Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Plight of The Flett Shetland Sheep

In July 1948, George A. Flett of Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada imported three moorit ewes and one moorit ram from Shetland by way of the Orkney’s with the help of G. E. Anderson, a livestock agent in Lerwick, Shetland and a family friend John T. Flett in Orkney. They sailed on the SS Laurentia to Montreal, Quebec, Canada and then were moved by train to Fort Qu’Appelle where George and his son Peter went to pick them up.

The sheep were allowed to roam the Flett's property freely until they had problems with dogs attacking the sheep, at which point they were kept closer to the buildings.

"The Fletts operated their flock as a closed hobby flock with no particular management plan, breeding time, or goals. Because of this, some lambs were born in cold weather, were weak, and did not survive. They used a ram for 5 to 6 years and then switched to a younger ram. There were very few lambing problems. Most adults twinned and about half the lambs twinned. They culled all but the best rams, keeping only the best three. "Only the rams with the finest traits were kept, always two or three in case something should happen."  "All lambs with bad horns were culled." "The rest were slaughtered for meat." "All lambs were always straight moorit with no marking patterns. The life span was a high as 13-14 years, but averaged 10-11 years. Jean started working with the flock in 1982, trying to have a more organized program. The flock remained closed for nearly fifty years until Jean brought in a moorit Dailley ram in 1991." 

This ram is known as L.H.E. Flett Dailley, and was bought from Doreen McLean in Alberta, Canada.

At the time Linda Doane visited the Flett Farm (November 7th, 1992), she indicated that the composition of the Flett flock was as follows: One Dailley ram, One six year old ram and one three year old ram, both full Flett, six ram lambs sired by the Dailley ram, twelve adult ewes sired by a Flett ram, and six ewe lambs sired by the Dailley ram.

In 2002, Jean sold the last remaining ewes to Kathy Baker of Nier Lakes Shetlands. Kathy already had a flock of Shetland sheep. The ewes she got from Jean, a lot of them were already bred. The first lambs didn’t do so well because the ewes from Jean were in poor condition. But, Kathy had a “bumper crop” of lambs in 2004 and they are doing quite well. She changed her breeding program so that the Flett rams were bred to her Dailley ewes and not the Flett ewes.

There were a few other breeders along the way who also kept Flett stock, but all were eventually crossed with Dailley Lines.

 In 2005, Kathy Baker and Christine Greene collected the last remaining pure Flett ram, L.H.E. Flett Manson.

Currently, there is not much left of the Flett lines.

Photos of Flett Sheep:



Manson

Manson

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2 comments :

  1. Those wide sweeps sure don't look like "Shetland" horns today!

    ReplyDelete