Purebreds

Purebred animals don’t really make sense for me. There is no market for purebred livestock around here. Moreover it’s been documented that when you cross two different breeds the first generation of crossbred offspring will get a boost from what is called “hybrid vigor.” The mutt factor. Nevertheless purebreds please my eye and so I will always have some. My goal is to eventually have a flock of pure Clun Forest sheep.

There are a lot of reasons to like Clun Forest sheep (smart, alert, quick-growing, good mothers, easy birthers, nice wool) but I confess I partly just like their looks.

Having sold my registered Clun Forest ram, at this point I don’t have any registered sheep. My foundation Clun Forest ewe, Blackberry, could not be registered because her mother was impregnated when an unknown ram jumped a fence. However, this took place on a farm with only Clun Forest sheep, so there is no doubt that though unregisterable, Blackberry is pure Clun Forest.

That is Blackberry on the far left, her daughter Lily, Lily’s lambs Edelweiss and 09, and Blackberry’s 2011 ewe lamb, Mulberry. They are all purebred Clun Forest sheep but cannot be registered. For now, at least, registration doesn’t matter unduly to me.

My Jersey cattle are purebred, also, but again they are “grade” animals. I don’t know their exact parentage. Since one was free for the driving and the other cost me $20, I can hardly complain.

Here are Moxie, my Jersey rescue heifer, and Duke, my Jersey bull calf, playing this morning.

You’ll notice that Duke, 5.5 months, is now the same size as Moxie, 19 months. Moxie is cycling regularly. My guess would be that Duke would settle her in July, when he is nine months old. If all systems are go, that would mean a calf in April, 2012. Just to be sure he doesn’t precociously jump the gun and give me a calf in the snows of March, I’ll want to separate them this spring for the month of June.

Meanwhile Katika is due at the end of June. (I’ll be weaning Duke next week and drying Katika off by the end of this month.) My guess is that she will not be cycling to be bred again until September or October, which would mean a calf for her in July or August, 2012.

Lots to think about. In the meantime I pause as I muck the stalls just to watch and enjoy them all.

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