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Author Topic: Sheep genetics  (Read 7220 times)


  • Joined Oct 2015
Sheep genetics
« on: November 06, 2015, 11:20:51 pm »
Does anybody on here truly understand the genetics of breeding coloured sheep, and is prepared to answer a few questions for me, PLEASE.


  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2015, 04:43:48 am »
What are your questions?
Then someone may be able to answer them specifically.


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2015, 06:51:40 am »
If it is specific breed colour genetics you actually may be better off talking to the relevant breed society.


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2015, 12:12:53 pm »
O.K., fair comments. Perhaps I should explain a little more. I am a 'hobby' breeder, being retired I can indulge my hobby.

My aim is to produce a sort of English version of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep, (you can't get them in the UK for love nor money).

I started with a flock of Soays, to which I put a Wiltshire Horn ram. The purpose was to reinforce the hair sheep, (no shear) character, and also to improve confirmation. Not surprisingly, all the lambs were white. The best ram was selected from these and put with another small flock of Soays. I'm thinking it is possible I might get approx 50% coloured lambs from this as they will be 3/4 Soay.

I intend to put these coloured offspring ewes with a Badgerfaced Torddu ram. My understanding is that neither the Badgerfaced gene, nor the Mouflon gene exhibits dominance over the other, so I may get some lambs with black bellies, tan backs, and badger faces.

All this is very much guesswork, and I was hoping to get some expert guidance. The various breed societies show little interest in my breeding as I am not keeping them pure bred, and of course would not be registering them.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2015, 12:17:37 pm »
I put my Badger Face to a Southdown for commercial type lambs every other year and the lambs occasionally have woolly sideburns and sometimes a light tan mottling on the face.  They exhibit no BF markings whatsoever.


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2015, 12:21:20 pm »
I found this if you're interested? Question is though are you able to import from the US of A?
This guy may have some. Just wondering..... is this the same Tim W which is on this forum?
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 12:28:46 pm by waterbuffalofarmer »
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.


  • Joined May 2010
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2015, 12:38:55 pm »
Try the Shetland Sheep Society facebook page. There are many SSS members who are positively obsessed with colour genetics.  For example, some members have bred up to increase the numbers of gulmoget sheep in the national flock, which were very rare but now there are many.

I think the genetics you are dealing with are far more complex than you imagine, and your research will occupy you for many happy years.  There are plenty of scientific research papers on the subject, if you want to immerse yourself in it.

I have seen BBB sheep in their home territory, and I can't help but think that the real thing would struggle here with the weather.  So given what you hope to achieve, I like the idea of using British sheep to create your own version of the BBB - that's what it's all about.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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


  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2015, 12:55:04 pm »
An interesting experiment, one thing of note those with a hair or hairier coat should show pattern development more clearly as hair holds colour better over wool fibre.

Be prepared for some spotties too :-)

Pics please when the lambs are born
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 01:00:16 pm by kanisha »
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  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2015, 01:30:14 pm »
Thanks all, that is very helpful. Marches Farmer, I suspect the reason you have those lambs is because white is dominant over all colours, same reason why my F1 lambs were white.

I know I am attempting something rather difficult, and do know a little about genetics, but that is all part of the challenge. I know that colour combination is possible, because the BBB exists. I am also told that the Badgerfaced sheep occasionally throw a lamb with a tan back, but because they do not conform to breed standards, they are usually culled.

I shall study the links provided with great interest, and would also welcome any further comments.


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2015, 01:50:58 pm »
To answer 'Waterbuffalofarmer', I think it is possible to import BBB semen only, doubtless at great expense, and the risk of indifferent results. I am making use of UK breeds, because they are readily available, and because they are known to be hardy in our climate.

No, I am not Tim White, he is in Wiltshire, opposite side of the country from me, and his sheep are predominately white.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2015, 02:12:12 pm »
Random things I know about colour in sheep include:

Jacob colour seems to have more dominance than most; first cross Jacob x Texels are not predominantly white, in fact many of the lambs will be all black.

Blue Texels have two recessive genes, as I understand it.  The gene exists in the general Texel population, so crossing 'regular' with Blue can result in some coloured offspring in the F1 generation.

Shetland colour genetics is extremely complex but fairly well documented, and there are a wealth of colours, patterns and markings.  Similarly Icelandics.  Whether any of the behaviours of genes in these breeds is applicable to other breeds, I do not know, but I have been told that left alone, most of these sheep would tend to all moorit (brown), hence the prevalence of brown native breeds such as Manx and Soay. 

I have many questions, but for now, I'll ask this one.  Why does it matter what colour your sheep are, if they are to shed their hair and not produce a wool crop ???
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


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2015, 03:27:46 pm »
Why do I want to produce these sheep ? Because I think I can, because it is an interesting hobby, because we can always learn something new.

No, I have no interest in seeking the approbation of others, that is not a consideration.

I chose hair sheep because dipping and shearing is time consuming, expensive, and barely economically viable.

Having said that, the meat is excellent, not too much fat, very good on flavour, and the animals are very hardy.

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2015, 05:21:11 pm »
There are BBB sheep in the UK, I have had some which I used in a breeding program
I have also seen them in Germany and Netherlands but importing may be difficult due to poor scrapie genotypes

They are capable of surviving here (they did ok on my system ---outside all year, no feed other than grass etc) and have pros and cons like any type of sheep.

I know of 1 man who has a flock now , not too far from me ---


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2015, 07:18:01 pm »
That is very interesting news Tim W, obviously for me the UK stock is of most interest, provided I don't need a 2nd mortgage to buy a ram, also taking into consideration transport costs. I have seen a few people are searching for BBB, but all seem to have drawn a blank.

You hint at certain breed problems - care to elucidate ?

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Sheep genetics
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2015, 08:15:56 pm »
BBB in my limited experience

Pros---hair sheep, excellent lamb vigour, early sexual maturity , breed all year round even with lambs at foot (more so than Dorsets), large litters
Cons---large litters, feet get over grown quickly, very small carcass size, very poor conformation

If you can get an 'O' grade carcass you will be very pleased---'P's grades are more usual

Don't believe the worm resistance claims---I have measured individual FEC and have accurate EBVs for worm resistance . Just like all breeds some BBB have good FEC and some are poor

These observations come from starting with a small pure flock and a larger crossbred recorded population over a few years.


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