Mirkface

Marianne (Dashwood) lambed a single on 3/28 .. that makes her little boy 10 days old in this photo. There are 11 recognized fleece colors in Shetland sheep (see discussions at the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association and at the Shetland Sheep Society). Although the determination of color in these animals is a straightforward matter (white versus gray versus brown versus black, for example) the taxonomy of markings is most definitely not (again, see discussions at NASSA and at the Shetland Sheep Society). The 30 color patterns recognized by these breed associations represent a dizzying array with quite colorful names to match. These range from Bersugget (animals having irregular patches of different color) .. to Katmoget (animals having a light colored body with a dark belly and legs) .. to Yuglet (animals having color around eyes which differs from that on the remainder of body). While Marianne is the only pure white animal currently in our flock, her ram lamb is katmoget and mirkface (with white and dark patches on the face). These color labels were originally used by shepherds of the Shetland Islands to describe their sheep; the names are mostly derived from the original Icelandic.

You may have noticed, in this or in another of the images of sheep which appear on this blog, that our animals carry identification tags in both ears. Ewes have a white tag in the left ear which identifies them as enrolled in the Scrapie Flock Certification Program, wethers and rams have this white tag in the right ear. Purebred shetland ewes, wethers, and rams have a yellow tag in the other ear while crossbred ewes, weathers, and rams sport a blue tag in the off ear. This second tag has the same ID number as the white one but in larger type (the numbers on the white tag are far too small to be read at a distance). Lambs have a single tag (girls on the left, boys on the right) which wraps about the ear. This will be replaced with a proper Scrapie tag when the flock is reviewed and culled before breeding come fall.

Marianne had been sheared a day or two before this photo was taken – doesn’t she look snappy?

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