Is it too early to be thinking about a Corriedale or Cormo ram for August? Since many producers sell rams as lambs, I’ve already started inquiring…and inquiring…and inquiring…
First, I started by looking around at the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association. What I discovered was that there aren’t many people raising Corries or Cormos around here, and many that do aren’t breeding them. This is also the case for most of New England, alas. A nearby farm with Corries wants to keep their adult ram, and their lambs will be born too late for my early breeding schedule. Ditto for the truly excellent stock at Applerose Farm in New York. I really like Cormo fiber and want to keep those characteristics in my girls.
Given the shortage of suitable suitors for my ewes in New England, my mother and I are planning a special road trip out to Windborne Farm in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. There, I will have the opportunity to choose ram lambs from among his exciting flock of award-winning Corriedales. This farm artificially breeds their ewes to champion rams from Australia for exceptional wool quality.
Be forewarned: I am about to get nerdy about genetics:
My goal now is to select a ram of exceptional quality to use in a linebreeding program alternating with my ram lamb from this year who I’ve christened “Doc Watson.” (I can’t just call him “the ram” forever!). I will breed most of my ewes to the lamb and maybe one or two to Doc Watson (his mother and half-sisters will be excluded). In 2015, I’ll swap and breed a few ewes to the new ram and Doc Watson to the new rams offspring. In future generations, I’ll breed either ram to their own granddaughters or otherwise unrelated ewes with no more than one “repeat” in the pedigree. Does this make sense? Maybe I need to draw a picture. In roughly 2016, I’ll need another sire for the herd. This genetic “concentration” will serve to retain the good characteristics my sheep have (like wool uniformity and twinning) and to standardize the disparate ones (some are big and some are small, I want them to be all medium!)
For now, though, neither I nor the sheep really have to worry too much- we have time to get a ram and the main topic of interest is the fresh green grass springing up everywhere. The girls can’t wait.