The Open
Flockbook Project
About the Open Flockbook Project

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The following statement was written many years ago. It was taken down from the website years ago for a variety of reasons. It still reflects our original purposes in setting up this website. However it is out of date here and there, and we are no longer able to provide every service it describes.


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 genealogy of Soay sheep in North America: their ancestors, their descendants, 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 and to enable quantitative analyses based on the 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. For some buyers, 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 world.

We welcome all comers. The OFP is essentially a pedigree-driven database. We are eager to include sheep bred by you so long as they are descended from RBST-registered sheep or from North American Soay that are already in the OFP database.

Services Provided by the Open Flockbook Project

The OFP provides an on-line version of the database, nice-looking Pedigree Certificates, and consultation as time permits.

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

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.

The On-Line Flockbook

The web-based version of the OFP database 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. The display for a given animal also highlights its common ancestor, providing a quick-and-dirty look at potential inbreeding issues. 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.

Pedigree Certificates

We provide participating breeders and subsequent owners with Pedigree Certificates for their animals. We send them as PDFs via email.

Additional Reports and Analyses

A number of listings and analyses may be available to OFP participants on request and as our time permits. For example &hellip

We distribute reports and analyses as PDF files via e-mail attachments.


We are 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 collecting information on the ancestry of not only 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 to fill in gaps.

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.


The Open Flockbook Project is entirely voluntary. Although the online version of the OFP database is available to anyone, whether or not they enter 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 to provide updated information about your sheep and lambs on an ongoing and timely basis.

As a participant you can enjoy the benefits of Pedigree Certificates, customized reports and analyses, and consultation.

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

Easy. Just call or email to let us know you want to participate. We probably can work with whatever system you use to keep track of your sheep. Once we know we can tie your sheep into the existing database, you can send the required information via spreadsheets, your 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. Please remember that in order to enter your sheep, we must be able to create a pedigree for them by connecting them to Soay that are already in the database

So, if you're interested, contact us!