Recessive Color

2018 NEWS on recessive color    Review of previous three years’ experience below.

We put fourteen  ewes last August to one or the other of our two recessively-colored rams from Tawanda Farms.  Two ewes are Awt A_; seven are Awt Ax; five are recessively colored (shorthand Ax Ay).   Twenty-six lambs were born late Jan to early Feb : ten pairs of twins, one set of triplets and three singletons.  All are doing well as of  Feb 19.  There are thirteen recessively-colored lambs. The two Awt A_ ewes produced as expected four white  lambs that have to be Awt Ax.   The five Ax Ay ewes had eight Ax Ay lambs  The seven Awt Ax ewes bred by an  Ax Ay ram had among them five  AxAy lambs and nine Awt Ax ones. 

“Proposals” for the agouti alleles are in the works,  helped by several viewers on Maggie’s list.  We think we’re seeing a preponderance of the darker alleles.  The recognition last year by Maggie and Dee of the midnight blue allele in Romneys calls for careful watching by us, more so as Maggie has with reasonable certainty revised the putative agouti alleles on her X001 ram who is grandsire to most of our recessives.  In 2010 she had thought him Aa Aa, but a second, careful look this year made that Ambl Aa.  We are pretty sure that there’s some midnight blue here.

The Romney Recessive web site is balky about accepting new photos; so we’ve started, like several others on the list, attaching photos to an email.  Fairly soon I’ll try to post a list of our recessive lambs with a proposal for at least one of the lamb’s agouti alleles and maybe a snapshot.  More photos can go by email if you enquire.  We will definitely have recessively-colored ram and ewe lambs for sale.  Call Graeme to tell him what you are looking for and we’ll see if we have one that might fit.

Speaking of the rams from Tawanda Farms (Cary and Sangria),  they are being repatriated to Montague CA after three years here.  They are related to all our recessives. ” Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.”  It was a privilege to host this dynamic duo.  Thank you, Maggie and Carol, we will miss them but have their sons.  We were hoping this year to decode Sangria’s agouti alleles but of his nine lambs out of  Awt Ax ewes , six were white and gave no clues.

 2017 News      Proposed Agouti Allelotypes 2017 Recessive Lambs

            Agouti alleles of the lambs were “proposed” using a composite of my proposals based on lamb photos integrated with  proposals  from Maggie, Dee, Melissa W, Michaela and Kelly,  who all generously  weighed in on most or all of the lambs.  This could grandiosely be called a very unsystematic version of the Delphic method for decision-making.  The “final”  proposal, shown below,  had to be compatible with  information I have about parental and grandparental agouti allelotypes.        

            Four  recessively-colored lambs (1472, 1480 1481 1482) were born to white color carriers known to be  Awt Aa.  This allowed us to be certain that in each the agouti allele “higher” than Aa came from the sire,  narrowing  the choices in these two sires to a relatively easy call between Albl and Adbl.  One of the sires (Tawanda’s Cary) is proven to be Albl Adbl.  The other, Tawanda’s Sangria) is Albl  Adbl or Aa

            The proposals for these four lambs are in bold below as more solid than those for the other five recessive lambs.  All of these nine, even the ones in bold,  must be validated down the line.  The bold ones we have more confidence in; the others are so to speak in  lighter pencil.      

            Comment: We seem at Anchorage  to have a limited palette of single color alleles: Albl, Adbl and Aa.  This is no surprise in that since we got into a recessive program a few years ago the rams we were privileged to use seemed to carry only those three.   I have asked others why so few houses are calling English Blue or Blue in Romneys these days.  They wonder if these alleles are around but masked by those we are calling dark blue and self.  We all need to keep our eyes out.

            All nine lambs are in the Anchorage 2017 album.  The “final” proposals, none progeny- proven, are as follows, grouped by type of dam: 

Four white color carrier ewes  put to a recessive ram bore  9 lambs in total  

            Five lambs were colored (1472, 1480, 1481, 1482, 1502)  AxAy.  More specifically,

                        1472  Adbl Aa

                        1480, 1481, 1482  all Albl Aa

                        1502 Adbl Aa

            Four lambs  (1473, 1484, 1503, 1504) were “white color-carriers,”  all considered Awt Ax                       

Two “pure white “ ewes (Awt  A_)  had  3 lambs (1476, 1477, 1491) all noted as  Awt Ax

Two “recessive” ewes (Ax  Ay)had four lambs ( 1474, 1475,  1478, 1479) all noted AxAy, specifically

