I got my scrapie DNA test results back already- wow, both rams are “RR”! That’s pretty cool news. I think what I’m going to do is keep them both for this fall’s breeding cycle, and split the ewes between them, so that I have a more diverse lineage next spring.
I’m waffling over whom to keep for the longer term. Hershey is getting older, so I may sell him so someone else can get a few year’s use out of him before he’s ready for the slaughter truck. Hershey is a very good ram, big, sturdy, nice hair coat, tough feet, and calm. The ram lamb is nice in body, but he is wooly, and short-necked. So I should probably be picky about that in using him too much. Rams have so much influence since they end up siring so many offspring, it’s important to choose very good ones. Versus ewes, one can be more forgiving with some flaws, as long as they are good mothers and are paired with a high quality sire.
I don’t entirely mind the shedding wool, most of the year they are still nice-looking animals. But right now, while they are shedding, they look very moth-eaten, and the wool they shed is messy in the pasture. So, I think I’d like to work to breed away from that for my own personal tastes. Not to mention, it’s the preferred thing to do for the Katahdin breed improvement, as the “true” hair coat is supposed to be the goal. On the other hand, that is mostly an appearance-based evaluation of the animals. My primary focus is their production traits: do the ewes produce robust twins and are the offspring well structured in their meat traits, and fast-growing?
By the way, I can’t remember if I provided this link before. Here is a very nice explanation of the scrapie DNA subject, courtesy of the Erradicate Scrapie website. Simple enough for the layman to understand, but technical enough for the interested breeer to find useful in evaluating how DNA testing might fit into their breeding program.