Are your black sheep black?

Do your black sheep look black all year?

  • Yes

    Votes: 4 80.0%
  • No

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Some do, some don't.

    Votes: 1 20.0%

  • Total voters
    5

Beekissed

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
2,577
Reaction score
2,543
Points
373
Location
mountains of WV
Having a discussion on a FB page with Katahdin owners about black sheep having brown wool. This topic has interested me since an incident I had with my black sheep this summer wherein the wool went from black to brown on her back...but when a situation was corrected, it went back to black again. She remains largely black except for a small spot on her shoulders.

The last time I had black sheep or black spotted sheep, I too assumed that black wool just turns red or brown in the sun over time, but I'm finding that's just not the case. It all comes down to what they consume, in particular it could come down to marginal copper deficiencies.

Not much study done on it but I have to wonder what else marginal copper deficiency affects in our flocks if it affects the hair in that manner? Found a study or two on it.....



I've been noticing that Greg Judy's hair sheep also remain black all year. He has a salad bar mineral setup for his so they can sample whatever mineral they need at the time, without ingesting unneeded minerals otherwise.

So, do your black sheep stay black all year round or do they look like they are wearing a brown overcoat?
 

High Desert Cowboy

True BYH Addict
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Messages
364
Reaction score
1,627
Points
213
Location
Utah
53E1019C-A583-47A3-A51B-15B0EDE05F72.jpeg
9988CB30-141C-454D-A3C8-6EC547181823.jpeg
Shaun when’s he’s mostly slicked out is black with some white. But in the cold he sports a brown coat like the second picture, you can see a strip of what’s left when he was shedding in the top picture. His “mane” always stays black though.
 
Last edited:

Beekissed

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
2,577
Reaction score
2,543
Points
373
Location
mountains of WV
What I hear from most folks is the thought that black wool just fades to red or brown in the sunlight, evidenced by the black coat underneath when they shed. I used to think the same thing, but this summer's episode has me thinking in another way.

Then, to see other folks using copper in minerals for sheep who also have black sheep all year round kind of confirms it. Copper seems to be a touchy subject with many, with many horror stories about copper toxicity and sheep death told as legend....but you don't hear much from folks who feed copper to sheep in supplements and feed rations who have sheep that do well all their lives. No need to talk about that, I suppose.

As with all things to do with health, all things in moderation seems to be the key and all of the trace minerals seem to work in conjunction with one another. Too much of any one thing threatens to lessen the effectiveness of another or heighten the effects, with just as bad results for the animal.

Found this blurb on a feed/supplement site: https://www.stockadebrands.com/arti...cks/why-am-i-seeing-copper-on-my-sheep-label/

And a blog site that was interesting: https://colliefarm.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/cu-for-ewes/

All of these things get me to thinking....and until I satisfy my thoughts one way or another, I do a lot of research and discussion.

Pics of my black ewe when I got her...black as can be in July....

100_1846.JPG


100_1856.JPG


..and later after a mineral imbalance episode...

100_2138.JPG




and then this winter, when wool should be at its most faded, according to all those "experts" out there claiming it's just sun faded and old wool coloring. She still has a small area of brown, but her winter garment is mostly coal black and shining in the sun.

100_2418.JPG


It was these color changes with the changes in minerals given that intrigued me about the topic but I'm finding it's a very divisive topic among shepherds. For the life of me, I can't imagine why, but as I've found over the years with chickens, if it's part of the accepted wisdom, it's gospel and if it's not, it's dangerous to even talk about it.

I'm not much for herd type thinking, though I love my flocks, so I'll go on questioning the accepted "wisdom" when I see things differently on my own land.

@Baymule ...I think you feed some level of copper to your sheep, don't you? Care to talk about that?
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
5,677
Reaction score
5,773
Points
483
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
I wonder if its totally different for wool sheep.

I know in wool sheep, lack of minerals can cause the wool to grey. Once minerals are restored, wool darkens again, creating a stripe.
And there are lines that are more prone to sun fading & greying. Sometimes it seems related. Have a Cali sheep that is from darker lines, she started bleaching immediately upon arrival, even with minerals available. But she's still darker than my other blacks. Idk if the breeder fed any copper.

20200131_110230.jpg
 

Roving Jacobs

Seeing Spots
Joined
Jul 27, 2012
Messages
513
Reaction score
737
Points
213
Location
NE OH
My black sheep get lots of copper, way more than most people would feed, and still sun bleach. It is hard for them to transport melanocytes all the way to the end of the wool fiber when they get long so they bleach easier. Some people are breeding for non-bleaching black wool but its not a huge priority to me. And yes, some have the early greying gene and are now a solid steel grey color instead of black on their bodies. No amount of copper is going to change that but I can see the difference on the hair on their faces and legs when they need more.
 

