Sheep Color Genetics – Links

I want to begin this post by saying that I am in no way an expert on genetics! I have the rudimentary knowledge that one gains from several college biology courses.  I am just learning how to classify my sheep’s genetics.  In my quest to discover more about sheep color genetics, I have found a wealth of information on the internet published by Shetland, Gotland, Icelandic, Finn and other sheep breeders.  I will include the sites on the Links page.

The first link is by Shetland breeder Lanette Scapillatto – Color Genetics of Icelandic, Shetland, and Finnsheep.  This information is based on work by Stefan Adalsteinsson, PhD in 1970 and the World Congress of Coloured Sheep in 1989.  Click on the site for specifics.  The information on this site is clearly presented.

The next link is the fantastic information on color genetics presented by Shetland breeders, Linda Wendelboe and Kathy Baker.  In addition to genetics information, their site has a wealth of information and photos on the Shetland breed, patterns, fiber, etc.

At Tongue River Farm, Susan Mongold raises Icelandic sheep.  She wrote an article on  Color Genetics in Icelandic Sheep.  Her article was published in The Shepherd Magazine in June 1997.

Franna Pitt, PhD raises Shetlands and Gotland sheep at Ever Ranch.  She has published a detailed paper entitled Colored Genetics of Gotland Sheep in North America.  I have only begun to study this paper and it is excellent.

Franna’s paper pointed me to Deer Run Sheep Farm‘s website which has a paper written by D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, on Color Genetics in Coopworth Sheep.  Even if you are not interested in genetics, check out this website because it is packed full of fiber, farm and website design related links!  A big thank-you to the Martha and Jim McGrath for their fabulous site!

And finally, Yahoo has a group on sheep color genetics.  There are frequent and interesting discussions on color genetics of various breeds of sheep on this Yahoo group.

The Finn lambs are growing nicely and starting to fill out their jackets.

Based on what I have gleaned from this genetic information, I would list triplet Finnsheep ewe lamb Eeva (left) as Aa/Aa Bb/Bb Ss/Ss.  Underneath their jackets, both lambs are solid color.  Her ram lamb brother (on right with dirt on his head) is all white from a spot carrying brown sire and spot carrying white dam.  If that was the only information I had, along with knowing that white is a pattern, I would list him as Awt/A? B?/Bb S?/Ss.  Comments from the more experienced shepherds are welcome!

I hope you find these links as informative as I did.  In one of my upcoming posts, I will list the rationale for the genetics of our Finn lambs.  In the meantime, we are in the midst of a lovely Minnesota day!  I have a vegetable garden to work on and lambs to be whethered and vaccinated.  Have a great day!

One response to this post.

  1. I have read Franna’s excellent article several times and just read it again while looking at my 40% Gotland lamb. Fascinating, but it will take me a while to understand it all clearly. Thank you for the other links…I will check them all out.



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