Here is my reply to one recent e-mail:
"To answer your question, if you were to add a genetic half poll to your flock of hornless ewes, you'll be doing exactly what I did in 2004. That's where I started.
That first year, I didn't get any polled ram lambs. I do believe I did get one scurred ram lamb.
Second year, I got one polled ram lamb. The next year, I got a few more polled, some scurred, just a few full horns. The last few years I started getting about half smooth polled, half large scurs. Maybe 1 or 2 horns.
So you'll get scurs on your ram lambs. You'll get lots of scurs, and you'll be getting them for a while. :)
How will those scurs grow? Any way and every way. They can be tiny or large, narrow or thick, long or short & stubby. They can grow fast, or grow slow. They can break off and bleed, they can break off and not bleed. They can break off and grow back, or break off never to be seen again. Some are more pleasing to the eye than others, and yes some will grow fatal (ahem...just like horns).
I'm 5 years into it, and I fully expect to get some scurs this year, but it seems every year I get less and less of them, as I select and retain poll carrier ewes.
It takes years to breed your own bloodline. It does not happen overnight. Anything worthwhile takes work, time, and a lot of patience.
I expect it to take perhaps a decade to get my flock full polled, maybe longer. So it's something you have to want, and you have to be willing to work at it. You have to be willing to cull if you are breeding sheep anyway.
The way I see it, only 10% of one's ram crop, horned or polled, is worthy of being a flock sire. The rest of that ram crop, that 90%, have to be pet wethers or go to market. So it doesn't bother me to ship rams to market, I'm used to it. I even ship ewes to market!
I've been keeping a yearly log of my work towards a polled flock here:
That will give you an idea of the work and thought that's going into doing what I'm doing. :)
Good news is, if are person starts breeding for polled and changes his/her mind, one simply has to buy a horned ram and reverse the process. Cull ewes producing scurred ram lambs, keep using horned rams for each subsequent generation, breed the poll gene out. So far, everyone I know of who's "gone polled" hasn't gone back to horned stock.
The decision to go polled is something each person needs to think about, and go into it with the knowledge you have to cull some of your ram lambs.
Are you on the yahoo group for polled Shetlands? I've got photo albums that show each years lamb crop and their scur growth."
I'm sharing this because I think it's important. There is a bit of "opinion evidence", mis-information, bias, rumor, and unfortunately a lie or two spread about polled Shetland rams. It has been that way since Tami Mulder dared to think outside the box and use the polled Bramble Dixen as a flock sire.
If getting flamed builds character, then Tami has lots of character. :)
If a fellow breeder wants to "go polled", I want them armed with the knowledge to make an informed, intelligent decision. If anyone has any questions, I welcome your e-mail. I'm not a "know it all", I don't claim to have all the answers, but I'll help you if I can.
And if you happen to love a majectic set of horns on your rams, I'll be here on the sidelines to cheer you on and "oh" and "ahh" over your lovely lamb photos. We're all in this together. :)