News from Bucolick
Thoughts on my first 3 litters
I thought I’d reflect on the breeding choices that I’ve made for the first three litters at Bucolick. Somewhere on this website there’s an enthusiastic paragraph where I try to cover the core values that I hope to apply when breeding lapphunds. These values are great to read again later; to recognise those areas where it’s been hard to measure up, and on what points I have needed to compromise.
The breeding priorities for the Finnish Lapphund breed in Finland are revised every 4 years. A few years ago the FLCNSW produced an ‘Australianised version’ of these for our local context. The values are broadly similar but we thought it sensible to really express the reasons why frozen semen and reproductive technologies are of value for the breed in Australia, and the cultural reasons why can be particularly difficult to find diverse older sires here.
Another excellent set of principles for breeding is set out by Jeffrey Bragg of the now retired Seppala Kennels sled dog breeding program here and here . Jeffrey’s thoughts on population genetics in breeding remain perhaps the most accessible and thoughtful set of dog breeding guidelines in English on the internet.
So what minimum set of values did I identify as ‘core’?
Avoid inbreeding, however you define it.
Avoid popular sires
Carefully assess the health/temperament and diversity of multiple generations.
Use older sires (keep the generation time long for both sires and bitches.)
Aim for combinations that would be approved by the Breeding Committee in Finland.
The latter point is a proxy for all other breeding values, as the Breeding Committee tend not to approve matings that would not be of net benefit to overall breed health and diversity.
So how did I measure up?
B Litter: This litter passes, barely. Inko was 34 months old at time of mating. He’s hardly an older sire but there’s nothing terrible about the combination with 5yo Cheese.
W litter: Kodai was 16 months old at time of mating. The 8 gen COI for the litter is 4.7% which is acceptable in general terms but the combination pushes the limits of my own set of values. I learnt this when I was looking for an appropriate sire. The 4.7% COI made me wince. It didn’t stop me from choosing him but I now know my my own boundaries sit well below 6.75%. Cheese was 5.5 so her age is fine from both a population genetics and a bitch welfare perspective.
C litter. Definitely not a star peformance for population genetics because of the young age of both parents. Ghost was 18 months old at time of mating and Dazzle 19 months old. Even if the original mating that I had planned with Freya had gone ahead, the mating would have been at 22 months and 23 months of age for Freya and Dazzle respectively. I can’t blame Dazzle and Ghost for disregarding my breeding values because I was going to overlook them myself anyway. The COI of of 3.31% is OK. I'd like lower but it's going to be rare that I can achieve it. Most matings will be in the realm of 2-4%
I’m currently planning the fourth litter for Bucolick. If my litter plan is successful, I will once again be breaching one, of these core values. But a different one to the previous litters. I'm not disregarding: I’m most definitely considering all of the above values every time I make a choice. But the current plan is really not what I thought I’d choose when I started out in the breed