Research in Cross Breeding with Jacobs
The Breed Promotion Committee is developing several areas of work aimed at increasing the popularity of Jacob sheep. While most people have stories of how good their sheep are, they are just that: stories, anecdotes, individual successes and opinions. If you look at the web sites of other breeds of sheep, they too are full of such stories.
The natural question relating to the benefit of a particular breed is, 'how do you know?' To support our breed properly and pursuade all sectors of the sheep world of the benefits of Jacobs, we need real facts and figures.
We have designed a data sheet with the co-operation of Eblex that should give us the minimum information needed to analyse the performance of cross breeding Jacobs in comparison to other breeds and also in comparison to pure bred Jacobs. If possible we would like to collect information relating to this year's lambing, but if not then we are asking if it could be planned into next year's lambing.
As one thinks about the possibilities all sorts of variations come into play. Which breed would it be best to cross with? Would you use a Jacobs ram on other breeds or another breed onto a Jacob ewe? What about the complications of keeping other rams, especially for those with limited capacity? What are the possible effects on the fleece? The number of questions grow the more you think about it. But to actively consider cross breeding, the results must be positive in terms of carcass finish - weight, confirmation, grade and above all to be practical to be worth the effort. Whatever the answers we need to back them up with data.
If we talk in ideal terms, with the best quality of data, then all the lambs in the flock should be managed in the same way, have access to similar levels of feed for about the same time. If they are managed differently, then it would be very useful to identify the groups - eg. group 1, group 2 etc., so the non-genetic differences in the management could be observed.Also we need a control, that is data from pure bred Jacobs, ideally from the same flock and same management system.
We are appealing to the membership of the Society to help us in this research. Can you help us get this information? If you can help or know someone who can help, then please let me know so we have an idea of who and how many are involved. Also if you have any questions please contact me.