FIBRE WORKS FARM
SHETLAND MODIFIED SOLID COLOUR
INVESTIGATIVE BREEDING PROGRAM
2006 PROGRESS REPORT
(Click here for spring lamb pictures only)
(Click here to see summer lamb pictures only)
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.
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
VISIBONE RGB COLOUR
1. BLACK: True black, no or very little
~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.
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.
~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
~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
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
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
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
1. Fibre Work Déjà Vu:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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
9. Fibre Works Delilah:
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:
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.
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:
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
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:
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,
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:
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:
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:
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:
Phenotype is medium honey mioget. Sire is Duke, a mioget. Dam is Fibre
Works Fait Accompli, an “off” black carrier.
21. Fibre Works Gigi:
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:
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:
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:
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.
ASSESSED AS HAVING MMMm or MmMm:
AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ewe. Falerno x Jarrett.
Works Havana Black:
AaAaBBB?MmMm - char/pewter ram. Falerno x Jarrett.
Works Hot Spur:
AaAaBBB?M?mm – dark brown or char/pewter ram.
Franny x Jarrett.
AaAaBbBbMmM? - fawn/mioget ram. Zoe x Jarrett.
AaAaBBBbMMMm – black carrier ewe. Zoe x Jarrett.
AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ewe.
Belinda x Grenada.
AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram. Belinda x
AaAaBBB?MMMm - dark brown carrier ram. Scotia x
AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe. Scotia x Jarrett.
AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe. Scotia x Jarrett.
AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram. Faline x Guinness.
AaAaBBBbMmMm – charcoal/pewter ewe. Fait x Duke.
AaAaBbBbMmM? fawn ewe. Fait x Duke.
AaAaBBBbMmMm – charcoal/pewter ram. Easter x
Works Haute Couture:
charcoal/pewter ewe. Easter x Guinness.
AaAaBBB?MMMm – black carrier ewe. Gamay x Duke.
AaAaBBBbMmMm - charcoal/pewter ram. Daphne x Duke.
AaAaBBBbMmMm - charcoal/pewter ewe. Daphne x Duke.
AaAaBBBbMMMm – warm black or dark brown carrier ewe. Elizabeth x Duke.
AaAaBbBbMMMm – light moorit (?) carrier ram.
Elizabeth x Duke.
AaAaBBBbMmMm- charcoal/pewter ram. Fairy Tale x
AaAaBBBbMmM? – warm black or dark brown ram.
Fairy Tale x Jarrett.
AaAaBbBbMmMm - mioget ram. Gigi x Grenada.
AaAaBbBbMmMm – mioget ram. Zoe x Jarrett.
AaAaBbBbMmMm – mioget ewe. Zoe x Jarrett.
AaAaBBBbM?Mm - warm black ewe. Faith
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
MOORIT THROUGH TO LIGHTER MOORIT
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
Additional breedings within the program will be conducted in 2007 and
(Click here to see summer lamb pictures)
© Linda Wendelboe, 26/06/2006