Saddleback — One of the Most Influential Ewes in North America

by Susan Briggs (2001)
Image of Saddleback (STS7A)

“Saddleback” STS7A (Yeoman Ewe BL/WT 7A 419949) who was named for her black saddle-spotting pattern, has influenced the Icelandic breed in North America because of the quality and quantity of her offspring. Not only is she prolific but her offspring are passing these attributes on to their progeny. In 8 years she has produced 14 lambs, 12 of which are registered (2,1,2,2,2,2,2,1). She was born and raised by Stefania Dignum of Yeoman Farm where she has spent her whole life. Her offspring in turn have produced 181 registered offspring so far. Since Saddle back is still producing the final count is yet to be tallied.

Saddleback is a spotted black polled twin carrying moorit, whose sire was imported ram Iceland Ram LV 723 (365256). Her dam was STS73X (Yeoman Ewe 73X 383669) who produced 4 wonderful ewe lambs: Saddleback, Saddleback’s littermate and full sister STS8A (6 registered offspring), STS18Z (had 12 lambs of which 10 were registered) and STS19Z (had 17 lambs of which 8 were registered). STS18Z and STS19Z were sired by a different sire, STS91X. All of these daughters of STS73X produced copious amounts of milk for their lambs, sometimes at the expense of their own bodies. Saddleback however, managed to stay in good condition while producing fabulous lambs.

Image of Saddleback (STS7A)

As a lamb she was offered for sale to Barbara Webb who passed her by. So, she has spent her whole life at Yeoman Farm. Saddleback started her 8 years of steady production as a 2 year old. She was bred to 8 different rams and all of the resulting offspring are outstanding. This is unusual as some bloodlines nick better than others and lambs sired by different sires will usually differ widely. But not so with Saddleback. All of her offspring have been outstanding. Interestingly, her lambing date is fairly consistent: April15, April 13th, April 18th, May 1st, April 15th, April 27th, April 20th. Her lifetime lambing average is 175 % so far.

Some of Saddleback’s offspring have developed a white nose spot with age. This is not true spotting as such but a white patch that develops on the top of the nose with age.

The quality of her lambs is reflected in the fact that most all of them have been registered, with the rams becoming top sires in several large flocks. Had the ram lambs not been of this top quality they would have surely gone to slaughter. You will notice that most named and treasured by their owners.

Year Ram Offspring

STS10A (Yeoman Ram Grey 10A 419965) — A grey son of STS11Z (see images below), a very productive ewe (produced 13 lambs of which 10 were registered lamb) who carried the gene for the non-silvering.

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This mating resulted in twins born on April 15th, 1993.

STS23C “Floss” (Yeoman Ewe Black 23C 443997) — A silvering black polled ewe with nose spot. Floss produced 11 lambs of which 5 are registered and was owned by Yvonne McDonald. Floss died in 2000 after producing her last 2 beautiful twins.

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STS24C “Fanny” (Yeoman Ewe Grey 24C 443998) — A black/gray polled ewe. She is owned by Jacque Rodgers and has produced 11 lambs of which 8 are registered. It was a photo of saddleback that sold Jacque on Icelandics.

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STS42C “Surtur” (Yeoman Ram Black 42C 444000) — A black polled ram with nose spot. Surtur was sold to Barbara Webb as a weanling but not before he was bred to Saddleback. Surtur’s dam was the prolific ewe STS27Y (produced 11 lambs in 6 years and then strangled on a gate. Six of her lambs were registered). Surtur has always been the king of the ram pen at Jager Farm and has been a fabulous ram in his own right producing big deep-bodied offspring.

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This mating resulted in a single ram lamb born April 13th, 1994.

STS3D “Mocum” (Yeoman Ram Moorit 3D 453703) — A moorit scurred ram with nose spot. Mocum was Saddleback’s first single and was named for his fleece that was liberally sprinkled with white fiber, which gave him a color like coffee with cream. He never silvered out but remained this color all of his life. He had small scurs that were soon knocked off in fights with other rams. Mocum had a gorgeous thel rich fleece and passed this trait to his lambs. He was bought by Tongue River Farm as a weanling and remained there all of his life. He sired 99 registered lambs before his death in 2000.

