Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sheep breeding for science geeks

Aimee, ever the biology professor, has been keeping a lab book on our farm livestock and every year or so makes up a pedigree for the sheep. She uses it in class to teach genetics. This is the latest. Just click on the link to enlarge. A big "X" means a lamb that died soon after birth. The brown shapes are brown sheep, white shapes are white sheep. Round is female, square is male.

We men are so square.

Notice there is a little inbreeding going on. Some of this was the previous owners -- we only are responsible for the second and third generations. These are organized by generation, not by year, although you can tell which year our lambs are by the first letter of their name:

M = 2007
N = 2008
P = 2009
Q will be 2010

But we've had a few difficulties keeping Abe separated from his daughters and granddaughters, the dirty old bugger. Now he's gone, we won't miss that problem.

I also notice that we have twin lambs about as often as we have singletons, and that Tillie has only ever had white lambs, although Tillie's daughter Molly who is white has had a black lamb.

Black coat color is supposed to be a recessive gene. Tillie must be homozygous for the dominant white trait, while Molly her daughter must be heterozygous.

Very cool. I like it when we have well-organized sheep. And if you think this is geeky, you should see Aimee's egg data, where every egg ever laid on the farm is weighed and recorded.

Or the planting data. Every seed, every variety, every row.

I'm surprised she doesn't have a lab book for me. She probably does. Just keeps it hidden somewhere in case it freaks me out.

I'm not immune. I have a record of every check ever written to pay a bill since we were married, as well as spreadsheets of house energy use data and a heat energy model for the house that tells me whether or not the building envelope and insulation is performing to specifications.

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