Bienvenue chez Spered Breizh Ouessants. La race est originaire de l’île d’’Ouessant qui fait parti d’un petit archipel au large du Finistère, Bretagne. L’île de l'épouvante comme c'était connu par certains était balayé par les intempéries de l’atlantique, ces moutons rustiques s'adaptaient à survivre sur les pâturages pauvres des falaises salées. C’était les femmes de l’île qui élevaient les moutons réputés pour leur laine noire à tisser « la berlinge » une étoffe régionale et leur viande avec un goût doux et délicat.
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mercredi 6 février 2013
Forensics (2) - Grey Day
One mechanism often overlooked for producing colour in the Ouessant is age greying. From sutble shading to sometimes quite striking effect it is often to be found in evidence even in relatively young sheep.
In terms of the genetics of age greying it is strongly familial and thought to be dominant. Its identification can sometimes be difficult when considered along side other genetics such as the colour modifying gene but it has one defining feature and that is the prescence of white fibres which are most obviously secondary fibres. In the Ouessant with its primitive double fleece this can be useful in confirming identification.
Historical confirmation for age grey comes in one beautifully observed text of The Mouton Breton from 1860. I have previously posted the text in its entirety HERE but the relevant phrase reads.
"Quelques-uns sont gris ; ceux-là ont ordinairement la laine dure et longue et ressemblant à du crin"
The reference to age grey becomes immediately clear with the qualification that the greys have a wool which is hard, long and resembles horsehair. It is the reference to secondary or hair fibres that makes this text so descriptive. The "grey" described is typical of age grey - a white and black mix of secondary fibres and is most striking in those Ouessants with coarser less woolly fleece.
Both this photo and the above photo are of black Ouessants each has a different fleece and yet they both share a coarse differentiated secondary fibre and each is uniformly "grey" all over. I have yet to come to any definative conclusions on age grey genetics but there is a similarity of presentation that has me asking plenty of questions with regards to age grey its inheritance and expression with various fleece types.
Interestingly in this sample of berlinge from a black Mouton des landes de Bretagne it is possible to see the coarser white fibres in the weave, age greying is extremely common in the breed. I personally make no selection for or against age-greying, historically it would appear that selection has been based on utilisation by colour and / or fibre type for different purposes and not in eradicating age grey.