Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true there are now three registries issuing certificates for Karakul sheep in the US?   Unfortunately yes.

The Alliance came together to find the Karakul flocks since the subsequent AKSR Registrar closed the flock book, soon after the Registry was purchased from Julia DeVlieg in 2000. In 2005 three passionate Karakul breeders, Deborah Hunter, Washington, Joe Schukar, Nebraska, and Julia DeVlieg, Washington, started brainstorming about a solution for the ‘left out flocks’. After one start in 2007 (domain names but no work completed) we launched the Karakul Shepherds Alliance blog/website in 2014, along with Letty Klein, Michigan. We knew we would need to offer registry services. Janie Cheers wanted to be a Registrar, so she joined our project. Soon after we got our whole Registry picture finalized in summer 2015, Ms. Cheers disconnected from us, not understanding what we were trying to accomplish. The registry documents we had drafted were re-purposed by her for the third registry, Karakul Sheep Association.

After forms were re-designed and uploaded in August 2016 Deborah Hunter has been issuing registration certificates for the Karakul Shepherds Alliance.  The state of Washington has licensed Karakul Shepherds Alliance as a sole proprietorship business. The Alliance will always have a team of specialized Advisors to assist with registration evaluations, drafting and editing of printed materials, research, and advice on all things related to Karakul sheep.

Three registries cannot be good for US Karakul sheep. Are there any plans to bring everyone together?   Possibly. We are hopeful. We will continue to advance the coming together of US Karakul registries under one umbrella, while working with the Livestock Conservancy for guidance.

What makes The Alliance different from the other two Karakul registries?   We are interested in ALL Karakul flocks in North America. We have an Open flock book because we have a special concern for landrace flocks, those which have been isolated for several years without additional bloodlines. We have the experience, knowledge, and sensitivities to evaluate Karakul sheep for entry into our Registry. At the same time we would like to get in touch with shepherds of Karakul flocks who have not registered their sheep for a number of years—to reconnect, get a Karakul count, exchange information, and offer a Registry service, should they have a need or desire for certificates.

Why is The Alliance interested in these isolated flocks?   Isolated flocks are especially interesting because of the possibilities of finding ‘new blood’, but also because it brings these breeders into the fold. That’s how it was with the AKSR before 2000. When Julia DeVlieg started the AKSR in 1985 it seemed many breeders had an isolated flock and very few of them knew more than two other breeders who had Karakuls. Most of these isolated landrace flocks were beautiful Karakul sheep, line-bred for generations.

Why is The Alliance conducting an annual Karakul census?   We are working with the Livestock Conservancy to get a more accurate Karakul population count. We do not believe annual lamb registrations are an accurate summary of Karakul sheep numbers in this country. Many of us know at least one breeder, usually more, who has not registered lamb crops in several years, for a variety of reasons. We would like to count these flocks, small and large, registered and unregistered. This would give us a closer approximation of the total American Karakul sheep population.

The Livestock Conservancy recommends an annual history including flock additions in order to register sheep from landrace flocks.

Tell me more about The Alliance’s registrations.   Let’s face it; the registration process can be arduous for Karakuls. Each individual sheep can be so unique with numerous characteristics to identify—lamb pelt, ear length, tail size, color, horns, etc. We have tried to simplify the process while still cataloging the characteristics that make an individual Karakul distinctive. We no longer ask for lamb pelt identifiers unless the breeder would like to have them recorded in the text portion of the certificate.

Why do you ask about other sheep breeds and crossbreeding on the Farm & Flock form and the Karakul Census?   Because The Alliance has an Open Registry and we are evaluating non-registered Karakuls for entry into our flock book, we need to do the best job we can to make sure they are as pure-blooded as possible. Karakuls are a very distinctive sheep breed and many of their characteristics dominate genetically. However, when outcrossed with another breed the Central Asian fat-tail and lamb pelt disappear for a generation or two. This is part of the evaluation process that Alliance Advisors will undertake when evaluating new sheep from unregistered or landrace flocks for possible entry into The Alliance flock book. We took the advice from the Livestock Conservancy – We would like to know if there is another breed of sheep on the farm.

Is there a membership fee to join The Alliance?   No. We do not see the need for a fee to join us. In lieu of a membership fee we are asking for a little information on your flock and farm. If you would like to be part of the Karakul Shepherds Alliance, we ask that you provide this information annually via the Farm & Flock Form or online at the Karakul Census. At the bottom a question asks if you would like your farm contact information listed on the Alliance Breeders page. Answering Yes will give your farm or ranch free advertising on our Website. You do not need to register individual sheep to have your flock listed. We will appreciate any donations, which will be put towards website costs and advertising in sheep and agriculture publications.

Please spread the word, telling every Karakul breeder you know about The Alliance and ask them to join us at the Karakul Census for the count of American Karakul sheep. Thank you.

Julia and Deborah

We are interested in your comments, suggestions, ideas, requests that you might have regarding this project. Please connect with us via a Blog post  or email in private: info@karakulshepherds.org   Thank you.

Page last updated March 2018

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