It's no secret that I love, love, love spots, always have, expecially the recessive brown based spots. As soon as I found out that spotted Shetland existed, I set about buying a few to add spotted lines to my flock. Years ago, believe it or not, spots were under attack as not being good fiber animals. Spot lovers were called fad breeders, and some people wanted "broken patterned sheep" forced into a sub-registry. I recall sharing my excitement about my first loud flecket lamb ever, and getting flamed for it!
Instead of being discouraged by the haters, it made us more passionate than ever to keep breeding for spots. The fall- out birthed a seperate yahoo group, started by Stephen Rouse, as a safe haven for us spot lovers to share our love of spotted Shetlands.
Years ago, spotted sheep were a bit pricey, even less typy ones were selling for $450 for black based ones, brown based were $500 upward. If a brown based Shetland had so much as a smirslet marking, they were scooped up with a quickness by spot lovers.
Like any rare, challenging trait with high demand and low supply, culling took a backseat for a while. Early spotties were plagued with extreme cowhocks, long heavy wooly tails, early iset, and very coarse fleece. Once the market became saturated just a few years ago, people became more selective in their purchasing and began culling heavier. There are some real nice spotties out there now, and it is my dream to breed my own line that will rival any solid moorit in quality. I am years away from that, but Cleo is a part of that beginning.
Cleo came into being after I obtained a scurred ram lamb from the Bluff Country, Kokomo. He was brown, spotted, and carried polled. That provided me with a good start. :) I put him over a bunch of my spot carrier ewes, including Justalit'l Lacey. Now Lacey was my very highest quality ewe, puchased for the spots that lurked underneath her non-descript grey pattern. Her conformation is exceptional, her mature fleece microned at 24 and felt like cobweb in its softness. Sometimes we roll the dice and get something to be proud of, and little Cleopatra was my dream come true out of this cross!
Little Cleo wasn't perfect, but her conformation was better than a lot of my spotties. She has survived two years of harsh culling here. She has a decent back end, tail is okay, dishy head with no bone knobs, and at two years of age she still has no iset. She isn't fine fleeced, but I have hopes of getting softer lambs out of her by breeding her to better rams. Her two year old fleece microned at 25.7 SD 8.0, CV 31.2%.
This is Cleo's lamb from 2008, Lil'Country Chamois. Chamois is a smirslet kat by Silvio, carries modified and will be bred this year, although I'm still undecided who to put her under just yet. I'm awaiting her 18 month micron.
This year, Cleo produced Antonio "Tony", by Eragon. Tony is pictured in the top photo. He will be test bred this fall, and if he performs for me and I like his get, I plan on using him more heavily in 2010. I'm awaiting his micron test results as well. I do think Tony is a half poll, so he won't be staying her forever, but he'll give us a nice injection of color before he moves on.
Cleo herself will be waltzing with Eragon again, with high hopes for another brown based Aa flecket.