A lot is made of the French Ouessant rams and it seems to me mainly because they have no wattles or at least the majority don’t. Personally I don’t see a problem with wattles except when it’s shearing time, most of the year they are hidden in wool
But before deciding on French rams (and I know they were the originals), if you read the History of the Ouessant which the prominent Dutch Judge Hans Slenkhous allowed me to reproduce in one of the newsletters. You will read that some very good French rams and ewes were imported to the Netherlands from some of the big French parks (today would be known as large country estates) and those Dutch Rams are, in my opinion very impressive whether they have wattles or not. They have great conformation. I have bred three generations of rams from the original famous George Clooney the 2nd of Cammall who was imported by the late James Graham from Hans Slenkhous. (See the photos which are at the end.)
These matings have passed on some excellent genes, of course it depends on what ewes you use, you should always choose the very best ewes you have either by their genes or by their physical looks (that’s something to do with genotype and phenotype) I’m not an expert on genetics, but on one occasion and only once, I did mate a half brother to a half sister – something I would not normally do or advocate unless there is a very good reason to do so, this time it doubled up some very good genes but we must all be aware that it can also double up bad ones too.
The result of this mating was a stunning ram which I exported to Jersey and he was the first Ouessant to land on that island, his son I still own, he is magnificent and he has a lovely calm temperament (well to humans) he is boss of the flock.
It is such a pity getting such a good genetic line going, that I have now have to give up breeding these lovely little sheep, however this ram is the sort is the sort of ram I have always wanted to breed. I hope he enjoys his work and that I can keep him as long as possible. He’s already booked out twice for the winter.
Below, I am showing pictures of four successive rams in the order of the original George Clooney 2nd of Cammal, his son New Forest Beech, then his son New Forest Hawthorn and his son New Forest Birch (last two photos) to show that the four generations have a very good consistency in type and conformation.
I started a journey to upgrade my Rams but unfortunately the journey has ended. Although we live in The New Forest in the country we do have a few neighbours on one side of the paddocks and one of them objects every lambing time to the ewes bleating to their lambs, I know it was annoying but I suppose enough is enough so no more lambs and it’s the end of a great genetic line for me.
Author: Marie Clarke