Garden Diary - September 2018

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Sheep at the Garden State Sheep Breeders Show

Saturday, 8 September 2018

This is the weekend of the Garden State Sheep Breeders show, an annual event featuring four barns full of critters, crafters, vendors, and more. Come on, let's go - this will take at least a couple of hours.

First barn has vendors, a show ring, and breed displays.

The breed displays are separate pens with a couple of sheep of a specific breed, someone to answer questions, and a display table with fleece, yarn, perhaps a skull, and various pamphlets.

Jacob sheep always have a large presence at this event. There are enough farms raising this breed that they can support a breed specific regional show.


The general public is usually fascinated with Jacob sheep
for multiple reasons: they have a striking multicolor coat.

Both rams and ewes are horned with two or four horns.

There are numerous sheep here for the show. In the second barn
are multiple pens, with many sheep. Labels help identify the breeds.

A fascinating event in the show ring has an alphabetical display of the various breeds. Brought in one by one as an announcer describes the different breeds.

This Valais Blacknose is a rarity, extreme opposite of the Jacob sheep. Nearby, there is only one farm here in New Jersey, and one in Pennsylvania, that are raising the breed. Opposite to the American Kennel Club's closed registry for dogs, the Valais Blacknose registry is breeding up from an outcrossed base using imported frozen semen. Why? The USDA does not allow the importation of live animals, or even embryo transfer. In fact, the ban on imported semen was only lifted in 2016. So this Swiss breed documented back to the fifteenth century is very much a newcomer to the United States.

No wonder she is in such a hurry!

Calm temperament, attractive appearance, dual purpose for meat and

with coarse carpet-type wool. The staple length is about four inches after five to six months' growth. Sheep are shorn twice a year, with an annual yield close to 9 pounds per animal. The wool is said to be exceptionally good for felting.

I have another entry about fleece and spinning here

Some sheep are shown shorn, closely clipped to display their conformation.

Others are shown "in the fleece." After bathing they'll wear a jacket
to keep their fleece clean and tidy before they enter the show ring.

Shepherd's Croft Hannah, an American Miniature Cheviot, appears
to be thinking, "What we have to go through to get ready for the show."

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