MODIFIED COLOURS

CONFORMATION FLEECE HISTORY HUSBANDRY MEAT & OTHER

FIBRE WORKS FARM
SHETLAND MODIFIED SOLID COLOUR
INVESTIGATIVE BREEDING PROGRAM
2006 PROGRESS REPORT

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In 2002, Fibre Works Farm in west central Alberta imported several Shetland ewes from Judy Colvin of Bitterroot Ranch in Montana.  They were bred in quarantine to a Fibre Works Shetland ram.  Two of the lambs born out in this group in 2003 had odd colour fleeces.  That started my investigation into what we are now calling modified Shetland colours – dark brown, fawn, mioget and charcoal/pewter.  Theresa Gygi of Under the Son Farm and Gail Former of Underhill Farm, both in Indiana, are also doing similar test breedings to investigate the Mm recessive theory presented here. Other breeders may be conducting similar investigations but may be using the colour terms in a different way with different base assumptions and different results.   This is a summary of the FWF program to June, 2006.  It is ongoing and updates will be posted from time to time.

These modified colour fleeces:

  1. Are AaAa solid colours.  While they may exhibit some white fibres as the animals mature, the base colours are caused by a majority of solid colour fibres.
  2. Look like a lightened or bleached version of the basic black or moorit (brown).  They may also sun bleach at the tips but the modified colour should be apparent down to skin level in a mature sheep
  3. In lambs, may be one tone or colour and gradually change to another as the animal matures.  These modified colour changes usually happen at skin level and grow out.  For instance, char/pewter lambs are often born “off” or “flat” black.  The fleece may then take on brownish tones and finally, most of the fibres “fade” at skin level to a pewter grey.  Eye rims, nose, lips, neck ruff and hocks may change before the main body of the fleece. 

Colours that are caused solely by the presence of white fibres mixed in with black (salt and pepper) or brown (cinnamon and sugar) fibres is not considered “modified” for the purposes of this program.

In this program, “Mm” designates a hypothetical recessive allele that may bleach out the base colour of the majority of the fibres in the fleece. The work here is based on breeding together Shetland sheep thought to carry MMMm or MmMm.  We only have small sample numbers so far but it appears that MmMm may produce the mioget colour on BbBb sheep and the char/pewter colour on BBBb sheep.

It also seems likely that one form of dark brown in Shetlands may be caused by BBBbMMMm, where the Mm allows the black BB and the brown Bb to “leak” together.  One form of solid colour fawn may be BbBbMMMm where the usual moorit brown colour is lightened somewhat by the normally recessive Mm.

BBBBMMMm may also result in a modified colour phenotype but no observations have been made at Fibre Works Farm of confirmed BBBBMMMm genotypes.

There are four solid colours that seem to be representative of the range observed in the modified colour phenotypes: dark brown, fawn, mioget and char/pewter; however, seven solid colours have been delineated in the breeding program.  Black and moorit sheep may act as carriers and black and moorit progeny may be produced by carrier sheep.  In addition, several suspected carrier animals have been used that are AgAa or AlbfAa.  If Mm operates on Ag fleeces, the phenotypical effects would likely be hard to discern, given the general light nature of the Ag fleeces in Shetlands.  Where AgAa or AlbfAa animals have been used in this program, they were bred to AaAa animals and only the resulting AaAa offspring continue in the test breeding program.  For ease of reference, a list of colours and descriptions follows below.

COLOUR NAMES AND DESCRIPTORS

VISIBONE RGB COLOUR #

ACTUAL FLEECE

1.  BLACK:  True black, no or very little brown tone.

BBB?

 

 

   ~0/0/0 to ~30/30/30

 

2.  WARM BLACK:  Black with brownish tones, most noticeable on the tips of the fleece, but evident down into the fleece as well.

Likely BBBb, may also carry Mm.

 

~40/40/20

 

3.  DARK BROWN:  Bitter chocolate, even at skin level.

One genotype responsible for this colour is likely BBBbMMMm.
 

 

~50/35/15 to ~74/50/0

4.  MOORIT:  Regular brown ranging from dark, similar to cloves, to lighter brown, similar to cinnamon.  There is no well marked demarcation line between light moorit and dark fawn. BbBb

~74/45/0 to ~149/80/47

 

5.  FAWN:  Butterscotch pudding to darker honey colour.  The fleece pictured here would probably be  medium fawn.

May be caused by BbBbMMMm or by BbBbMmMm.

