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Before & After

Posted 10/6/2009 10:26pm by Catskill Merino.

To move the ewes in the open, Dominique leads them with a partially filled pail of grain singing to them as she walks; I follow the flock with Poem.


What Dominique sees looking backward


What Poem sees looking forward

Here the ewes cross a small bridge on their way to a classing yard near the silos on the far left.  We classed (evaluated) the ewe's 2009 lamb crop earlier in the day and picked stellar individuals as measured by their size, vigor and wool quality. The 60 dams of these elite lambs will be bred back to the same sires we used last year, hopefully replicating the get.

The dams of the lambs that didn't measure up because the lambs were smaller, less vigorous with wool faults (for example an open or not-dense fleece) or generally unthrifty (perhaps too inbred*) to my classing eye and hand will be terminal sired for market lambs this year being bred by our new Ile-de-France rams.  These crossbred offspring will exhibit hetrosis or hybrid vigor; they will be larger, meatier, more thrifty and faster growing than the purbred merino lambs, but they will have coarser wool (Ile-de-France sheep  have medium wool, yet I'm hoping for an average fiber diameter of 21 microns on the offspring which is still considered fine wool) that we will sort at shearing, keeping it separate from the finer  purebred merino wool (16-18 microns) that is to be spun into knitting yarn, and have blankets woven from it.

*Next year I will import merino semen from Australia, sourcing different bloodlines to outbreed the merinos, increasing the hetrosis of my lines while maintaining our noted, ultra-fine wool.