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Four Teated Sheep

Alexander Graham Bell (first person to patent the telephone) was one of the first people to record the existence of sheep with extra teats – noting in his flock that initially these animals also tended to be more fertile.

Within the UK strains of sheep with four functional teats have also been identified; proving of interest to both farmers and academic.

Alun Davies has kindly allowed us to reproduce his publication on the “Performance of ewes selected to have four functional teats”

He has identified that ewes with extra teats can be found in many breeds but the amount of milk produced from these is only occasionally substantial. The aim of this breeding project was to investigate the possibility of developing a ewe with four functional teats.

From this work he observed that it has been possible to create and maintain a true breeding four-teat flock. Although almost all ewes have functional front teats, the amount of milk produced from them continues to be very variable and so offers selection opportunities. Fore udder development appears to be an important feature of front teat yield.

Article: Performance of ewes selected to have four functional teats

About the author

Samuel Boon

Samuel Boon

I am the Manager of Signet Breeding Services, within the AHDB.

Enthusiast on all things genetics to do with sheep and cattle and currently also supporting Bridget Lloyd in running the @RamCompare progeny test with ~18,000 lambs/annum.

I am also involved with the:-

  • Relaunch of Terminal Sire Breeding Programmes (Sheep)
  • AHDB lead for the Welsh Sheep Breeding Project run by HCC - working with Innovis, HCC and Janet Roden
  • Database design and development for this website
  • National Sheep Breeds Survey
  • Development of Carcase Trait EBVs in Beef Cattle
  • Formerly involved with the delivery of the Welsh Sheep Strategy, Northern Upland Sheep Strategy, Suckler Cow Project, Highlands and Islands Sheep Strategy

I can be followed on Twitter @SamBoonBreeding