News from Canada

Alberta, Canada BLU member Jody McLean shares a photo of some of her 2 month old lambs produced by LAI from Myfyrian(B10) Blue Dragon E+, owned by Matt Drummond. Right now, this semen is only available for use in Canada, but the Blue Alliance has also purchased semen, and is working toward getting it imported to the US for the use of our membership. Jody is thrilled with her lambs. I can see why – look at the muscling on these 2 young rams!

This is a photo shared by Matt Drummond of Blue Dragon as a ram lamb. The breeder is Merfyn Roberts of the well regarded Myfyrian flock.

And here is Blue Dragon as an adult, being classified Elite Plus at the 2010 Penrith Progeny Show.

Of interest from the British BFL association

We are holding a meeting for those interested in hearing about the Bluefaced Leicester Association Performance Recording Scheme and our new “Performance Mule” initiative for the promotion of Mules sired by high index Bluefaced Leicester sires.

The “Performance Mule” initiative will help us supply the ever growing market for commercial ewes sired by high index rams that we are losing out on at the present time to our competitors.

This meeting is taking place at The Auctioneer, Borderway Mart, Carlisle on Tuesday 14th February, 2012 at 7.00p.m.

The main focus of the meeting will be a power point presentation given by Sam Boon of Signet this will be to show and discuss the benefits of Performance Recording in Bluefaced Leicester’s. We anticipate an increased demand for performance recorded Bluefaced Leicester’s with the launch of a recorded mule certification scheme.

We would encourage as many members as possible to attend this meeting.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact Matt Drummond on his mobile 07771934071 or contact myself on 07887 891678.
Myrfyn Roberts
Breed Development Chairman

***A group of US breeders have imported semen from performance recorded rams from both Mr Roberts and Mr Drummond.  The Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America encourages our members to use this data collected on UK rams as part of the criteria in selecting top sires for collection and import.

BLU board member makes national sheep news

BLU board member Jared Lloyd was recently interviewed for a Sheep Industry News article.  The article focuses on his flock expansion using Shetland and BFL genetics in a large western commercial flock.

Good News for Canadian BFL Breeders

The Canadian Sheep Breeders Association Recognizes the Bluefaced Leicester For Registry in Canada

Written by Jody McLean 

On June 8th 2011 the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association (CSBA) voted to recognize the Bluefaced Leicester and allow certain animals to be registered in Canada. This was the culmination of a lot of work for the few BFL breeders in Canada that felt this would be a step forward in getting the attention of Canadian sheep breeders.

In 2009 we asked CSBA to register our Canadian born lambs from ewes and rams that were registered with BLUNA. In order for them to do this, they had to first look at the US registration and vote to accept it or not. They decided not to;  it was thought, because the first BFLs that were imported from Canada to the US were not registered, there was no way to prove their purebred status. Therefore CSBA could not accept the registry.

 In the meantime CSBA did vote to accept the UK BFL registry and their breed standard. We thought why not ask the UK to register our ewes and rams. We can then go back to CSBA and ask again for the registry based on their acceptance of the UK registration.

 Early in 2010 we approached Matt Drummond, who I’m sure you are all acquainted with. For those of you that are not, he is the owner of Cassington Farm and also sits on the board of directors of the BFL Sheep Breeders Association of Great Britain. We asked him to intercede for us in applying to register our animals in the UK. He brought our request to the next board meeting. It was voted on and accepted. We emailed our BLUNA pedigrees to the UK. They looked at them closely and voted to accept them. We were then issued certificates by email for our UK registrations.

 This spring (2011) we approached CSBA and asked again to register our BFLs on the basis of our UK registrations. They were more than a little surprised that we would ask again and it was thought that more work would have to be done on this to ensure it was on the “up and up.”  Stacey White, secretary for CSBA  emailed Matt Drummond several times with many questions about their process in accepting our registrations. Matt Drummond’s answers were the only reason that in June at the next board meeting, it was decided that the CSBA could now accept our registrations.

 It’s interesting to note that we can only register BFLs that are registered in the UK, but CSBA requires an extended pedigree (at least 5 generations.) The UK only provides 3. In order to get the 5 generations, we use the BLUNA certificates. So, in a round about way, they are accepting the BLUNA registrations with the exception of coloured animals. Because the UK doesn’t accept colour, neither will CSBA. All coloured BFLs will remain registered in the US and because of the colour issue we will continue to register all our lambs with BLUNA. Once we have a base of Canadian registered animals built, it will no longer be necessary to register them in the UK. At that point we will have a dual registry, US and Canadian.  

 We were asked by Stacey White (CSBA) to put together a Breed Description and a Breed Standard for the Canadian BFL. We mainly used a combination of the  BLU breed standard and the UK’s with some small revisions. You can see this on the CSBA webpage at

 With the importation of 3 excellent rams from the UK and the Canadian registry accepted, we are well on the way to re-establishing the BFL in Canada. As sheep breeders, we have exciting times ahead. Many thanks to all that contributed.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for our newly imported rams

By Lisa Rodenfels, Jared Lloyd and Kristen Barndt

If you would like to see EBV charts on some of the latest imported UK rams, please go to the IMPORTED RAMS page (under BREED INFO, and BFL RAMS). Links to the EBV charts for most of the 2010 imported sires are at the bottom of each ram’s entry.

