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.)
Dr. Norton and Page Jacobs of Coolidge, Arizona were truly Karakul Showmanship Pioneers. Even though they ‘passed over to the other side’ in May this year they have motivated me to re-start the Blog and re-vamp the website. Thank you for being such great teachers Norton & Page!
Page and Norton had already been showing Karakuls in California and the southwest years before Julia DeVlieg launched the new AKSR in late 1985. Several of us jumped at the chance to be part of her new group in 1986. But in a 1988 letter to Julia, Page noted that she had been invited to the really big shows like NAILE because of her show ring reputation. Page Jacobs had been winning big at big shows and fairs with her Karakuls. In the late 1980s East coast & Midwest Karakul breeders were just getting started. (NAILE is the North American International Livestock Exposition, a 2-week November show in Louisville, Kentucky.)
On top of her Karakul show reputation, Page was an amusing, easygoing, fascinating woman.
From ~ Robin Snyder, Kirkland, AZ, June 2019
My favorite Page story goes way back to LA county fair when I had only been showing a few years. A friend helped me show my sheep and she had handled one of my ram lambs. He was junior champion and was up for breed champion. Page and I stood on the sidelines. At the time I was in awe of Page and a bit intimidated. As we watched, Page said that she thought her yearling would win champion as he was undefeated. When the judge picked my ram lamb, Page was very surprised. She wondered whose lamb it was. I was too intimidated to admit that he was mine. Later, Page came over to me and was laughing “Now there I was sounding off about my yearling to you when your lamb beat him!” (Page thought it was hilarious!)
Check out another Page & Norton story in our Newsletter, issue Summer 2019.
I would love to collect other Page & Norton stories. Please feel free to add to our collection by clicking on Leave a Comment (up top by the title).
Karakul Shepherds Alliance is in the News. Julia and Deborah have been busy writing. We have had some good timing along the way from major US sheep magazines to get the word out about the Alliance and what it is doing to help Karakul breeders come together and have their sheep recognized and counted.
Fall 2016, PRESS RELEASE: Karakul Shepherds Alliance in the Black Sheep Newsletter, proceeded by Letty Klein’s introduction of the Alliance in her front page article Michigan Shepherding (with COLOR photos)
The Winter 2016-2017 front page photo was a bit different this season, so thought I would provide some details before question marks popped up.
The place is Uzbekistan. The sheep are most likely Karakuls. They sure do look like it. The photo was taken by Rick Misterly of Rice, Washington, a neighbor 5 miles down the road from Julia DeVlieg’s Anakus Karakuls. Date is the 1987 Peace Fleece Trip. What is Peace Fleece?
Since 1985 Peace Fleece International is still going strong. Peace through Fleece.
This website is a project dedicated to the awesome spirit and unique qualities of the sheep known as Karakul. The Karakul Shepherds Alliance is less an organization and more a statement of the bond that exists between those who care for and love these precious ones.
We are attempting to solve a problem. For more than a decade there has been much concern for the drastic decline in Karakul sheep and the shepherds who raise them in the US.
To start to address this situation, within this website, we are offering three services. Please go to the ABOUT page for a detailed introduction and overview.
Current messages and conversations follow in the BLOG. Older ones have been archived. Please feel free to participate.
Thanks for your interest in one of the most amazing animals on the planet! Anyone looking for Karakul sheep in North America is welcome to post a comment in the Contact Form at the bottom of the Sheep Wanted page. If you have Karakul sheep, check the Sheep Wanted page to see if you can fill the requests for breeding stock or meat. Expand your current market or help a fellow Karakul shepherd in neighboring states market theirs. If you know a Karakul breeder who might have what they are looking for, please point them to our website to connect with the requester.
We had been receiving requests for Karakul sheep from all over the US–California to West Virginia. Unfortunately these invitations are scattered across The Alliance website since interested shepherds were inspired to post on different pages. Consolidating the requests seemed like the way to go – Sheep Wanted is the latest Alliance Web page.
Thanks for your interest in one of the most amazing animals on the planet!
We are looking for Karakul flocks. We are long-time breeders who are concerned about the recent decrease in the American Karakul sheep population. We are very interested in the survival of the breed and encourage you to get in touch with us.
This site is for:
Please let us know what you need and what kind of help you would like from us. Feel free to post on a sheep topic of your choice. And please check back often.
It is mid-January 2016 and the Alliance Website and Blog are getting ready to serve Karakul breeders in 2016.
For a more detailed explanation of what we would like to accomplish please read our About page.
Elf-eared Karakul sheep! How many Karakuls have you had or seen with these ears? Click on Leave a Comment above and tell us. Better yet send us some pictures.
About one to two inches in length, they are named elf ears because of their diminutive size.
Different, charming, attractive. Take a look below. And check out more of the uniqueness of Karakul sheep at the Gallery of Ears page.
The Alliance’s main goals are:
For a more detailed explanation of our goals, please click on the About page.
We are interested in your comments, suggestions, ideas, and requests that you might have regarding this project. Please connect with us via this Blog post by clicking on Leave a Comment above, or email in private: email@example.com Thanks!
How often have you had to help a Karakul ewe give birth? It seems to me in talking with breeders over the years I hear similar comments “Karakuls are no trouble at lambing time.” “Karakul ewes have their lambs no problem at all .” Without records in front of me to confirm I still cannot remember assisting any more than two young ewes with big single lambs over 12 years of shepherding; and they were just pulls, no internal intervention. Those ewes most likely would have lambed on their own anyway. What has been your experience?