The farm house

The farm house

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embarrassed Yes, But Educated Nonetheless

The frustration continues but add surprise to the list also! On the weekend as I had mentioned, Trixie was chasing Fingal around and acting very much like a ram. This behavior continued and from the onset, the fact that she had horns bothered me. They are quite big for a ewe. It does happen in this breed just like you may have polled rams. Some of us breed for these characteristics and sometimes the opposite occurs. It's like that.

So assisted by my support group of Shetland sheep breeders on Facebook-yes I actually consider these folks to be very knowledgeable and helpful, so I do trust the majority of the information and recommendations provided from this source.

If you are squeamish with anatomical vocabulary, this may not be a post for you. However, one must describe what I saw in order to explain how I came about the conclusion that Beatrix aka Trixie is a ram and not a ewe. You may be snorting and thinking to yourselves, as a breeder how could I make this mistake? Easy-it happens. What is more complicated is how it happened and what will happen next...

So when lambs are born, we check for "buds"-where the horns start to grow and "balls" testes in the scrotum which at birth is highly visible. It is common for lamb ewes to have little bumps on their heads where horns might grow but they are not as prominent as with a ram lamb. Such was the case with Trixie. Also, Trixie has no scrotum. So, I thought, a ram and a ewe.

Trixie's horns started to grow. I thought that was interesting as I've never had that before and was never produced by the breeding of the same couple at any time...Breeding season is here and Trixie is sensitive to all the ewes.-best investigate.

So, On Monday, I braved the wind and went out to the barn, caught Trixie, flipped her over and sure enough, no scrotum but testicles, 2, one small and another even smaller tucked under the tail and no scrotum. Well, to ensure no inbreeding should occur after this point, I carried him to the outside/backyard are where Lothario is with 2 ewes- no relation to any and the gals aren't registered anyway. As I carry the sheep to the pen it bleats. I've never heard Trixie bleat ever as Bertie was way more dominant. It was a most definite macho bleat. But, what is unknown is if Trixie aka Trickster can breed?? What can I do with this sheep? He does not fit in with my breeding program nor would I use him because of the genetic issues; the horns are starting to grow in towards the head, can't be registered(good thing I held off on that) and castration would have to be a surgical procedure-all this and it's not his fault... So a decision will have to be made on the fate of Trickster.

I have learned thanks to hatching all the eggs that the more you do, the more you see good and bad. It's a numbers thing. In my 2+ years of caring and breeding, I've had some interesting experiences, not all good, not all bad. It's just that: experience. Some day I may be that person that people call when they are not sure of some issue their sheep are having. Meanwhile, I read, ask questions and let the sheep do their stuff.

I will wait a bit longer before pairing up the breeding couples and only time will tell if Trickster will have sired any lambs. It will be determined by lamb birth dates. And when the new batch are born, every inch will get a thorough going over, especially the dangly bits!!
Trickster on left, Bertie on right


  1. I don't eat meat but I assume you do. It seems to me that sending the Trickster to freezer camp is the only real option, unless he has very fine wool that makes a surgical castration and regular horn trims a viable option. Me, I have all the fine-fleeced fiber wethers I can house; eventually they out-number the ewes if you can't sell and don't eat them.

  2. I don't eat them and he has nice fleece-beautiful moorit color. Yes you are right about the number game...This spring should be more ewes than rams if my stats are correct within my flock.Fingers crossed. No more rams unless it is something spectacular!