Breed Standards

RAMS Long, bold, masculine appearance and carriage with strong bone and of robust character
EWES Appearance bright, with feminine characteristics
HEAD Polled, broad open white face, open nostril, with dark to black pigmentation on nose and lips preferable, but not essential.  Brown nose and lips is unacceptable and should be discouraged.  Head to be well covered with white hair
EYES Bold, preferably with eyelids pigmented, but not brown and well covered with hair.
MOUTH

Even well set jaw with teeth meeting a wide pad with a firm bite

EARS Medium size, white and firm, well covered with hair
NECK Medium length, muscular on rams, moulding into the shoulders finer towards the head and such that the sheep can hold its head in an alert position
SHOULDERS Shoulder blades should be slightly lower than the spine and sloping away to a smooth setting without excessive movement when walking.
BACK AND LOIN Broad, long and straight, with well-sprung ribs
HINDQUARTERS Full, wide and deep, with flesh extending to the hocks, and well muscled thighs
TAIL Short tails are desirable and encouraged in the breed. They remove the need for tailing and are a good animal welfare aspect, saves time and labour without any detrimental effect on the breed. Tail length should not be shorter than 100mm and preferably free of curl and twists along the tail.
TAIL SETTING Well set up, almost level with the topline
LEGS AND PASTERNS Medium length, well placed at the four quarters and free moving, straight between the joints, with strong bone and with pasterns well set up and straight.
FEET Preferably black but white feet are acceptable with a compact neat structure.
HAIR AND WOOL Fine ‘down’ type wool, short, dense and firm handling. Hair to be smooth, soft and white.  Ideal shedding is from 60% to fully shed to suit most environments and to avoid shearing, crutching and dagging, unless for welfare needs
TESTICLES Rams 10 months of age should have a recommended minimum scrotal circumference of 30 cm
LAMB PROGENY Displaying high growth, high lean meat yield
RAMS Long, bold, masculine appearance and carriage with strong bone and of robust character
DEFECTS See “Guidance to Breeders and Inspectors”

GUIDANCE TO BREEDERS AND INSPECTORS

INTRODUCTION:

In order to carry out the purposes of the UltraWhite Sheep Breeders of Australia Inc as set out in the Statement of Purposes and Rules and Regulations, it is necessary at times to appoint Inspectors. The purpose of this chapter is:

    1. To assist Breeders and Inspectors and Judges to achieve a uniformity of interpretation of Association regulations and breed standards.
    2. To help the Inspector in his approach to his task.
    3. To give the Breeder and the Show Exhibitor an understanding of the Inspector’s task.

The description of an UltraWhite sheep on the preceding page portrays the ideal for which every breeder should aim. However, in the breeding of UltraWhites or any animals for that matter, certain faults will inevitably appear.

To assist members in the breeding of the ideal ultraWhite and in the elimination of defective qualities, the UltraWhite Sheep Breeders Association of Australia Inc considers the following defects of major importance, though not in order of priority.

    1. Faulty mouths
    2. Unsound testes
    3. Bareness of eye lids and facial skin
    4. Paper thin ears
    5. Straight or sickle hocks any physical weakness such as hockiness
    6. Faulty pasterns and twisted feet
    7. Legs bent between joints
    8. Excessive fat on carcase
    9. Heavy shoulders
    10. Complete pollness is encouraged though small scurs are acceptable. Heavy scurs exceeding 25mm in width or thickness are not desirable.  Scurs should not be rigidly attached to the skull and should not be sold as a stud ram or used in stud sheep breeding

TYPES OF INSPECTIONS:

Inspectors may be appointed by the Association to carry out a variety of tasks, such as –

  • the inspection of rams presented for a flock ram auction sale;
  • stud ewes and rams presented for stud auction sales;
  • sheep presented for exhibition at shows;
  • sheep being exported from the country;
  • the inspection of a Breeder’s entire flock to be carried out on the Breeder’s property;
  • the inspection of a Breeder’s entire flock for dispersal by auction or private treaty.

AIMS:

In broad terms, the aims and objects of the inspections are:

Firstly to protect and maintain the good name and the accepted standards of type, quality and purity of the Breed; and secondly to help and advise Association members on all matters relating to the Association and the UltraWhite Breed. To achieve these aims, the Inspection should:

    1. be thoroughly conversant with the Association Statement of Purposes and Rules and Regulations, paying particular attention to Regulations 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.
    2. be thoroughly conversant with the “Standard of Excellence of UltraWhite Sheep” and the defects listed (a) to (i) above.
    3. be thoroughly conversant with the various abnormalities of the testes including size. In inspecting for abnormalities, the Inspector should always give the ram the benefit of any doubt, only rejecting positively identifiable abnormalities, or upon the opinion of a qualified sheep veterinarian.

THE STUD SALE AND SHOW INSPECTOR

The pre-show Inspector is often acting in the dual capacity of representative of the Show Society, as well as the Breed Association. In addition to ensuring that each exhibit conforms to the standard of type and soundness laid down by the UltraWhite Sheep Breeders Association of Australia Inc, he must also see that each exhibit conforms to the rules of the Show Society with relation to fairness of preparation, correct age for class, etc.

INTERPRETATION:

Some Inspections, Breeders and Judges have been at a variance with regard to the interpretation of type, colour, mouths, wool, hair, scur growth. This is understandable and must be expected and even accepted, up to a point. Such differences of opinion among Breeders exist in all breed societies. However, it is possible to minimise confusion by agreeing on broad principles in some cases, and by having explicit regulations in others.

