Thursday, May 1, 2008

Completely Baffled

Last night around 5:30pm, Rai Min gave me my last lamb of the season. It's nice to be finished with lambing. Since it was cloudy, the barn was dark, and the lamb was all wet, all I could tell was that it was a dark colored lamb. (Rai Min was being an excellent mom by the way.) After a quick basic exam in the jug to make sure everything was ok, I also knew I had a big ram lamb with already emerging horn buds. I was quite surprised Rai Min delivered this big boy so easily.
Even in the dim light last night I couldn't see any Katmoget markings, so I knew I had a grey or a musket lamb: Rai Min is solid black with moorit recessive. Bombarde can only sire Katmogets or Ag lambs and he is moorit based. So this morning I marched out to the barn to look for sugar lips on a brown lamb or a black lamb.
Get this: No sugar lips. No pale scrotum. No lighter inner ears.
And even more puzzling, I can not tell whether this lamb is brown or black. The color is somewhere between dull black, raw umber, and mud. Next to his pure black dam, the lamb is definitely not black. But I've seen moorit newborns before and he's just not like that either. I'm not aware of Bombarde or Rai Min being modified. I'll have to look into the pedigrees for that info. Perhaps they are carriers. That's easy enough to accept if it turns out to be the case.
But how do I explain a solid lamb from a ram that is an Ag Katmoget? I can't figure that out. And I am 100% sure Bombarde was the only ram Rai Min was exposed to. She was locked in a barn stall the first half of breeding season. Then I put Allister down-so he didn't exist anymore-and Rai Min was exposed to Bombarde. In fact, I SAW Rai bred by Bombarde. I predicted May 1st as her due date, and she delivered 6.5 hours prior to that.
Is it possible that the Ag traits will develop as he matures? Is there a blip in the system? I really don't know.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I have heard from others that some Ag lambs do not exhibit the telltale signs and you have to wait quite awhile before you see lighter fleece coming in. These tend to stay darker. I have three moorit lambs that LOOK solid, but since their daddy is musket, I am reserving judgement for as long as possible. Two others showed the classic signs; the musket is fading so fast I wonder if he is Ag/Ag (his dam is grey), the black/grey twin's fleece is steely grey at the skin at this point, not light. It will be interesting to follow your mystery lamb!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

A couple other things to check and note: what color is his nose leather, and what color is his tongue?

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Hi Michelle,

This lamb has a very dark brown nose. His fleece is very dark brown-lacking any of the chocolate tones-just mud black/brown. His legs and the tiny amount of guard hair on his britch, tail, and head is also very black. His tongue is dark brown, and his scrotum is dark brown. No lighter hairs in his ears whatsoever.

I don't register lambs right away. In fact I usually wait till they are about 1 year. So there is no reason for me to worry about his color. I'm just so puzzled by the fact that he is not obviously Ag like he should be. I've had other Ag lambs born here, both blacks and moorits, and this guy is different.

He's cute and healthy though. He has incredible fleece like Bombarde and excellent structure/tail. His horn buds are almost as big as the much older Bam. He might turn out to be a ram worth offering for sale. I wish I was closer to you because I really like the recent photos you took of Braveheart. He's a beefcake-very nice!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I'm going to go out on my newby limb here and declare that he is NOT Ag, not if he has a dark brown tongue. How you got him, genetically speaking, is a question for someone else to offer! I would guess that either you have Bombarde's genetics wrong, or there is an extension gene at work.

Thanks for the compliments on Braveheart. I guess it's a good thing he looks so "manly," as I've found out that the judge at BSG is not who I heard it was. The real judge is decent, but rewards the bigger-sized sheep, which I think is unfortunate unless the bigger sheep also happens to have the best characteristics in every other aspect

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

What color is a moorit Ag tongue supposed to be? I'm clueless on the tongue thing.

Becky Utecht said...

Bombarde's genetics are Ab/Ag, there is no question about that. He sired Muskets and Katmogets here out of solid ewes. If Sabrina's lamb doesn't turn musket or grey, I would say the dam must carry extension. At this point, I would say give it some more time and see if the tell-tale Ag signs develop. I would love to see a photo too. ;-)

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Photos coming as soon as the camera is back in my hands. :)

Becky, I agree that Bombarde has got to be AgAb. I was just surprised to see a solid lamb pop out. I will certainly let this little guy develop before I make an assertive call on registration papers.

Since you mentioned it...What is extention and what does it do to patterns/color etc?

Becky Utecht said...

Extension dominance makes a genetically patterned sheep look like a solid black or moorit. Bill
Oh good, I can hardly wait for the photos! I recall that Bill Stearman got extension genes in his AI lambs last year and was baffled that the patterns didn't show up as anticipated. Then he figured it out. I think that both parents would have to carry ED genes for it to show though. Time will tell the story here. As far as tongue color, I do recall my Ag Grey flecket lamb having a spotted tongue. LOL. I don't normally look at tongues that much either.

Garrett808 said...

I don't know if there is/was any Extention before the importing of those AI rams in Canada. I know they have a lot it in England but I am not sure if the imports to the USA had it and if the "E" had been in the breed at that time in the UK.

So besides knowing that Bombarde is Ag/Ab Rai Min was a 'ho' and snuck around when u didn't know it!

Even my heterozygous Ag lambs (Ag/Aa or Ag/Ab or Ag/At) have all had sugar lips, although I have also heard that there are some without the sugar lips that are Ag. I would assume that a homozygous Ag/Ag would be that much quicker to change over?

When was Kavan put down? Would her breeding date for her lamb be in the time frame for his last few days? Does Unicorn carry Aa?

We had a black cow calve this past week to a grey (dilute) bull calf. Knowing that the black bull we had her with does not carry the dilute, nor does she.....we knew that the day before we sent her to pasture the yellow bull had broken through his wall AND tractor to get in with the girls. We never saw a breeding but lo and behold we sure have a dilute bull calf now! So its possible!! keep us posted!

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

I'm quite sure Rai Min was only exposed to Bombarde this past year. I checked my "sheep diary" a second time though.

All the rams were in a 6 foot tall round pen lined with 5 foot tall no climb woven horse fence until the breeding rams were delivered to their breeding paddocks. Kavan (not breeding) was in one lined round pen. Unicorn was in another lined round pen with his two ewes. Allister spent 15 days with his ewes and then was put down Dec 1st. Rai Min was in a barn stall separated from all rams that entire time. I put her in with Bombarde December 3 and December 6 I witnessed him on top of her several times. Meanwhile, Kavan and Unicorn were still in their round pens.

Rai Min lambed April 30th, exactly 147 days from Dec 6 when I saw her bred by Bombarde.

I don't know anything about the extention thing Becky brought up. Which AI rams brought it to North America? Bombarde is F2 Roban Dillon. Is RD part of that AI group you meant, Garrett?

I let momma and baby out of the jug for a short bit today. After seeing him in the bright sunlight, I feel confident this lamb is just a very dark moorit in color. I don't think he's modified or anything.

I sincerely hope this lamb just Ag's out for me. I'm not above learning just how dark colored an Ag lamb can look at birth.

Thanks for all the ideas on this lamb, folks. I had never even heard of this extension thing before this. And I didn't know Ag lambs could be born without sugar lips either. Sometimes Shetlands have so much variation it just makes my head spin. :)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Roban Dillon doesn't carry extension; if that is what is showing up in this lamb, it would have to come from Rai Min. Does she have any AI genetics? If not, then that lamb "has to" be a slow-changing Ag. I say "has to" with a twinkle in my eye, because these Shetlands with their tricky genetics have surprised far more experienced breeders than I!