~255/155/77 to ~255/173/77

 

6.  MIOGET:  Medium to light honey tones.  The fleece pictured here is on the lighter side.

Thought to be BbBbMmMm.

~255/173/77 to ~255/223/168

 

7.  CHAR/PEWT:  Born “off” black, fades to pewter, may have brown overtones.

May be caused by BBBbMmMm.

 

~119/100/77 to ~210/190/168

 

 

The RGB Colour #s are included as a more objective way to identify the fleece colours and are examples and best approximations only. Computer monitors vary greatly in colour display, so reference to a printed colour chart such as the Visibone Web Colour Kilochart or other print colour reference material can be more helpful.   The fleeces may have colour variations within the fleece and between fleeces.  The presence of different amounts of phaeomelanin may also change the way the base colours look.   Fleece samples from most of the Shetlands in this program have been sent to Theresa Gygi for examination under her microscope.  She intends to present the results of her study in 2006.  Pedigrees for all registered Shetlands can be viewed at: 
http://www.mtn-nichefarm.com/NASSA/index.php

The colour descriptions used here are an attempt to accurately convey the colour of the fleece but also to denote the underlying genetics of the colour, so far as they can be determined.  This is not a universally accepted or “official” method but it suits this program.

There are several guidelines followed in using the colour names in this program.  First, there should be a distinction in the names between Ag fleece colours and AaAa fleece colours.  Two grey fleeces may look the same from two feet away but up close and personal, one might be a mix of white/light and dark fibres and the other might be comprised primarily of one colour of grey fibres.  Those two colours should not be called the same name.

Second, there may be situations where two colours look the same or almost the same but are caused by different Mm genetics.   Using a different name for each of those colours that will denote the genetics as well as the colour is important.  For instance, there could be a sheep that is likely MMMm with fleece in the same range of colour intensity as a dark MmMm.  If possible, the MMMm animal should be called something other than fawn or mioget (names usually used to mean MmMm animals), even though the colours may look the same.  There are no clear demarcation lines between colours, so best estimates have to be used.

Third, Shetland terms that do not quite fit the fleece colour or otherwise cause confusion are avoided. Using charcoal/pewter instead of shaela or emsket makes sense because of the brown overtones found in those modified fleeces.  The traditional descriptions of emsket and shaela seem to focus on the blue or steely tones, no mention of brown overtones at all, so those terms are not used.  It may be that charcoal/pewter is the same as shaela or emsket but with phaeomelanin added in.   Perhaps with more test breedings, we can figure that out.

I am consulting with Dr. Phil Sponenberg for guidance on how this might all fit into colour genetics theory.
 

THE SHETLANDS

Genotypes are estimated using phenotypes, pedigrees and progeny.  The genotypes of the lambs are "best guess" and will be revised, if necessary, once they mature and produce progeny.  Genotypes are revisited after each lambing season and revised, if necessary, to incorporate information from the additional progeny. “Carrier” designates an animal with a phenotype that may not be obviously modified but is the progeny of an animal that is MmMm or has produced fawn, mioget or char/pewter progeny.

FOUNDATION ANIMALS:

1.  Fibre Work Déjà Vu:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ram.  Carrier.  Phenotype is warm black, close to dark brown.  He sired a butterscotch fawn lamb (Fibre Works Eureka) and a char/pewter lamb (Fibre Works Easter).  His sire (Mtn Niche Auric) was registered as mioget and Auric’s phenotype was variegated, light moorit to light butterscotch.  Déjà Vu now has white fibres coming into his fleece.

 

2.  Bitterroot Jordan:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ram.  Phenotype is medium to light mioget.  His pedigree contains a number of miogets and some anomalous colour registrations.   When bred to dark browns, he produced miogets and dark browns.  When bred to a butterscotch/fawn, he produced a butterscotch/fawn (Fibre Works Faroe).  Jordan now has white fibres coming into his fleece.

   

 

3.  WillowGarden Duke of York:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ram.  Phenotype is medium to light mioget.  His pedigree contains some dark brown.  When bred to carrier dark browns and warm blacks, he produced miogets and several char/pewters (Fibre Works Gigi and Hasanati).  Duke now has white fibres coming into his fleece.

 

 

4.  Valley Road Jarrett:  AaAaBBBbM?Mm ram.  Carrier; potentially modified.  Phenotype is hard to determine.  Base colour fibres appear to be dark brown bordering on charcoal.  This ram was bought in as a potential charcoal.  Once his progeny have matured somewhat, they may give insight on his genotype.

