Ultrasounds and other veterinary observations



The veterinarians from UC Davis VMTH were here on Monday. The VMTH sponsors the State Fair Nursery so they will come here to ultrasound ewes. I will be breeding 3 or 4  ewes at the same time as all the others are lambing. This fall, while I was breeding ewes to 6 different rams I also had a non-breeding group. Unfortunately, one of the rams got in with that group on the last day of my breeding season. I gave the 2 ewes he bred the sheep equivalent of the morning-after pill, so Monday was the day to see if it had worked.



No! Shelby is pregnant with a single and Mary has triplets. I think this is the photo of triplets. (If you must know, I can’t always tell what I’m seeing in these.) By the way, a lamb at 42 days gestation is about the size of a gummy bear. That’s not something that you find in a veterinary text, but vet students have pointed out the relationship to their teachers.






Here is one that I could see. There is a large (relatively) single lamb here in the middle just under that dark line. (It doesn’t show up in this photo as well as it did seeing it on the screen.)

While the vets were here I showed them a wool sample from the fleece of a ram lamb, Presley.

DSC_6733It isn’t all that obvious in this photo, but can you see that distinct change in color and texture at the bottom of the locks? It is not weak at that point, but the fleece definitely changes color. That is the cut end, so the change occurred a couple of months before shearing. I thought that maybe this related to selenium deficiency or some other mineral issue. We looked at the ram.

DSC_5119This is Presley, taken in mid-September. One observation of mine is that he won’t register as a lilac ram, but his fleece is the brown/gray of a lilac and definitely not black and white. (In this photo the dark wool just shows sun-bleaching, but when you look at the fleece sample you can see that is is not black.) However his facial markings look black. I think this is what some people are calling a chocolate lilac.DSC_7089 This is Presley now. Take a look at his horns.

DSC_7091I hadn’t noticed before, but all 4 horns have a ridge in the same place and the vets wondered if this related to the same conditions that caused the change in the fleece sample. When you look back at the first photo of Presley from September 17 you see that his horns are smooth. I posted a video of Presley taken September 24 that shows what I think is one of the many possible symptoms of bluetongue. The last two photos were taken 3 months after that. Did the illness result in the change in horn growth and the fleece observations? It is not any matter of earth-shaking importance, but I find it an interesting idea. My simple question about the fleece has led to a lot of other inquiries.

We looked at the rest of the rams while the vets were here.

DSC_7098 This is Larry, who was breeding a friend’s flock and just came home. The friend told me that she thought Larry had blue tongue also. Note the ridges on his horns.

The reason that I asked the vets about Presley’s fleece is that I had remembered seeing another fleece with the same discoloration. I had taken a photo of it at the time.

DSC_6663 Ginseng is also a lilac lamb and her fleece shows the color change at the same place as does Presley’s.

I have no answers yet (except that Mary and Shelby won’t be going to the fair), but I’m going to examine the rest of the fleeces as I sort through them and I think I’ll pay more attention to horn growth after this. I’ll report back if the vets give me any answers.


7 thoughts on “Ultrasounds and other veterinary observations

  1. Very interesting post. I’ve seen a similar change in lilac locks (but never in black locks). I’ve thought maybe a mineral deficiency.
    What I call chocolate lilacs have chocolate facial and leg markings. I’ve had a few with brown fleeces and black face/leg. I don’t what to call them. They aren’t black and they aren’t lilac (to my eyes).

    • I was thinking that it was just something with the lilac fleeces and I wonder about selenium deficiency because I know there was a problem with that also. That brown fleece is sure pretty, but it would be nice to have a name for it and know more about the heritability.

      • The “brown” sheep that I’ve had did not produce lilac when bred to those lilacs that showed lilac (either brown or gray) on their faces and legs. There was some discussion on one of the yahoo lists about this sort of abrupt color change, although not about Jacobs specifically. Many breeders thought it was genetic and were trying to figure the genetics description. I’ve got a lilac ram now that shows that color change, but only in one area on his neck.

  2. I’ll be interested to see what the vets decide.
    We had one ram lamb, Hawthorn, that has just the coloring you described. Black on face but fleece has always been lighter. No halo around the eyes though. ???
    We will have ultrasounds next week. As first time breeders, it should be fun!

  3. That’s interesting! What about copper deficiency? I think Pat Coleby’s book cites that historically some flockmasters used to keep a black sheep with their white flock, so they could notice if it turned rusty-colored from too little copper, as kind of a harbinger of flock mineral deficiency (before people became skittish about feeding copper at all). Her book cites copper as important for hoof health. I did a quick search and found a warning on Purina’s website not to give sheep ration to deer, or the low copper will impair antler growth.

    Looking forward to hearing what you learn!

  4. OK, this is all new to me – I’m still stuck wondering about those extra horns. It’s all very interesting – I love the image of “Larry, who was breeding a friend’s flock and just came home.” Glad to be home? Sorry to be home? : ) Anyway, it’s very interesting and I may know nothing about goats but I do get the connection with the horn ridges & wool discoloration, and I hope you figure out what causes it. Good detective work! (And thanks for stopping by and following!)

    • These are Jacob sheep and they can have 2 or 4 horns. Larry’s homecoming. Hmmm. He was with a bunch of ewes and came home to living with the bachelors. He has a manger full of hay and I think that he is one of the bosses in the ram pen. He’s probably forgotten the ewes by now.

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