A few EBV insights

EBV data is simply a tool to help you make choices for your flock and your needs. Use the data to select for what you need. It may depend on whether you are eating the lamb (lean at higher weights) or trying to raise the sheep and want an easy keeping ewe.

If you are selecting a ram for breeding replacements, you may want to choose a ram that has a moderate fat level. If you are selecting a terminal sire, then the one with low fat might be better.

For instance, since most Hill breeds put on fat easily and early, you may want to select a ram with moderate fat numbers to produce your Mules so that the Mule wethers don’t get too fat at too young an age, and so that his Mule daughters get a moderate amount of fat cover.

It is likely that shepherds in colder climates may want higher fat numbers than would shepherds in more moderate climates, or in flocks that are managed more closely – fed grain and have access to a barn in winter.

Everything in moderation, and select for what you want and need. Another example is the Suffolk lines that are used for club lambs, which have been selected for very low fat depth. These lines excel at staying very lean no matter how old the lambs get, and how fast or slowly they are grown out. However, the ewes need to be fed very well, or they don’t do well. This type of ewe would never do well on a farm with minimal input, grazing native Kentucky 31 pastures year round.

We’ll want to be cautious about how much muscling we develop on our BFLs – balancing that with milking ability. Think about the carcass qualities of the dairy goat and cow and you can see how milk production and carcass quality are diametrically opposed. So these two traits must be balanced to keep from going too far to one side or the other.

In the context of balancing carcass and dairy characteristics, the Longwool Index Project and the Sire Reference Scheme (SRS) programs were developed in the UK with this concern in mind. The progressive UK breeders we are now working with are enrolled in these programs. Our progressive US flockmasters will be able to take advantage of the rams these programs are producing. See links below for information on the SRS and Longwool Index.

For the most part, you’d like to see all of the graphs in an EBV chart leaning to the right (positive values), except possibly for fat and muscle depth, depending on what decisions you are making.

EBVs: only one part of the whole picture

EBVs should be only one tool in your selection and planning. Seeing an animal, looking at conformation, general health and vitality, fleece quality, and seeing how the animal moves are all immensely important. An EBV chart by itself can’t show you foot quality and health, fleece characteristics, a less-than-excellent bite, testicle size, temperament and many other important attributes.

Info to help further your understanding of EBVs

Basic understanding of EBVs

Go to this link for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (UK) basic explanation of EBVs.

Go to this link for NSIP basic explanation of EBVs.

Go to this link for an NSIP presentation on EBVs.

Presentations at Ohio Sheep Day 2010: Breeding Sheep for a More Profitable Flock

Key Presenters at Ohio Sheep Day 2010 included Dr. David Thomas from the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Kreg Leymaster from the US Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, and Dr. David Notter from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Go to this link, and then click on the individual presentations to view:

Presentations at Ohio Sheep Day 2010

Basics of Sheep Breeding for Commercial Flocks, by Dr. David Thomas
Building a Ewe Flock, by Dr. Kreg Leymaster
Selection and Crossbreeding Systems for Dairy Sheep, by Dr. Thomas
Selecting Your Next Terminal Sire Ram, by Dr. David Notter

All of these presentation are in MS PowerPoint. If you do not have PowerPoint, you may download MS PowerPoint Viewer for free; go to this link to download it.

Longwool Index info

Introductory 2004 article from Hybu Cig Cymru, New Longwool Index a Boost to Welsh Breeders (PDF)

Informative Hybu Cig Cymru PDF file on Practical Sheep Breeding explains EBVs, breeding in a stratified sheep industry, and the Index programs, including the Longwool Index.

Sire Reference Scheme (SRS) info

Sheep Sire Referencing Schemes (PDF) article by G. Simm and N.R. Wray, The Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh

Older Bluefaced Leicester Sire Reference Scheme brochure (PDF) from Signet with graphics

Further reading

Go to this link for an excellent article at Farmer’s Weekly Interactive (UK):
EBVs are icing on the cake, by Jeremy Hunt
Select rams based on both good conformation and positive traits seen during a visual inspection, as well as their “figures” (EBVs)

President’s Message

Originally published in the newsletter BLU Print; October 2010, Vol. 1, No. 3

The show season is winding down, and the fiber festivals are over, and it’s time to look back on a successful year promoting BFLs. From the 3rd National Show in Oregon, to shows across the country, BFLs have been presented by a growing number of breeders. Fleeces and fiber are in high demand from handspinners and fiber artists.

In early October, semen from seven new bloodlines was imported into this country from Great Britain. These rams come from some of their top flocks – both in the showring, and more importantly, from breeders who progeny test their rams for productivity traits. Offspring from these new bloodlines will soon be available from breeders across the country, bringing genetic improvement and diversity to the US flock. I hope you all support the breeders who will be using this semen in their flocks and take advantage of the improvements they can make in your own flocks.

This marks the end of the first year for the new Bluefaced Leicester Union Board of Directors. The Board has made much progress; adopting bylaws for the association, developing a budget, establishing a newsletter, revamping the website, and working on guidelines for future national shows. There is still much to do, and we welcome your suggestions and requests.

I want to thank you all for your support during this first year. A lot of people have volunteered their time and talents to make this a year full of progress and opportunity for BLU. I look forward to the promise that 2011 holds.

Wishing all of you a blessed holiday season, and the very best for 2011!
Lisa Rodenfels