 

5.  Bitterroot Faith:  AlbfAaBBBbMM?Mm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is very faded badgerface with strong pheomelanin.  When bred to Déjà Vu, a warm black, Faith produced a light badger faced lamb and a char/pewter lamb (Fibre Works Easter).  When bred to a solid black AaAaBBBbMMMM ram, she produced two black lambs.  When bred to Fibre Works Fenton, a dark brown carrier ram, she produced a light badger faced ram lamb and a warm black ram lamb (Fibre Works Gospel).   Bred to Guinness, a fawn, she produced a charcoal ewe (Fibre Works Hope) and a light badger face ram lamb.

 

 

6.  Bitterroot Arlyn:  AlbfAaBBBbM?M? ewe.  Potential carrier.  Phenotype is light grey badgerface with dark markings.  When bred to Déjà Vu, a warm black, she produced a butterscotch/fawn (Fibre Works Eureka).  When bred to a solid black AaAaBBBbMMMM ram, she produced a black and a moorit.

 

 

7.  Bitterroot Belinda:  AaAaBBBbMMMm? ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is dark brown.  When bred to a black, she produced a light moorit (Fibre Works Firenza).  When bred to Fibre Works Fenton, a dark brown carrier ram, she produced a black and a light moorit.  When bred to Fibre Works Grenada, a mioget, she produced two mioget lambs, Holiday and Honeymoon.  Belinda now has white fibres coming into her fleece.

   
 

8.  Prairie Zoe: AgAaBbBbMM?Mm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is musket, very light beige with tan face and legs - strong pheomelanin.  She has been bred four times to black rams who had no obvious Mm characteristics.  The first two lambs were Ag greys.  The third, Fibre Works Falerno, is a warm black; the fourth, Fibre Works Gamay, is dark brown.   When bred to Valley Road Jarrett, a potential charcoal/pewter, Zoe produced a fawn/mioget (Fibre Works Hockheim) and a black, Fibre Works Heidseick. Falerno went on to produce a fawn/mioget lamb (Fibre Works Guinness) when bred to Duke, a mioget.

 

 

9.  Fibre Works Delilah:  AaAaBBBbMM?Mm? ewe.  Potential Carrier.  Phenotype was dark brown.  When bred to Jordan, a mioget, she produced 3 dark browns.  She is now deceased.

                                                                               

 

10.  Fibre Works Daphne:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is dark brown.  When bred to Jordan, a mioget, she produced two miogets, Fibre Works Fairytale and Fibre Works Foghorn.  Bred to Fibre Works Fenton, a dark brown, she produced two warm black/dark browns, Fibre Works Georgie Porgie and Fibre Works Goofy.  When bred to a mioget, Duke, she produced two charcoal/pewter lambs, Happy and Hansel.Daphne now has a lot of white fibres coming into her fleece.

 
 

PROGENY RETAINED IN THE PROGRAM

11.  Fibre Works Eureka:  AaAaBbBbMM?Mm ewe. Phenotype is butterscotch fawn and is lightening up with age.  Sire is Déjà Vu, a warm black carrier.  Dam is Bitterroot Arlyn, AlbfAaBBBbM?M?.  When bred to Jordan, a mioget, Eureka produced a butterscotch fawn (Fibre Works Faroe).  When bred to Fibre Works Fenton, a dark brown carrier, she produced a mioget (Fibre Works Grenada).   When bred to Valley Road Jarrett, she produced two fawn/miogets, Fibre Works Hibernia and Fibre Works Hebrides.   Eureka now has white fibres coming into her fleece causing her to look lighter.

            

 
 

12.  Fibre Works Easter:  AaAaBBBbMmMm ewe.  Phenotype is char/pewter and is lightening up with age.  Sire is Déjà Vu, dam is Faith.  When bred to a black, she produced an off black, almost charcoal lamb, Fibre Works Fait Accompli.  When bred to Duke, a mioget, she produced a mioget lamb, Fibre Works Glissande.  When bred to Guninnes, she produced two charcoal/pewters – Haute Couture and Homage.  Easter now has white fibre coming into her fleece.

       

 

13.  Fibre Works Fairy Tale:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ewe.  Phenotype is honey mioget.  Sire is Jordan, a mioget, dam is Daphne, a dark brown.  When bred to Valley Road Jarrett, a potential charcoal/pewter, she produced one charcoal/ pewter – Helios and one warm black or potential charcoal/pewter - Hector.