                        1474 Albl Adbl

                        1475 Adbl Aa

                        1478,  1479 Adbl Aa

 Recessively-colored lambs from 2017,  by sex and proposed agouti allele pair

            Rams                                                    Ewes

                                                                      1472   Adbl Aa (not for sale)

                                                                  1480  Albl Aa

1474 Albl Adbl                                           1481  Albl Aa

1475 Adbl Aa                                              1482  Albl Aa (not for sale)

1479 Adbl Aa                                             1478 Adbl Aa   (not for sale)

                                                                     1502 Adbl Aa



2016 NEWS

In 2016 our effort to breed recessively-colored Romneys finally bore fruit after five years of halting progress.  Many thanks to Tawanda Farms for letting us harbor three wonderful rams of theirs.  Thanks also to Regina Embler for sending us a lovely white color-carrier and to Dee Heinrich for teaching, advice and encouragement over the last ten years.

 On the ground now (March 3) we have eleven lambs (3 ewes and 8 rams) that are recessive beyond question and five female white color-carriers (Awt Ax E+ E+).  All are sired by  “Cary” or  “Sangria.”  Both rams came from Tawanda Farms last summer.  The grandsire of most of the eleven lambs is Tawanda X001 (Aa Aa).  SORB 127, definitely recessive   (Ax Ay no lamb photos)   is grandsire of a set of triplets (two  n/c one white).  “Cary” we are now quite sure is Albl Adbl.  “Sangria” was called by Maggie Albl Adbl or Albl Aa.  His  lambs here suggest that his second allele at agouti besides Albl  is Aa.  This is a good place to thank Maggie and Dee and Melissa for their patient scrutiny of  lamb  photos on which the rest of us depend for guidance.  

Pictures of the lambs can be seen on the  Romney Recessive yahoo group in the Anchorage 2016 album,  with discussion of proposed agouti allele pairs (“genotype”) on the list serve.  Three lambs (one ewe and two rams) are agreed-upon by all those who commented to express a light blue allele over a darker one that could be either self or dark blue.  All the others look like dark blue paired with dark blue or self.  All eleven have symmetric “teardrops.”

 We are extremely interested in having some of these rams and at least one of the three ewe lambs go into other programs that make a point of  recessively-colored Romneys.  The color-carrying white ewe lambs could also come in handy for someone who has a recessively-colored ram they like and wants to play the 50-50 odds of getting recessively patterned lambs from that union.

 There are too many pictures (over fifty) to post here.  We have a table that shows all the recessive lambs and white color-carriers by sex and parentage and proposed agouti allelotype with comments on “spotting.”  We’re happy to send this to anyone by e-mail, as it does not fit into this space.  Glad also  to provide pictures of  individuals   if you are not on “Maggie’s List,”  which we strongly recommend you join.  Give a call to Graeme 845 399 2379 to get more information and arrange a time to come to the farm if you are close enough.   If you are far away, call anyway.

1415ltEye    To the left is a photo of 1415 showing his left-sided teardrop. Symmetric teardrops like this one are all he sports of white except a small white tuft  on left side of brow that  may be spotting.  No white on tail tip.  Dam is Awt Aa E+ E+ Sire is “Cary”  Consensus of comments on Romney Recessive list re 1415:  Adbl Aa E+ E+ .    This lamb illustrates the value of having white color carrier ewes that are Awt Aa E+E+.  His sire was called by Maggie either Albl Aa or Albl Adbl.  This lamb, though you can’t see it from this picture alone, is definitely Ax Aa but has too little white display to be Albl Aa;  ergo, his Aa came from his dam and his other agouti allele has to be his sire’s darker agouti allele, adbl; ergo, his sire is Albl Adbl.

In praise of Awt Aa E+E+ ewes: such  don’t grow on trees, but they can be bred for if you are working with a ram you are sure is Aa Aa E+ E+.  I am so glad that Maggie Howard advised us to start our recessive program a few years ago with an Aa Aa  ram and sent  us a really good one. 






