did that ram get that ewe??

Laura wrote: “I’d love to know the variables that are at work in choosing which ewes go with which rams, other than how closely they are related.”

This has worked for me for years. First separate the rams into non-adjoining paddocks. I have a  common holding pen that opens into six different paddocks.  This works well as I can put the ewes I want in the holding pen (my daughter calls it my airlock – and the function is similar). Open the gate to the ewe population. Let half the ewes in – put them in with one of the adult rams. Open gate again, let the other half in and put with the other adult ram.

Okay, I’m joking about chosing ram/ewe pair ups by that method 🙂  Although, I can usually get the ewes I want to come into the holding pen by knowing which ones will rush through and which ones will hold back along with a bit of fancy gate work. I am lazy – if I don’t have to drag sheep, I  don’t do it. There are plenty of times when I do have to drag sheep. I’m saving my energy for those times.

I do alot of paper breeding to see what the crosses look like on paper. In most cases, I am dealing with lines I am familiar with, so I’m looking at the strength and weaknesses of the lines. I am not against inbreeding on occasion and will breed closely related animals together for various reasons at times. Did you realize that if you have a sheep with an inbreeding coefficient of 37.5%, which is about the equivalent of breeding a ram to a ewe, then breeding him to a daughter from that union, and then breeding him to his daughter/granddaughter, when you breed that sheep to an unrelated partner, the resulting lamb has an IC of 0%.? I am not advocating inbreeding or linebreeding on a regular basis and I do look at the IC on every potential cross. It’s a consideration when chosing breeding pairs – but just one consideration. It’s overall inbreeding of the entire breed that threatens preservation/conservation more than the inbreeding of one animal or even one flock.  The rule of thumb that I have always heard is to keep your IC at 5% or below and not to breed animals with a common ancestor in the first three generations.  It’s a good guideline. It’s not a rule. Breeding closer is best done if you have a good knowledge of the background animals and like to eat sheep.

My friend, Katrina, from Chicory Lane, talked once about wanting to do a webpage with the crosses she had picked along with the why she had. Katrina isn’t raising Jacobs anymore, but a bunch of us are fortunate enough to still have Chicory Lane in our flocks.

I’m starting a “why”club and hope some of you will join in.

I’ll start and add a few more as I think of it…


Patchwork Macgver and Patchwork Twinky were posed so perfectly for this,  that I have to start with them.

The first glance pretty much says it all as to why on this cross. Twinky has a beautiful fleece and strong well swept laterals.  But she could sure use a little more in the way of facial and leg markings.  And I’m hoping that Macgyver will pass on his backswept top horns.  He’s got a cleaner britch than she does, although I don’t get too focused on britch. Both are the primitive type that I prefer.


The IC on this mating is 4.5% . Three of the four grandparents go back to Hardy Hill Leo, who contributes 21.9% percentage of blood – making him almost as a strong a contributor as a grandparent (who is 25%).


I’ve owned two Leo daughters, Craft’s Ruby’s Belle (dam and great-granddam of Twinky) and Craft’s Praline (granddam of Macgyver). I like the line and I’ve had it a long time, so feel pretty comfortable linebreeding Leo.

After spending most of the week moving panels around to accomodate my bright idea of adding three ram lambs to the breeding lineup, giving me five breeding groups (and only 16 ewes!), I’m pretty excited about seeing what the three baby rams will produce.   Dave built a nifty little shelter out of some cut off pieces of panels that is just big enough for three sheep and easy for me to carry around. With a tarp tied on, it makes a simple, portable shelter for one of the baby ram groups.

Despite having been thinking about snakes lately, seeing more snakes this year than I ever had, and even posting a blog entry about snakes, yesterday I did the one thing that you should never do. I picked up a wooden pallet from the ground with my hand.  I know better and I always flip a pallet with a pitchfork. Always – except yesterday. And I’ve never come across  a snake when I flipped a pallet – until yesterday. And it was a copperhead.  It was in the high forties yesterday morning and the snake was slow. It was at the far end of the pallet and not the end where I had put my hand. Copperheads are actually pretty lazy snakes and don’t normally jump across a few feet to strike. They do, however, strike if you stick your hand in their faces. I learned a lesson, but at least it wasn’t a painful lesson!


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6 Responses to Why??

  1. mudranch says:

    Interesting Linda and a great idea… I’ll have to play along when I can. 😉

  2. I’d love to see everyone’s pairings/reasons… Even though I’m not breeding (on purpose) over here, I’m fascinated by the Jacob characteristics. Copperheads? Not so much…

  3. farmgirlarts says:

    Thanks SO much, Linda! Just what I was looking for. I will be looking at Kenleighacres blog to see her match-ups, too.

    This is crazy! I dreamt about being bitten by a copperhead early this morning. I rushed around screaming “copperhead bite, help!”, watching my finger turn black until I took some anti-histamines. So glad you weren’t bitten!

  4. What a wonderful post, more please! I am relatively new to Jacobs and far from other breeders, so this topic is very helpful to me. This should be a topic for the JSBA newsletter or at the AGM.

  5. I will be looking forward to seeing if you get what you’re hoping to out of your crossings! (not to mention all those cute little Jacob lambs)…:)

    EWWW, Copperheads! I like snakes in general, but probably because we have no poisonous snakes on this side of the mountains. Glad you’re ok!

  6. I will definitely play along, I’ll have to decide what pair to do first. I love reading about the different reasons people make breeding decisions.

    I’m glad to hear that the Copperhead didn’t get you – very scary!

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