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Author Topic: How closely related can sheep be?  (Read 975 times)

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
How closely related can sheep be?
« on: April 21, 2023, 11:12:37 am »
How close is too close for breeding?

There are two ewes and a tup. All have different Mums. Ewes have a different Dad to the tup. The link is the eweís Grandad on their damís side is the Great Grandad of the tup (on the damís side again). Would this be an issue for breeding?

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2023, 12:45:42 pm »
NO,it is referred to as line breeding

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2023, 01:05:08 pm »
Thanks Shep  :)

Just had a quick Google of line breeding - so this scenario is okay and itís direct brother/sister, Mum/son sort of stuff thatís inbreeding. Iím guessing if all three had the same sire it would be an issue, even with different dams. Thereís my homework for later anyway!

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2023, 06:03:24 pm »
 Have a look at Robert Bakewell if you really want to see the art of line breeding

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2023, 06:03:54 pm »
It also matters what you are breeding for.  If it's meat sheep, frankly a little bit of inbreeding shouldn't make any difference.  if it's pedigree gimmers to sell, it matters a lot! 

We have used our Shetland tup, Nigel Ever Ready Golden Balls, 5 times now, and he is on his daughters now of course.  No issues at all for sheep to eat, or even to keep on as fleece sheep, but we wouldn't keep ewe lambs who are both his daughter and granddaughter on for replacement breeding ewes. 

(We're only breeding for ourselves, and all the ewes who are not related to Nigel, and therefore whose daughters we might keep on for breeders, have at least one other breed in them, so the genetics of our father-daughter pairings carry a lot of heterogeneity, much more than you would get if inbreeding pure bred sheep.) 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2023, 02:11:32 am »
I'm glad you wrote that Sally, saved me the effort  ;D


I love Nigel Ever Ready Golden Balls, can't stop sniggering.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2023, 08:51:30 am »
Reading this with interest as I need to source another ram this year, purely to produce lambs for meat, but need something to cover both Wiltshire Horn and Soay ewes. We have 3 entire ram lambs growing on atm (WH x Soay) and would be tempted to keep one apart from the fact he is related to the WHs (mum and 2 aunties) and 2 of the 4 Soays (half sisters). Would be cheaper to use our own home bred ram (and no need for quarantining etc) than buying in. But discarded the idea as too closely related.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2023, 09:48:44 am »
Reading this with interest as I need to source another ram this year, purely to produce lambs for meat, but need something to cover both Wiltshire Horn and Soay ewes. We have 3 entire ram lambs growing on atm (WH x Soay) and would be tempted to keep one apart from the fact he is related to the WHs (mum and 2 aunties) and 2 of the 4 Soays (half sisters). Would be cheaper to use our own home bred ram (and no need for quarantining etc) than buying in. But discarded the idea as too closely related.

Personally, for meat sheep, I'd use the home bred.  As long as he's an excellent sheep, and of course be alert for any issues in the youngsters which might lead you to not use him a second time.  (Eg., my previous Shetland tup, Chad, was awesome, but when I used him on his half-sister (same sire), I got lambs with poor feet.  So I didn't repeat that pairing.) 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2023, 12:45:03 pm »
Close line breeding is used to bring out the best attributes But it can also really show up any defects .    Personally i would not consider a  wilt x soay as a meat producer , you could produce lambs that have the size of wilts or the smallness of soay  even out of wilt ewes , why ? do you have 2 different breeds at the opposite ends of the size spectrum     ,it must make feeding awkward ?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2023, 02:16:52 pm »
If it's meat lambs to sell fat, I'd agree, but if it's for meat for friends and family, I can completely see why you'd be happy with the combination.  The first, it's all about grading / conformation and weight, the second it's (almost) all about flavour ;)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2023, 04:53:49 pm »
I can see what shep is saying. Using a crossbred as a sire will give you lambs that could either be more WH or more Soay, and then add in any genetic defects which could rear their head with being inbred, itís a no from me. If youíre only using a ram to produce meat lambs, a good quality pure or pedigree shearling ram of your breed choice should easily offset the purchase price, as he can stay for much longer than a ram that youíre keeping daughters from.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: How closely related can sheep be?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2023, 09:51:18 am »
Close line breeding is used to bring out the best attributes But it can also really show up any defects .    Personally i would not consider a  wilt x soay as a meat producer , you could produce lambs that have the size of wilts or the smallness of soay  even out of wilt ewes , why ? do you have 2 different breeds at the opposite ends of the size spectrum     ,it must make feeding awkward ?

When we started with sheep we wanted animals that were hardy and would do ok on our land (dry, sandy soil, poor pasture). We also wanted sheep that we find attractive. We like horned sheep. Not bothered about fleece so chose shedders to eliminate the need for shearing (not many choices there). After extensive reading these were the two that ticked the boxes. We only want meat for ourselves and a little extra to sell to friends and family (and yes the flavour is also important - we find our sheep taste soooo much better than the local Texels).

We don't have many sheep - currently 9 adults and 6 lambs. Pure Soays grow slowly whilst the WH X Soay makes a good size in 6 months. We want to get a bigger ram so we can produce something a little larger out of the Soays but he's got to tick the boxes, as before. I'm concerned a pure WH ram on the Soays might be too large though. 

Feeding isn't an issue. They all do fine on just grass with added hay in the winter. The in lamb ewes are separated from the main flock a few weeks before lambing and they get a small ration of ewe nuts just pre and post lambing.  The lambs grow well on mother's milk and grass alone.

I really do appreciate all your input and expertise - and apologies to Tommytink for hijacking this thread!

 

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