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Mocum had more than his share of testosterone and never went out of the rut even in the summer. He had a strong rammy smell year around, which made the ewes swoon and brought them into heat quickly. He was potent and settled his ewes in their first heat.

The first time I AIed ewes I turned Mocum in as a clean-up ram at 5 days post AI. I figured that he wouldn’t have much work to do. How wrong I was. Mocum with his strong smell brought about ½ of the AI ewes back into heat and he bred 27 of them in 48 hours. They produced a 200% lamb crop!!!

While he was a bossy ram, he learned quickly that he could not win a battle with horned rams so never challenged them again but non-the-less was one of the kings in the ram pen.

He threw his fabulous rich color, well balanced thel rich fleece to his offspring along with his thick meaty deep body. He also gave them great productivity, easy lambing and good milk production. While he carried spotting he rarely threw it.

He was very protective of his ewes and would charge people if you turned your back on him. He didn’t seem to pass this trait on to his ram lambs. He did pass on his high libido though.

Saddleback has made a big contribution to the breed through her productive son Mocum.


STS167C (Yeoman Ram SP Moorit 167C 447303) — A spotted moorit horned ram who was the son of STS188Z “Mori”. STS167C sired some outstanding offspring including STS243E “Blissa” (2,2,3,3,3) and STS242E “Hetta” (1,2,3,3,2) among others. He died in 1995 at Yeoman Farm.

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This mating resulted in twin ewes born April 18th 1995.

STS325E “Laura” (Yeoman Ewe Bl Spot 325E 466706) — A spotted silvering black polled ewe. Laura is an outstanding ewe who is a quiet easy going big deep-bodied ewe that is a prolific (1,2,2,2,2), excellent mother, easy lambing and has produced 8 registered offspring.

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STS326E “Wishbone” (Yeoman Ewe Bl Spot 326E 466707) — A spotted black, non- silvering with the same attributes as her sister. She has produced 7 registered offspring (1,2,3,3,1).

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Both of these ewes have lustrous silky fleeces and Dalmatian patterns when shorn. They both belong to Susan and Rex Mongold and most of their female offspring have been retained in the Tongue River flock.


STS177D (Yeoman Ram Moorit Spot 177D 458573) — A moorit spotted horned ram that was also sired by Iceland Ram Moorit “Mori” He died at yeoman Farm in 1997.

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This mating resulted in twins born May 1st 1996.

STS617F “Suzie Cute" (Yeoman Ewe B5SP 617F 478692) — A spotted black polled ewe who was a real personality and a ham. She always wanted to be first and was always doing something to make you laugh. She was very friendly and a great mother (2,3,3,3). She is now owned by Larry and Kathy Koch. She has produced 5 registered lambs.

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STS618F “Ray” (Yeoman ram B5SH 618F 478693) — A spotted black horned ram owned by Pricilla Meinholtz. She describes him as “a gorgeous black/white spotted ram with a personality of gold. He has strong, solid symmetrical horns, although they're not particularly large. He produces exceptional lambs with well-placed coloring, which have followed through to his future generations. He carries the moorit color. Is holding his "jet black" color. He was Priscilla’s first ram and was named after Stefania’s husband Ray. He isn't extremely tall, but rather compact and stocky structure. Most of his lambs inherit his build.

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Priscilla adds: “Ray's life here hasn't been without incident. I chose him as my first and only ram when I acquired my starter flock from Stefania in 1996, which consisted of 11 ewes and Ray. All my ewes were exposed to him that fall, with no "back up" ram. In spring, about 3 weeks prior to the expected due date of myfirst Icelandic lambs, I found Ray dragging his hind leg. An angora buck had tipped his head with Ray'shind leg caught in the goat's horn. (We only realized this later, when we actually SAW the buck trying to do it to another sheep). He wouldn't use the leg at all. I called the vet (who was relatively new to me, but had come highly recommended). His diagnosis was gloomy. I asked, "Is it broken"?and he said "No, it's WORSE than broken, it's similar to a football injury, and there's basically nothing that can be done for him. He will never breed again". I remember asking him if perhaps I could take him into the clinic for an x-ray, just to confirm that it wasn't simply a broken leg. No, he was sure.

