We have only been raising sheep for 12 years 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 (the first ewe pictured below) 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 was of traditional style, a son of "Ralph" and out of then 13 year old "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" did 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 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. Otis, to use. 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. We retired Otis and kept many nice ewes of his. Then a long search for our next ram led us to Dana Gochenour of Woolly Hollow in Virginia. Arriving late in 2018 Woolly Hollow 0253 "Clay" had a big job to do last fall. Not even a yearling yet, he successfully bred every open ewe! And we are loving the qualities he has passed on to our 2019 lambs.
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.