Then have fun!
You have given me a lot of information to digest. I know I need to get some reading up done on this. I have been relying on the extensive breeding program of the person supplying our current genetics. They have a broad enough program that we will have three unrelated rams and a flock of ewes that can breed directly with any of them. Through four breeder rams we have accumulated a broad enough genetic pool to begin in-house breeding. The AI side is where I have relied on others. These sheep come from Great Britain, Tasmania and Virginia…all the oldest flocks with the genetics that best match the original breed standard before the breed diminished to just 50 remaining in the 1920’s. It has been a hard won battle that is not yet over to keep this breed alive.
Our focus is on health, reproduction and breed standard. Only 4 star carded (judged-as there is no breed standard for judging yet because of the limited stock available they are judged on a 5 star carding system by just a few judges) sheep advance to re-breeding. Those have to take priority over color. But I cannot ignore color because very demanding wool customers who only accept natural colors…and put in orders based on what they want…are a very important revenue stream that I cannot afford to ignore. The base color is white. But the breed allows for black, brown, blue and white. The historical use of these sheep’s wool was for the white wigs used in Parliament, Judges and Barristers wigs. The secondary market came with the greater indulgence of children during the Victorian period where the industry standard for doll’s hair were exclusively the long lustrous ringlets of wool that were indistinguishable from clean, well kept human hair. For the doll industry, the colors were not only tolerated but encouraged.
We have one black and one blue and a tan…which is not a color we are trying to produce much of currently. This year I bred to a white ram only. Next year we re-intoduce the line to a blue ram. As of this Summer we will have enough unrelated rams of the right colors in house to maintain our own in-farm breeding program for the foreseeable future. I have a clock on my efforts. I am 60 this year and plan to sell a working sheep farm in 15 years to retire. So what I can learn and do and enjoy now is it. I know that this is a very short window to build a flock with specific genetics and I can only hope the future buyer continues the program but that will not be my concern. If I end up like my grandmother I will fall in the garden hard at work and that would suit me fine.
Do you recommend any particular books on sheep genetics?
 
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Ridgetop

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Basic color genetics is fairly stable throughout different species. There are only 3 color genes - white (absence of color) black, and moorit (brown). All other colors derive from combinations of these genes, combined with other genetic "blockers" which determine parti color (spotted or patterned), head only color etc.

Here are several papers and articles written on the subject of color in sheep by authors across the globe which might be of interest to you.


I became interested in color genetics when breeding Holland Lop rabbits. At one time we bred a few market lambs that were black or lovely silver gray and were a standout in the show ring. Since I no longer want the work (or expense) of shearing we switched from Dorsets to White Dorpers. Our interest is in meat production. However, the study of color genetics is fascinating and if you are serious about incorporating a number of naturally colored wool sheep in your flock, you will enjoy experimenting.

Since you are interested in wool quality, pay close attention to any difference in crimp or length of staple that may be produced by the color variations you produce. While I have not read about anything extreme, I did notice there was a slight difference in texture between the white hair and black hair of my Pinto mare.

Have fun!
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day folks,yesterday evening we had delivered (after a almost 9 month wait,due to Covid restrictions) the last peice in our breeding jigsaw. 4 rams,Compisites bred from Red Meatmasters.As you can see from the photos they are pretty impressive in lots of ways and will have a very good impact going forward to the prodgeny...T.O.R.
 

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