Pleasant surprise recessive ? lamb    posted 2014 but later retracted

“On March 9 [2014]  was born the natural-colored lamb with the most prominent symmetric and all-over display of white that we’ve ever had.  Lamb tag PT419   Neither parent was known to carry a color allele at agouti, but I queried the Romney recessive list, took their suggestions to shoot more photos and describe details hard to see in photos. Conclusion is that she probably is “recessive.” Genotype proposed by one very knowledgeable viewer is Albl A_ E+ E+. Not easy to see in photos but relevant is that the bottom rims of both ears to about halfway from skull to eartip have white fiber. There is a half-cm patch of white fiber in the center of both ears on the anterior aspect (“inside”). No white under the tail base and no white on the tail tip [emphasis added Jan 28 2018]. The lamb’s flock ID is 1295-14 Tw. She had a white male twin that we did not keep. Her call name is ‘Bronwyn.’    Bronwyn’s dam is 1007B. She looks like an extension dominant Romney. The dam’s sire we are near-certain is Ed Ed. It is not impossible that he is Ax A_ Ed Ed .  Even less likely, but not impossible, is that he is Ax Ay Ed Ed


The dam’s sire, pictured above, has a marked, very symmetric, arc of white that raises this possibility. Can color alleles “shine through” Ed?

The sire of PT419 is white with no clues in the previous several generations about the origins of the color allele at agouti we have to impute to him in believing PT419 to be recessive.

Below are pictures of PT 419 at about one week of age. (L to R) face from above; ventral aspect showing lateral stripes; left side; anterior aspect of neck showing white jabot; medial aspect rear legs; right side, showing swirls like left.

Of course we can’t be certain that she has two color alleles at agouti until we see her progeny by a ram of proven genotype. Her arrival has made clear to us the importance of early-life photos, which I had not understood at all until we came face to face with her. To many people this is old-hat, but not to us. Her unexpected arrival has given extra impetus to cultivate recessive color genes in our flock. We thank the Romney recessive listers who shared advice about her possible genotype — Christine, Dee, Del, and Maggie.”  [Here ends the posting from 2014.]


PT419 head shotPT419frontal head shotPT419rearlegsPT419LsidePT419necktiePT419Rside















Retraction!!  In 2015 I wrote on this web site “One year later we are reappraising [PT419].   She is very big to be recessive, and after 2015 conversations about “spotting” with recessive color mavens I have to say her facial white is probably spotting.  She did have in her lamb photos symmetric white displays that did not cross the midline and do suggest recessive patterning — in ears (not seen on these photos), ventral aspect and inside legs.  I’d now say odds are that she is extension dominant with a spotting display that mimics a recessive pattern remarkably.  There’s been a lot of good discussion on “Maggie’s list” about how troublesome (but how spectacular) spotting can be.    Common sense says get rid of spotting, but we don’t want to altogether.  We  have not decided how to breed her.”

Further news posted  March 2016.  “Still uncertain about the color alleles in Bronwyn, we thought it best to treat her as Ed with homozygous spotting  SsSs  and bred her to our  Extension-dominant ram.  In mid-Feb she had natural-colored twins (with no white evident on them)  unattended  but did nothing for them.  Graeme found them both dead.  We decided not to forgive her this failure even though it was her first lambing and we won’t keep her.  Looking at the pictures, however, I am still struck by the symmetry of the white display  that does not cross the midline.  There are no “teardrops” although the facial saltire (chi or St Andrew’s cross) is so big it could perhaps mask low hanging blobby ones.  Circumstantial evidence has to support the call of   A_ A_Ed E_ Ss Ss  but she certainly is a good mimic of  AxAy E+ E+ Ss Ss and we will keep her story public as instructional.”

Update (2018) to the retraction is to recall that Dee in 2014 expressed worry that the facial pattern was due to spotting, but [perhaps to avoid raining on my parade] tilted slightly to recessive.  I think she was right from the start.  Looking in Jan 2018 at the photos from 2014,  I note (a) though I then called a “chi” blazon (or saltire or St Andrew’s cross) this was not a good example.  The the upper V is completely filled with white.  (b) More important, though, the photo shows the contrast between the bright white that we now think was spotting and the more tan splotch of the cap posterior to the white.  The tan, duller, cap  may be a characteristic of  extension dominant Romneys that is due neither to spotting nor to the agouti locus. Dee and I and Maggie are these days wondering about its nature.  Whatever it is, it contrasts markedly in hue  to the imperfect chi.

Also posted in 2015, unrelated to the lamb I wrongly thought recessive. was this note: “Our recessive program ran aground this year when we concluded from his progeny that the solid handsome colored ram we believed to be AxAyE+E+  probably  has one Ed.  I hasten to say that the eight ewes he was exposed to were not chosen to be the set that would give most information about whether he has an Ed allele; we simply assumed he did not, gave him only ewes we knew to have one or two color alleles at agouti (There are not many of those in our flock now) .  He almost certainly has at least one color allele at agouti but the probable Ed makes that un-findable.  We are taking some big steps  to keep going in the right direction.   Stay with us.”