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Author Topic: Hebridean Genetic Diversity / flock management / breeding strategy  (Read 11774 times)

Coximus

  • Joined Aug 2014
Hey all,

Just looking for some input into my breeding strat going forwards ;
Ive decided to concentrate on building up my flock of Hebs over the next 2-3 years to 60-100, with some put to terminal sires for lambs, but as I've found hebs sell reasonablly well into the ring / hook I will only do a few of them to sires each year.

otherwise I want to develop a breeding strategy to keep them pretty diverse genetically - and also interesting (I like having a mix, got a few 5 & 6 horned ewes, one topknot and only 1 "conventional" two horned lady - and all are excellent sheep, good feet, mouths and mothers.

My idea is to create 3-4 family groups of 10-20 ewes - and work on the strategy that each group breeds with a ram from a different group each year - with 1-4 ewe lambs retained each year as replacements in each group. - I would group the family 1-2-3-4 etc and always breed with a ram from the previous group (may sometimes run 1 good ram with one group one year, another the next) so for example group two always goes to a 1 ram, 3 to a 2 and so on.

I could then, as required Buy in an external ram, to cover 1 family as needed, and this would introduce new bloodlines over time which would cascade through the familys. As each year 2-3 new ewes enter each family, with different blood to many of the others this should create plenty of diveristy over the flock and within groups.

has anyone done anything similar, and are their any problems with my plan!?

verdifish

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
No but I love the strategy! Where are you as we are also planning something similar .

Red

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • North Yorkshire
Hi there that sounds complicated but I think it will work. We also had Hebs and are increasing our flock but very concious of good blood stock / lines and have just produced 2 very beautiful 4 horned boys that we intend to keep as Rams. We also have access to other proven Heb rams so if you need any in the future just shout x
Red

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Hi we are doing something similar too we have hebrideans a mix of  genetics some cracking 2horns sheep some 4 horn one top knot one scurred  we bought from different sources so we can use our own tups by moving things around occasionally bringing outside blood. We sell meat but are limited on what we can take through winter so planning to expand slightly using terminal sires and selling fat /stores before the back end.  If you are interested we have a registered 5 horn tup who we have used the last couple of years who will be surplus to requirements (top horns have 2  fused but free at end) - can send genetics if its any use

verdifish

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
Maybe we heb breeders could start a heb thread for all things heb related !!!

Coximus

  • Joined Aug 2014
Im based in North Yorkshire near harrogate So Red, I would be interested - Ive already got a ram swap / loan on the cards for this year, but Id be interested in more, as Diversity is my key at the moment - so Would be happy to start with familys as small as 4-6 ewes to each ram. Where in North Yorks are you baseD?

verdifish

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
Coximus ,I'm in Harrogate next Saturday to pick up a kune kune boar ,could I pay you a flying visit ?

Coximus

  • Joined Aug 2014
Possibly - My sheep are currently in with a comercial mule flock while my land gets re-fenced and the drainage sorted - what time abouts as I work saturdays usually (also are you coming down from scotland?)

verdifish

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
I'm in Yorkshire Fri afternoon / evening so could also do Fri eve , then picking up a new billy and then a new boar so as for timings , Fri eve would be better for me if I'm honest ! If your not available don't fret mate I know we all have to work to feed the buggers !

Coximus

  • Joined Aug 2014
True, Ill post up here, Im a gardener by day trade so pretty beholden to the weather - cant really commit more than a day or two in advance!

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Oh it's great to hear that you folks are keen to keep plenty of diversity in your flocks  :thumbsup:. Is that genetic diversity only, or phenotypic too (what they look like as opposed to what their genes say).
Any of you who have visited our website (in need of updating) will know that we concentrate on maintaining a line of the ancient type of Hebridean - multi-horned or topknotted/polled/scurred, a variety of fleece shades, a variety of fleece types, wider faces, longlived and so on - all within the breed description, but not popular in the showring.  We sell only privately direct from the farm.

As we are both a bit decrepit, we have been cutting back our Heb numbers, but we get enough lambs each year to supply a couple of folk with small starter flocks.  We hope to keep going as long as possible, but we are aware of the need to raise interest in the ancient type of Hebridean, so there are others to help maintain this original type of the breed. One needs to be immune to the opinions of others, as those who show can be very scatheing about the ancient, 'unimproved' type of Hebridean.

For us, one of the keys to genetic diversity is to use plenty of unrelated tups, from unusual bloodlines, rather than just one from a 'popular' bloodline ie show winners.  If you look through the flock book, you will see which breeders sell plenty of tups, which reduces the genetic diversity of the breed.
We find it difficult to source tups of the right type.  We bought a very pretty 4 horned lamb at Melton Mowbray last year, and we are waiting to see how his offspring turn out.  he's not of the ancient type though.

It would be good to have a Hebridean thread - so much to discuss, and the breed is always increasing in popularity.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Do you Heb folk want a Heb Board on here? We're planning to put on a Shetland Cattle board.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
That sounds good Rosemary  :thumbsup:
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

verdifish

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
Please rosemary,and i promise to behave!

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
This is a very interesting thread not just for Heb breeders, but anyone trying to understand more about breeding primitives!
 :thumbsup:
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

 

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