Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meet our new Ram

It's been a while since I blogged about our sheep, but I have some exciting news to share about our flock. Every few years we get a new ram on our farm. As I've mentioned before we have had purebred Shropshire Sheep on the same family farm since 1919.  And while the size of the flock may have changed over the years the quality of sheep and attention to breed integrity have not changed.  Every fall around the first of September we turn the ram in with the ewes.  Sheep are seasonal breeders; meaning the ewes (female sheep) fertility increases as the length of daylight decreases.  So without further ado... allow me to introduce to you.... Dark Horse!

Dark Horse is from a farm in Ohio.  He is a yearling (one year old) and he has been to a couple of shows and even won a couple of banners.  If you haven't already figured it out, we are quite pleased with our new purchase.

Some things we look for in a ram for our flock are breed characteristics.  We raise Shropshires which are a medium sized, dark faced breed, with wool on their legs, poll (top of head) and what we can pencil lines (wool on the sides of their nose.)  It's important to our family to keep our Shropshires looking like traditional Shropshires.  Next we look for a ram with a good frame.  This includes straight legs, a straight back, good extension up through the shoulders and neck, and a high tail dock setting.  We also check for the animals meaty areas like a long loin and thick, muscular back legs as those are the two quality cuts of meat areas and we do raise these sheep to be sold for meat.  Lastly, and probably most importantly.... my grandfather used to say... "when a ram stands naturally, you should be able to roll a bowling ball between it's back legs."  So it doesn't matter how great the ram is is all the other categories, if I can't get a bowling ball through, then I wouldn't come home with him.    
As you can see our little Shepherdess MacchiOTTo is becoming quite the farm girl.  When she went out to see Dark Horse for the first time and was not scared of the sheep one bit.  (Although, I'm not quite sure what the sheep thought of her.)  She was reaching her head and hand through the gate to try and pet them.  She pointed at them a lot and kept saying. "Baaa."  And in true farm girl fashion she even squatted down to get a better look at their feet and legs, as you can see in the picture above.  We are all excited to see the new lamb crop we will get our of Dark Horse come late February/early March.

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