  1. Type

The combination of two, three or more minor defects can sometimes make an animal so “off type” as to reach culling point. For instance, an otherwise good ram could have bent front legs, paper-thin hairless ears and perhaps a rather effeminate head – a combination which would give no chance in stud company. However, any one of these defects in an otherwise good animal, could be passed if the ram was strong in most other points of excellence.

  1. Pigmentation

Registered UltraWhite sheep’s feet can be from white to streaky black to pure black hooved.  Wool and hair shall be white with pink skin apart from nose, lips, eye rims, anal and vulva areas’

  1. Wool and Hair Cover

Wool should be fine, short down type, dense and firm handling.  Hair should be dense, fine, smooth and soft with at least 50% of hair to wool in the coat being beneficial.  Coarse hair is undesirable and should be culled.  The breech, belly and tail should shed free of wool each year.  A fully shed animal is optional.  Ideal shedding is from 60% to fully shed to suit most environments.  The level of shedding is required to avoid shearing, crutching and dagging, unless for welfare needs.  Shearing for exhibition, show or sale is discouraged as it goes against the intention of the breed to remove wool by breeding rather than mechanically removing it.  Felting of wool cover is an undesirable feature and should be avoided

  1. Feet and Legs

Soundness of the feet and legs is of tremendous importance. Splayed feet, weak pasterns, bowed legs, turned in knees or hocks, straight hocks, bulldog shoulders are all hereditary weaknesses that should make a cull of an otherwise good animal if the weakness is pronounced.

  1. Mouths

In describing a good mouth, the lower jaw should not be longer than the upper, nor should it be shorter to the extent where the teeth bite on the roof of the mouth, or on the line of demarkation between the roof and the pad. The teeth themselves should be flat and chisel shaped and should meet the pad with a firm bite.

The perfect mouth is easily recognised. However, perfection of any character is not easily attained, and it would be foolish to lay down inflexible regulations demanding perfection or nothing. We must of course always aim at perfection, but our regulations should allow reasoned compromise if they are to be practicable and useful.

And this is where the problem arises. If we do not demand perfection, what is an acceptable mouth? And can we interpret this uniformly?

Before attempting to suggest an acceptable standard for mouths that are not perfect, the possible defects should be recognised and understood.

Defects of the Mouth and their relative Importance:

  1. The long bottom jaw: (overshot) is usually quite noticeable in profile before the mouth is opened. This is a serious hereditary defect, is quite unacceptable, and there should be no question that such an animal should be rejected and culled.
  2. The short bottom jaw: (undershot) is also usually quite apparent in profile. If, on inspecting the mouth, the teeth do not meet the pad, but the roof of the mouth, then this animal also should be culled regardless of other qualities. Again, this is a serious hereditary defect and quite unacceptable.
  3. Forward teeth: teeth from a good bottom jaw, sometimes do not meet the pad with a good firm bite. There are three main reasons why the teeth of a healthy sheep may come forward of the pad:
    • Cutting teeth – the bottom jaw of a sheep in the process of cutting his first two permanent teeth is usually swollen and inflamed and temporarily can give the appearance of being forward.

The problem is – how much latitude to give in such a case. It is suggested that, if in your opinion as an Inspector, the mouth will return to normal after cutting, then pass it. If, in your opinion, the mouth will definitely remain a bad one, then reject it. If both you and your fellow inspectors are doubtful (and a careful examination of the side milk teeth may help you reach a decision) then pass it.

  • Feed mouths – the same principles can be applied to those rams which because of long period of shed feeding, away from their natural bite, grow elongated teeth that soon begin to push forward over the pad. Although excuses can be made for such a mouth, it is not good, and breeders who present sheep with feed mouths must accept the possibility that their entry may be rejected.

The upshot is that a feed mouth is usually the first signs of a genetic weakness in the jaw structure of the animal concerned.  Use of such an animal should be discouraged to ensure the problem of overshot mouths doesn’t manifest itself in future generations, leading to more prevalent overshot problems.

To give a more practical assessment, it is suggested that if the mouth is closed gently, and the teeth touch the front of the pad – it is not a case for rejection. If, however, there is an obvious gap between teeth and pad then rejection would normally follow.

  • Age – it is true that the tendency to develop imperfect mouths increases with age and it would seem that a slightly less severe interpretation with regard to forward teeth could be applied sensibly in the aged classes. However, there should be no compromise with defective lower jaws.

Warning Comments:

Notwithstanding the foregoing remarks, attention is drawn to the following facts:

  1. There have been many rams prepared for many shows which have retained perfect mouths to the end.
  2. Many rams cut their teeth retaining a good mouth throughout the cutting period.
  3. Many sheep retain good mouths, with teeth biting hard on the pad to good old ages. If some sheep can do these things, stud breeders should take critical notice of those that do not – and their family strains.
  4. Occasionally during cutting period, the gum may become infected, and so swollen as to make a one reasonable mouth look very bad indeed. The owner of such an animal would be well advised to leave him home until recovered. Inspectors are not prophets and cannot assess such a mouth, and even if they passed it, which they should not do, the Judge cannot consider it on the day.
  5. Some breeders, when seeing a short bottom jaw, will remark “He will be all right when he cuts his teeth”. It is true that the slight pig-jaw will often look reasonably passable after he has cut his teeth. Such rams may be acceptable as flock rams, but Breeders and Inspectors should be aware that these rams carry the harmful recessive gene for short or pig-jaws and they should always be rejected from Show or Stud Sales fixtures.

Summary:

  • Inspectors should reject defective lower jaws – long or short – without compromise.
  • When the jaw is good, leave minor teeth variations in the capable hands of the Judge.
  • Give a good sheep the benefit of a doubt.
  • As a Judge – a good mouth should be given full credit over a doubtful mouth – even if the defect is considered to be a temporary
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