We haven't been raising sheep very long but have wonderful mentors that are leading us through this new, exciting adventure. Here are key components of our breeding program:
Our Ewes We consider them the most important aspect of our farm, the girls in the flock in this instance. We are selecting healthy ewes that fit our interpretation of the Tunis Standard. We started with Tunis ewes from a local breeder and have been adding new stock and making replacements as we build the flock of our dreams.
Our Rams Weighing in heavily in importance, the rams are of course responsible for 50% of the traits of each lamb from every ewe. And since there will always be a minimum of rams, care must be taken to choose only the very best. The ram we used for the 2010 lambs was Ralph, he was young and unproven when we brought him from New York. We are thrilled with the lambs we had from him and have kept several ewes. So we sold Ralph and chose a nice ram from Sonshine Farm to sire the 2011 lambs. Troy added nice traits to the flock but was a bit too aggressive for us to want to handle. We sold Troy and kept Urlich, a ram from one of our original Tunis ewes.
Urlich is traditional style, a son of Ralph and out of Mudpie. We also had several nice 2011 more show type ram lambs that we kept for breeding. Valentino, Varney and Vigor did very good, but we did have later than normal lambs.
For 2012 we kept Vigor and purchased a super ram lamb from Darling Tunis in Ohio. "Wooster" has been doing a great job, he sired the best of our lambs for 2013, producing many sets of twins. We used him exclusively for the 2013-14 breeding. We are again very happy with what he produced and kept some daughters.
We have kept a son of one of our favorite ewes, Ferm's Queeny, and UF Vigor. We used Xerxes as a great outcross on the daughters we kept from Wooster for the 2014-15 breeding season. We followed up using Wooster on those that weren't bred to Xerxes.
We kept daughters of both Xerxes and Wooster in 2015 and had the opportunity to sell Xerxes. Loving the lambs that Wooster had been producing we used him exclusively again for the 2015-2016 breeding season.
Having a flock now that is built up of mostly Wooster daughters we finally had to let him go. But we did trade a Xerxes son for one of Wooster's three year old sons to use in the future. Otis had proven himself with a local breeder and they needed a new boy so they could keep Otis daughters. We also added another ram lamb, Stevie, from Darling Tunis. We have had great success with Louise Dunham's bloodlines crossing into ours.
In 2017, we sold Stevie after getting a few lambs from him and kept Bill, one of our 2017 Otis sons. Otis sired the majority of the 2018 spring lambs, with Bill cleaning up the flock and producing some late lambs. It is time to sell Otis now, we have kept many nice ewes of his, and we could let Bill go as well. We are very excited that we will be adding a handsome young ram from Dana Gochenour this fall. You may see him being shown until then!
The Results - Lambs Depending on what a breeder is focusing on, sheep are bred for several purposes. To eat... for wool... for milk... as vegetation control... as herding animals... for petting zoos... for breeding stock to preserve the breed... Tunis are a multi-purpose breed and we will strive to produce for multi-markets.