I would love to hear from anyone who knows how we are to keep Ouessants below the breed standard height.
The trouble is that like humans which years ago were much shorter than we are today.
Access for all modern people to ample food has meant that on average today we are much more robust and taller than even a hundred years ago.
I suppose we can say that in a hundred years, it is roughly four generations. In sheep, say in just fifty years they would have maybe twenty five or more generations. So, you can see in fifty years time it would be impossible to keep Ouessants to the size of their original counterparts on that windswept barren island.
As far as I can see, the only way to keep them small is to emulate the conditions which kept them small in the first place. This means limited forage, tough living conditions and a helping of natural breeding, such as a few brother sister matings, and a very limited gene pool
So what have we got today? A lot of pampered sheep, given sheep nuts, grass to gorge on, hay in the winter, a shelter. Oh, I’m as guilty of all this as anyone, and of course we mustn’t breed anything remotely related together.
Ok we can choose to breed small to small, that’s very sensible, but first you have to find a mature ram that is not taller than the breed standard, then that must be set in his genes, otherwise he could just be a one-off small ram, then likewise in the ewe, this is very desirable, but not very practical.
Its quite sad to buy and breed sheep, which when measured at maturity, (after you have looked after them waiting for them to reach breeding age) are too tall, what do you do then? Serious breeders don’t want them.
So please tell me….. how we are to keep these little sheep little?
This is only my view and not the view of the Society.
Author: Marie Clarke