     

 

14.  Fibre Works Fait Accompli:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is off black, not really brown, not really black.  Sire is Fibre Works Chiron, a black ram with no obvious link to modified colours.  Dam is Easter, a char/pewter.  When bred to Duke, a mioget, she produced a mioget lamb, Fibre Works Gamba.  When bred back to Duke, she produced a charcoal/pewter, Hasanati, and a fawn, Hawa.

   

 

 

15.  Fibre Works Falerno:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is warm black.  Sire is Fibre Works Chiron, a black ram, with no known modified characteristics.  Dam is Prairie Zoe, a musket.  When bred to Duke, a mioget, Falerno produced a fawn lamb, Fibre Works Guinness.  When bred to a potential charcoal/pewter, Valley Road Jarrett, she produced a mioget, Hennessy, and a charcoal/pewter, Havana Black.

   
 

16.  Fibre Works Faline:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is dark brown.  Sire is Jordan, a mioget.  Dam is Fibre Works Delilah, a dark brown.  When bred to Guinness, she produced a mioget, Hart.

 

 

17.  Fibre Works Fenton:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ram.  Carrier.  Phenotype is warm black/dark brown.  Sire is Jordan, a mioget.  Dam is Fibre Works Delilah, a dark brown.  When bred to a butterscotch fawn, he produced a mioget, Fibre Works Grenada.  When bred to dark brown carriers, he produced warm black, black and moorit.

 

 

18.  Fibre Works Franny:  AaAaBBBbMMMm ewe.  Carrier.  Phenotype is dark brown.  Sire is Jordan, a mioget, dam is Delilah, a dark brown.  When bred to Duke, a mioget, she produced a char/pewter, Fibre Works Gigi.  When bred to Jarrett, a potential charcoal/pewter, she produced a dark brown/potential charcoal, Hotspur.

   

 

19.  Fibre Works Gamay:  AaAaBBBbM?M? ewe lamb.  Potential carrier.  Phenotype is probably dark brown (but almost charcoal/pewter).  Sire is WSR Midnight Mist, a black ram with no known modified characteristics.  Dam is Prairie Zoe, a musket. When bred to Duke, a mioget, she produced a warm black (?) ewe, Hearts.

      

 

20.  Fibre Works Gamba:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ram.  Phenotype is medium honey mioget.  Sire is Duke, a mioget.  Dam is Fibre Works Fait Accompli, an “off” black carrier.

   

 

21.  Fibre Works Gigi:  AaAaBBBbMmMm ewe.  Phenotype is modified, char/pewter.  Sire is Duke, a mioget and Dam is Franny, a dark brown.  When bred to Fibre Works Grenada, a mioget, she produced a mioget, Harlequin.

            

 

 

22.  Fibre Works Glissande:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ewe.  Phenotype is modified, honey mioget.  Sire is Duke, a mioget and Dam is Easter, char/pewter.  When bred to Jarrett, a carrier or a potential modified, she produced a mioget – Highwood.

             

 

 

23.  Fibre Works Grenada:  AaAaBbBbMmMm ram.  Phenotype is modified, medium honey mioget.  Sire is Fenton, a dark brown.  Dam is Fibre Works Eureka, a butterscotch fawn.  He produced mioget lambs when bred to Mm carriers.

       

 

24.  Fibre Works Guinness:  AaAaBbBbMM?Mm ram.  Phenotype is modified, probably butterscotch fawn.  The fleece is lighter than light moorit but a bit darker than Grenada and Gamba and the legs and face are lighter than those of a light moorit as well. Sire is Duke, a mioget.  Dam is Falerno, a warm black potential carrier.  He produced mioget and charcoal/pewter lambs when bred to Mm carriers.

