The Open Flockbook Project is pleased to announce a significant addition to the pedigree database. Over the last few weeks, we have been privileged to have on loan the records of all Soay sheep previously registered with the International Dairy Goat Registry. With the permission and encouragement of Emily Yoder, the current IDGR owner and president, we have integrated the IDGR data into the OFP.
The 130 IDGR registrations revealed 73 "new" Soay sheep — animals previously completely unknown. In addition to welcoming these new members of the Soay family to the OFP, we were able to glean a wealth of new information on early Soay in Canada and the U.S. — animals that previously had been in the OFP database in name only, usually as a distant ancestor, but without data as to parentage, birth date, single/twin births, and so forth. In many cases the records allowed us to resolve ambiguities or confirm assumptions we have had to make from time to time as the OFP database grew, one pedigree at a time. The IDGR-registered animals consist of sheep from fifteen different flocks, including several Canadian flocks from the 1980s and 1990s: Cameron Graham's Barachel Acres in Alberta; Blair McRae's Soay Haven, also in Alberta; Dick Gardiner's flock in British Columbia; and the Berci/Phoenix flock in Athelstan, Quebec.
You may wonder what on earth Soay sheep are doing in the International Dairy Goat Registry. The answer seems to be simple expediency. When Bob and Mary Ellen Johnson acquired their foundation flock from Canada (via South Carolina) in 1988, there were only a few other Soay sheep in the U.S., and certainly no Soay breed organization or registry the Johnsons could turn to. The SOA registry, for example, was not begun until more than a decade later. Since the Johnsons already owned goats and ran the goat registry, they created the "Sheep Registry Division" and began registering Soay sheep. The first of these was Pine Cone Valley Mrs. Tam. Her IDGR registration certificate indicates she was bred at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, sold to the Johnsons on November 9, 1988, and registered with the new IDGR-SRD as “S-01” on December 15, 1988.
The single most gratifying revelation from the IDGR records is the possibility that for the first time, specific named and partially-documented Soay sheep derived from the Assiniboine flock are known. A key piece of data, birth dates, unfortunately does not appear on these early certificates, but the registrations for five of the foundation animals in the Pine Cone Valley flock (Mrs. Tam, Cinnamon, Sonora, Wind Song, and FC) show them as having been bred at Assiniboine. If so, these four ewes and one ram from Assiniboine would represent the earliest Soay sheep in North America for which we have records.
A complete listing, by registration number, of the IDGR-registered Soay sheep is available here or by clicking the right-hand button above.
We acknowledge with deep gratitude Emily Yoder's generosity in loaning us her files and photographs. We especially appreciate Emily's patience with us as we worked our way through the old records. In sorting out inconsistencies and anomalies between the IDGR and OFP records, we were aided by the chronologies of Soay sheep in Canada and the U.S. going back to 1980s compiled by Kathie Miller.
Note: Those of you whose Soay sheep descend from any of the east coast foundation flocks (e.g., Pine Cone Valley, Out of the Woods, Kelmscott) may find that the pedigrees for your animals shown in the online OFP database have been extended or corrected. In such cases, we will be pleased to provide replacement Certificates — just let us know.