if only it were that easy!
This covers a lot of subjects, but right now I am talking about the color of Jacob sheep.
For reference here is a lilac ewe, in the back, and a black/white ewe in the front.
Jacobs are technically a black sheep with white spots, but the black is seldom true black. There are grays, browns, chocolate, lilac, and other various shades and mixtures.
Lilac is recessive to black, but I just recently read that the term lilac refers to everything not black. This makes things a little muddy because in my mind when you breed a lilac (recessive) to another lilac (recessive) you should always get lilac. The part that gets muddy is when you get a sheep that isn’t the traditional lilac color and not black. This color supposedly falls into the lilac category but when you breed this animal to a traditional lilac, you can get black, lilac, or ??? It would make sense that this color should be called something entirely different – but what???
I believe Reno falls in this ‘other’ category and am really looking forward to his lambs. He was bred to lilacs and blacks.
Here is a close-up of his fleece – I didn’t have enough hands to part the fleece and photograph it – but it is brown all the way down to his skin. I’m curious to see what he looks like when we shear him in the Spring.
I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently because of two conversations I had last week. One person bought a couple lambs out of a ram of ours and she knew that the dams were traditional lilac and this ram is registered as lilac, but the lambs were black. She was questioning whether this ram was really the sire. I would have questioned it as well and I don’t believe this particular ram should have been registered lilac, but he also isn’t black.
The other lamb looked black when she was born but began changing as she matured. The owner sent me pictures after shearing and she definitely isn’t black.
As I was feeding the ewes tonight I took pictures of all the different colors…
Three different blacks. There is also speculation that there is an early graying gene that affects the color.
One of the BLACK blacks.
Here are two different lilacs. I’m guessing the early graying gene also affects the lilacs. Notice the really pale spots on the ewe closest to me. I’m not sure about that darker spot on her back.
The traditional lilacs tend to have a lighter halo around their eyes that is apparent at birth.
I don’t have any answers, but find the whole thing fascinating. I would love to hear from other Jacob breeders!