    

 

2006 PROGENY ASSESSED AS HAVING MMMm or MmMm:

 

25.  Fibre Works Hennessy: AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ewe.  Falerno x Jarrett.

  

 

26.  Fibre Works Havana Black: AaAaBBB?MmMm - char/pewter ram.  Falerno x Jarrett.

 

 

27.  Fibre Works Hot Spur:  AaAaBBB?M?mm – dark brown or char/pewter ram.  Franny x Jarrett.

  

 

28.  Fibre Works Hockheim:  AaAaBbBbMmM? - fawn/mioget ram.  Zoe x Jarrett.

    

 

29.  Fibre Works Heidseick: AaAaBBBbMMMm – black carrier ewe.  Zoe x Jarrett.

 

30.  Fibre Works Honeymoon:  AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ewe.   Belinda x Grenada.

  

 

31.  Fibre Works Holiday:  AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram.  Belinda x Grenada.

 

32.  Fibre Works Hyperbole:  AaAaBBB?MMMm - dark brown carrier ram.  Scotia x Jarrett.

 

33.  Fibre Works Haiku:  AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe.  Scotia x Jarrett.

 

34.  Fibre Works Humour:  AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe.  Scotia x Jarrett.

 

36.  Fibre Works Hart:  AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram.  Faline x Guinness.

  

 

36.  Fibre Works Hasanati:  AaAaBBBbMmMm – charcoal/pewter ewe.  Fait x Duke.

     

 

37.  Fibre Works Hawa:  AaAaBbBbMmM? fawn ewe.  Fait x Duke.

  

 

38.  Fibre Works Homage:  AaAaBBBbMmMm – charcoal/pewter ram.  Easter x Guinness.

 

 

39.  Fibre Works Haute Couture:  AaAaBBBbMmMm – charcoal/pewter ewe.  Easter x Guinness.

 

40.  Fibre Works Hearts:  AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe.  Gamay x Duke.

 

41.  Fibre Works Hansel:  AaAaBBBbMmMm - charcoal/pewter ram.  Daphne x Duke.

  

 

42.  Fibre Works Happy:  AaAaBBBbMmMm - charcoal/pewter ewe.  Daphne x Duke.

 

43.  Fibre Works Hilary:  AaAaBBBbMMMm – warm black or dark brown carrier ewe.  Elizabeth x Duke.

 

44.  Fibre Works Hansard:  AaAaBbBbMMMm – light moorit (?) carrier ram.  Elizabeth x Duke.

 

45.  Fibre Works Helios:  AaAaBBBbMmMm- charcoal/pewter ram.  Fairy Tale x Jarrett.

   

 

46.  Fibre Works Hector:  AaAaBBBbMmM? –  warm black or dark brown ram.  Fairy Tale x Jarrett.

 

47.  Fibre Works Harlequin:  AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram.  Gigi x Grenada.

  

 

48.  Fibre Works Hebrides:  AaAaBbBbMmMm – mioget ram.  Zoe x Jarrett.

 

 

49.  Fibre Works Hibernia:  AaAaBbBbMmMm – mioget ewe.  Zoe x Jarrett.

  

 

50.  Fibre Works Hope:  AaAaBBBbM?Mm - warm black ewe.  Faith x Guinness

 

 

51.  Fibre Works Highwood:  AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ewe.  Glissande x Jarrett.

  

  

There are a number of additional potential Mm carriers that are the progeny of MMMm x MMMm or MMMm x MMMM crosses. Test breeding to MmMm would be the most reliable way to determine if they carry Mm.

BLACK AND MOORIT REFERENCE FLEECES

 DARKER REDDISH MOORIT THROUGH TO LIGHTER MOORIT

                            

 

                    BLACK                                                 SUNBLEACHED/WARM BLACK

              

                                      

 ANOMOLIES:

There are two slightly puzzling results in the 2006 lambs. The first is Hector. His dam is clearly honey coloured mioget (BbBbMmMm). The sire, Jarrett, is either dark brown (BBBbMMMm) or charcoal (BBBbMmMm) but his spotting and white fibre intrusion make it difficult to tell. If Jarrett is MmMm, his lamb Hector out of an MmMm dam, should also be MmMm. So far, Hector looks more warm black than anything else. He could still have a slow colour change but his phenotype does not have any tell tale signs.

If Jarrett is MMMm, Hector could be MMMm, a warm black carrier. All other MmMm ewes bred to Jarrett produced lambs that appear to be MmMm; MMMm ewes produced both MmMm and MMMm lambs.

The second puzzle is Hyperbole. His dam, Scotia, has no known modified progeny or modified close ancestors. His sire is Jarrett. Hyperbole is dark brown but has some areas around his head and tail that are starting to look charcoal. His two sisters are warm black.

Both Hector and Hyperbole will be monitored for any further colour developments.

2007
Additional breedings within the program will be conducted in 2007 and results noted.

(Click here to see summer lamb pictures)

© Linda Wendelboe, 26/06/2006
 

 


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