5 comments on “As simple as black and white…

  1. This is a topic that leaves me wondering too..I have had Jacobs that seemed unquestionably black and faded enough over the years as to NOT be black…is that aging, or are they lilacs? I have had sheep that seemed to definitely be lilacs but was unsure enough to register them as such because I am still confused by the color definitions. The only thing I am sure of is that I love the variations of my sheep. I am looking forward to reading any comments you receive from other Jacob sheep breeders and owners.

  2. There does sound to be obvious separate dilute genes in the breed… I wonder if they are as you say, progressive lightening genes, or if possibly they are a whole other color gene (Like say, and dd blue, vs bb chocolate in dogs). If someone were to be seriously color breeding (breeding out recessive dilutes) that could be helpful in weeding out the genes, as can simply test breeding. That’s what we’ve had to do in rats, in this same situation of “We don’t know what this/these are, but they effect colors”.

    Documenting color results is very helpful in determining the causes of diluted colors. When lilac sheep are born, are they born colored other than black, or are they born black, and then change color as they mature?

  3. I’m so happy to see this post. This and fleece types are my two favorite topics on Jacobs. I wish I had some concrete answers for a reply but I do not. I have all the same variations that you do in my flock. Idona, a three year old ewe is an early greying type. Ruby Gem is a true dark black. I have several “blue lilacs” that had a clear eye ring at birth and are grey. And then I have Rosemary that has lightened up to a beautiful silver color. Constance is a medium grey with those darker spots scattered through out her body like you have shown in you pic. And then there is Grace, a lamb, that was questionable at birth and now her fleece color is very grey but feet are black but her face and ears are turning grey as she sheds her facial hair. What a true mystery…

  4. There are definitely many types of “lilac”. Like you, what I consider a true lilac is one that breeds true. JSBA has only two color categories black and lilac and not all sheep fall cleanly into one of those categories.
    Lilacs are apparent at birth. I’ve heard breeders say a sheep is “turning lilac” as it ages. Doesn’t happen.
    Besides early graying, there is also roaning, ticking, and sunbleaching, which change the color of the fleece.
    I’ve heard that the bronzing around the eye like Reno, indicates the sheep carries lilac. That has been true with my breedings, but that’s not a large population.

  5. Kathy – The ones that gradually gray as they get older, in my opinion, are affected by the graying gene and not lilac. I believe the true/traditional lilacs are apparent at birth. I also love the variations, but would also like to know what to call them 🙂

    Emily – I would love to talk to you more about this subject. I am really BAD about color genetics 🙂 As I said above, I really think the true lilacs are apparent at birth. This ‘other’ color that I’m not sure what to call, turns a brownish color as they mature – starting at about 6-8 weeks.

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