Beekissed

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
2,577
Reaction score
2,543
Points
373
Location
mountains of WV
One study I read suggested that the role of selenium and copper in the health of sheep were intertwined, so that has me running down another rabbit hole of research. I wonder how much our dependence on premixed minerals for our livestock has us missing a lot of benefits of them being able to select for their specific needs.

I'd like to experiment with all of that as time goes along here, just to see what different mineral mixes yield in the way of health and productivity.

I like the idea of Greg Judy's use of a mineral selection station that presents individual minerals that the animals can select according to their needs....and I've noticed his black sheep are black this winter as well. It may be cost or sourcing prohibitive, but the change in hair color leads me to believe that it's indicative of possible mineral deficiencies that may affect overall hardiness, parasite resistance and productivity over time that may play a role in how we cull our flocks. Could be we are just culling animals that haven't had access to the right balance of minerals over time as opposed to various other factors.

It's something to ponder.
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
5,677
Reaction score
5,773
Points
483
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
My black sheep get lots of copper, way more than most people would feed, and still sun bleach. It is hard for them to transport melanocytes all the way to the end of the wool fiber when they get long so they bleach easier. Some people are breeding for non-bleaching black wool but its not a huge priority to me. And yes, some have the early greying gene and are now a solid steel grey color instead of black on their bodies. No amount of copper is going to change that but I can see the difference on the hair on their faces and legs when they need more.
Wool/hair is old cells, nothing fed now will ever change the color or health of those old, expelled cells once they are past the skin. Well, besides hair dye. :lol:
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
5,677
Reaction score
5,773
Points
483
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
One study I read suggested that the role of selenium and copper in the health of sheep were intertwined, so that has me running down another rabbit hole of research. I wonder how much our dependence on premixed minerals for our livestock has us missing a lot of benefits of them being able to select for their specific needs.

I'd like to experiment with all of that as time goes along here, just to see what different mineral mixes yield in the way of health and productivity.

I like the idea of Greg Judy's use of a mineral selection station that presents individual minerals that the animals can select according to their needs....and I've noticed his black sheep are black this winter as well. It may be cost or sourcing prohibitive, but the change in hair color leads me to believe that it's indicative of possible mineral deficiencies that may affect overall hardiness, parasite resistance and productivity over time that may play a role in how we cull our flocks. Could be we are just culling animals that haven't had access to the right balance of minerals over time as opposed to various other factors.

It's something to ponder.
I used to give a selenium/salt block that I would pound into loose mix, but they aren't always in store when I'm there. =/ Mine have loose salt and then loose mixed minerals, too. I never paid attention back when I fed the loose selenium, I'll have to find it and pay attention this time.
I'll need a much better feeder before I spend the money on individual minerals, as my flock just loves to wee in it...:somad
 

Jesusfreak101

True BYH Addict
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
1,616
Reaction score
3,120
Points
263
Location
Texas
No sheep here yet but i am gonna watch. I do think even us humans have mineral deficiences that take a toll on our skin, hair, nails and all other parts that can causes issues. I had read that if a pregnant mother doesnt get the nutrition she needs that if can show up later in the child's teeth that they can have sever misalignment or extra teeth ect. My husband mother with him didn't and his teeth when he was little had to have braces and they pulled several from other spots that teeth shouldnt be at. So far my kids have shown this as but will keep watching. I do believe mineral, vitamins play a major part in our kids same with chemicals and pharmaceuticals. I gonna probably get argued with on this but there are alot of rehason we decided on this so please bare with me. We don't vaccinate our children because of health issue we seen in our family that have been a reaction to them. My daughter did get vaccines before i really researched into them but she was sick very often when she was younger like every other week. However my two sons who either got no vaccines or one at birth they are much less prone to getting sick or even allergies. Thats not saying they don't on either but they have a lot less then my oldest. And other parents that i know who don't also have the same experience. Like i said i think alot of this can play in to our health for both humans and animals.
 

Beekissed

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
2,577
Reaction score
2,543
Points
373
Location
mountains of WV
. I gonna probably get argued with on this but there are alot of rehason we decided on this so please bare with me. We don't vaccinate our children because of health issue we seen in our family that have been a reaction to them.
Won't get any argument from me! If I knew then what I know now, my boys wouldn't have gotten more than the bare minimum of polio and a MMR....once. I too have seen things in my boys that strongly suggest the vaccines could have caused the issues. Same with flu shots and other vacs they regularly push on the populace. As a nurse I used to do flu clinics and give those shots by the hundreds each day, but have since learned better.

I applaud those who do their research and don't give in to the considerable pressure from all sides, especially now....folks almost lynching those who don't want to vaccinate. :rolleyes:
 
Last edited:
Top