I think people learn better when they can experience a visual to explain what's going on. Needless to say, I'm excited about this post after I was able to take some photos that show the difference between the generations of F1, F2, and F3. Fred and I gathered these three, the grandmother, mother, and daughter from the same bloodlines and waited patiently to get pictures at angles where you can really see the change from one generation to the next. Putting them together and analyzing the difference really made us appreciate the breed-up program and how it's helping breeders attain their goals of owning a Purebred Valais Blacknose sheep. It's not only a great way to attain your goal but it's by far the least expensive. We know it's hard but in this scenario, patience is a virtue.
Before anybody decides to comment, " You docked their tail" or "They don't have horns", we are fully aware. We've made the choice to dock the tails of any sheep we keep for the breed-up program until they reach purebred status. This is a personal choice based on our experience with health concerns. We've also docked the tail of the F3 (after the picture). As for the horns, we're actually excited about this. No, an F5 without horns would not be classified as a Purebred, but we're OK with that. We started this genetic line with a Suffolk cross on purpose. We know the structure and soundness of the Suffolk cross, as well as the blackface, legs, and wide front. We also know through research there is a possibility of horns in future generations. The only way to find out was to do it, and we did. Wouldn't it be amazing if our F4s or F5s had horns? We're excited to find out!
So, let's start with the genetic line here. The F1 is the daughter of a Suffolk cross foundation ewe and Solway Bank Extra Special. The F2 is the daughter of the F1 and Parkdale Crackers, and the F3 is the daughter of the F2 and Parkdale Dart. In this picture are the grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter all sired by different full-blood Valais Blacknose rams.
The major difference between the F1 from a Suffolk Cross is her wool. Her elongated black face and all-black legs remain consistent with the Suffolk crossbreed. With the F2 you begin seeing a change in the markings with white wool starting to cascade down the face and the legs beginning to have a prominent mixture of white and black wool. We're surprised about the overall size of the F2, she's smaller than we expected. The F3 is really starting to look like a purebred. The markings are starting to become more defined and her wool is exceptional.
For this back view, you can see a significant difference in the markings on the back legs from generation to generation. This is also a great picture to notice the progression in the wool.
The reason we chose a Suffolk cross was for the soundness and structure, the even top, and the wide base. We think this photo really shows the result of that choice. The wide rear, the straight top, and the soundness are evident in this picture. The change in the wool is obvious too.
We love this picture to show the changes in the structure of the head. The head of the F1 has all the attributes of a Suffolk cross. You can see a drastic change in the head from the F1 to the F2. The F2 has a Roman nose and looks more like a Valais Blacknose than a Suffolk cross. As for our little F3, the head has changed even more so, plus the markings as a Valais are more prominent. You can't see it in the picture but she has black wool where her horns would be. Maybe future horns in her offspring? We'll see.
So there you have it. Three generations of results from the breed-up program with a Suffolk cross foundation ewe. We know many breeders have chosen a different path and that's great. At this stage of the process, we don't think there is a wrong choice. It's the individual breeder's choice. We just wanted to share with you what our choices produced so others could see and make their decisions in the breed-up based on others' experiences. We're all learning together.