Friday, August 9, 2013

Horns! Where did they come from?

Although we have purebred Katahdin sheep and Buckeye chickens, we sometimes have lambs and chicks that make us question, "Who's your daddy?"

     This year, we have a four-month-old wether who is sporting horns that keep growing and growing.

Our other lambs have no horns.

That wether had to reach back into his family tree to find a horned relative.

The Katahdins breed, like many other breeds, is a conglomeration of other sheep breeds.

Those who are interested in genetics and livestock breeding can learn about the history of the Katahdin breed. I found it quite fascinating. In the 1960s, when the market for wool had plummeted, a Maine man was determined to develop a hair sheep with specific characteristics. To do this, he incorporated several sheep breeds.

When I read his story, I'm amazed at how quickly he developed the breed, and left to wonder what the breed would have become had he not died of a heart attack just 19 years into his work.

Our flock shows glimpses of his past work. Sometimes, we'll have a lamb that sports some wool fibers -- evidence of the wool sheep influence of the Katahdin. This year, the lamb with horns shows the Wiltshire Horn sheep influence. In the past, we've had a few lambs with nubs, but these are the biggest set of horns that I've seen on one of our lambs.

Although horns aren't preferred, this guy could be registered as a Katahdin. His mother and father are two fine registered examples of the breed. But he will not. Instead, market awaits him.

Now, if he were a ewe lamb that was perfect in every other way, then I'd have to think about keeping her. Alas, that is the subject of another blog.

For now, I'll spend my time marveling at the lamb's horns... and telling other lambs not to make fun of him.

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