October 2019 – Deborah Hunter, Karakul Shepherds Alliance Founder and Registrar, presented at TLC (The Livestock Conservancy) Annual Conference in Santa Rosa, California. Although all of us were significantly impacted by the Northern California Kincaide Fire complex and the conference center was evacuated the next day, Deborah presented on Counting Sheep – Finding Rare Bloodlines and Hidden Pockets of Diversity .
Abstract: Between her 1980s to 90s shepherding experiences and finishing graduate school, Deborah became aware of the negative effects of Karakul flock book closure on both sheep and shepherds. Karakuls are easy care, fat-tailed sheep that thrive in tough conditions. The network of collaborative breeders disappeared when the flock book closed, but isolated sheep flocks remained and were bred pure for decades. Genetics became concentrated, but the breeders did not know who or where the sheep were. During this presentation Deborah will outline the methods used to collect census data, the perfect time of year to conduct a shepherd survey, and questions that gave highest value in the final report. She will talk about historic Karakul bloodlines, new bloodlines and the different types of lines, the “hidden” flocks located, and how our shepherd demographic has changed. Watch the video to see what was found during the census and the Un-census! (47 minutes long, Q&A not recorded. It’s also available on the Alliance News webpage.)