The Open
Flockbook Project
About the Open Flockbook Project

Overview

The Open Flockbook Project tracks individual Soay sheep in North America for the benefit of interested keepers and breeders of these animals.

The OFP focuses on the genetics of Soay sheep in North America, their ancestors, their descendants, their phenotypic traits, and what it all means. We do not make subjective judgments about the merits or authenticity of a particular animal. Our purpose is to assemble accurate ancestries, to collect accurate and objective phenotypic descriptions, and to carry out quantitative analyses based on data. As with all such enterprises, the accuracy of the information we provide depends on the accuracy of the data that each breeder or owner reports.

The On-line OFP database allows owners and prospective owners to make their own judgments about a particular Soay sheep they currently own or are considering buying, using the pedigree information available here. The value of an animal is a reflection of its ancestors, the depth of its pedigree, and the reputations of the breeders involved. Most Soay owners consider the diverse backgrounds evident in the lambs that appear each spring to be one of the strengths of the Soay community here in North America. In other words, there is no single, one-size-fits-all standard appropriate to all corners of the North American Soay community.

We welcome all comers. We are eager to include Soay sheep that have been registered with one or more of the breed organizations. We are just as interested in sheep that have not been registered for whatever reason, such as sheep that are to be wethered or butchered, those that did not survive, and so forth.

Services Provided by the Open Flockbook Project

The OFP provides an on-line version of the database, high quality printed Certificates of Registration and Pedigree, printed reports and analyses, and consultation. We welcome your suggestions and requests. If you find any aspect of our services to be less helpful than it could be, we want you to share your concerns and suggestions with us. On the other hand, if you like what you find here, we hope you will spread the word however you can! The more participants we have, the more useful the project becomes for everyone.

There are no charges or fees, and we receive no compensation.

The On-Line Flockbook

We provide a web-based version of the OFP database that is available to anyone. The web version allows you to search for a specific Soay sheep by name, and examine its pedigree, reverse pedigree (offspring) and breeding history. You can also construct hypothetical pedigrees for offspring of matings you might be contemplating. This resource is freely available on-line for anyone to use, including those who do not yet own Soay but may be thinking of starting a flock.

Certificates of Registration and Pedigree

We provide participating breeders and subsequent owners with Certificates of Registration and Pedigree for their animals.

Additional Reports and Analyses

A number of listings and analyses are available to OFP participants on request. Beyond the examples listed here, many other queries and formats are possible, depending on your interests and needs.

We normally distribute reports and analyses as Acrobat (pdf) files delivered as e-mail attachments.

Consultation

Steve is available to consult with you as time permits on any aspect of your particular flock management and breeding goals.

A Brief History of the Open Flockbook Project

As we began to assemble our flock of Soay sheep in the summer of 2004, we gradually realized the importance of tracking the ancestors of our animals in as much detail as possible.  With the generous cooperation of several other Soay breeders, we began to build a database of descriptive information not only for each sheep we acquired, but also for hundreds of Soays other breeders had owned or simply knew about.  We also made use of the available SOA and RBST flockbooks.

It was immediately interesting to see how pedigrees began to tie together just a few generations back, and it soon became apparent that the analytical power and utility of the database grew as the number of interrelated animals that it contained grew.  In effect, we could search for traits and track patterns of inheritance in an extended family of more or less related animals all across North America. We could make lists of descendants, ancestors, siblings. We also were able to develop a much more detailed understanding of the genetic structure of the Soay population in North America generally, giving us objective criteria for evaluating our breeding program and assisting other breeders along the same lines. The result is the OFP.

We settled on the name "Open Flockbook Project" to reflect our goals, our values as Soay breeders, and our commitments to the greater Soay community. The guiding principle is the open and free exchange of information among breeders who recognize and endorse the value of sharing information about their sheep. We welcome inquiries from breeders interested in joining and sharing in this collaboration. It bears repeating that the broader the participation, the more valuable this resource will become for everyone.

Participation

The Open Flockbook Project operates on the basis of cooperation and free exchange of information among keepers and breeders of Soay sheep. Although some services we provide are available to anyone, whether or not they register their sheep in the OFP, it is our hope that all Soay breeders will share data about their sheep and thereby enjoy all of the services we provide, including those available only to participants.

There is only one basic requirement for participation in the OFP: You are expected to provide accurate and comprehensive data on all your Soay sheep for inclusion in the OFP database, including full pedigree and phenotype information, and to provide updated information about your sheep and lambs on an ongoing and timely basis.

In return for your commitment to the OFP, in addition to the on-line version of the OFP database and pedigrees, as a participant you can enjoy the benefits of customized reports and analyses, certificates, and consultation.

How Do I Enter My Sheep and Their Pedigrees in the OFP?

Easy. Just let us know you want to participate. Send us an email or call us. We will ask how many Soay you have, and how you keep your records. We can work with whatever system you use to keep track of your sheep. You can mail us copies of registration certificates, printed pedigrees, or even hand-written ones. Or, if you keep your records on computer, we can work directly with spreadsheet files, database files, or any of the common formats used to export from such files. Owners of small flocks often just type their information into an e-mail.

So, if you're interested, contact us!