Not wanting to believe there was nothing that could be done for poor "Ray", and also knowing that I wanted to continue getting lambs from this gorgeous creature, although not knowing for sure whatquality he was capable of producing, since his first lambs were not due to arrive for another couple of weeks, I set out to find someone who would help me. I hauled Ray into the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital. They immediately took x-rays (I was trying to avoid him BECOMING my ex-Ray!!) of Ray'sinjured leg, and quickly came with good news. It was a broken leg. Now the bad news, it would cost $600 for surgery to insert a pin in his leg, inorder to assure no movement during the healing process. By merely "casting" it, there would be too much chance for arthritis to develop, and the chances that he’d be able to breed again would be diminished drastically. I opted for the surgery. Ray's leg was "pinned" and the outcome looked successful.

The under-graduate vet-students all fell in LOVE with Ray during his 5-day stay at the hospital. He soaked up all the attention, and was quite a good patient the entire time!! Rarely did they see a sheep treated there, so he was a focus for much special attention, which he adored.

That was nearly 4 years ago. Ray has been breeding successfully since his surgery. He walks with a slight limp in his hind leg, but it doesn't seem to cause him much (if any) discomfort. He is still TOP-ram here onthe farm, and KNOWS it!! Seeing those very first-born lambs of his a few weeks post-surgery made us realize that we had DEFINITELY made the correct decision on going ahead with the leg-surgery!! Top-quality lambs. He has sired 34 registered lambs.


STS334E (Yeoman Ram B5SC 334E 478660) — A spotted black scurred ram whose has both STS20Y and STS11Z as Grand parents. STS20Y is one of the best sires of polled daughters in the USA. STS11Z is also a fabulous producer and has the gene for non-silvering. STS334E sired big robust growthy offspring and is now siring outstanding crossbreds for Ralph McWilliams our shearer.

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This mating resulted in twins born on April 15th 1997.

STS706G (Yeoman Ram B5SP 706G 490471) — Spotted black polled ram owned by Yeoman Farm. No progeny. He was kept by Stefania to be used for breeding but was tragically killed by flystrike before he was used as a sire.

STS707G “Babe” (Yeoman Ram B5SP 707G 490471) — Spotted black polled ram owned by Nancy Schul. He has sired 11 registered offspring.

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STS623F (Yeoman Ram B4H 623F 478685) — A black horned mouflan who was sired by Houdini (STS358E whose dam was the famous ewe “Galsa” STS37Z). STS623F’s dam was Iceland Ewe Bl/Wt 150Z “Blessa” ½ Leadersheep ewe imported from Iceland. STS623F has a very quiet and calm disposition, is big, well conformed and has horns that needed to be cut as they eventually grew too close to his head. He threw his size and disposition to his lambs. Betsy Covert now owns him.

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STS3H was castrated at birth as Stefania thought that there were enough Saddleback sons in North America and she had STS706 held back as a sire for herself. After the untimely death of STS706G, Stefania was wishing that she had Jewels brother as a backup but it was too late. He went in the freezer.

STS4H “Jewel” (Yeoman Ewe B4SH 4H 502691) — A black mouflan horned ewe. Jewel has a very sweet disposition like her sire and is being retained for breeding by Stefania at Yeoman Farm. She produced her first lamb in 2000.


STS620F (Yeoman Ram M5SH 620F 478695) — A spotted moorit ram with small close horns that needed to be cut who was sired by STS177D himself a Mori son. STS620F’s dam was STS19Z who is ½ sister to Saddleback. So this was line breeding to STS73X, Saddleback’s dam. STS620 was known for his fabulous fleece and body. He did however tend to sire some lambs with weak pasterns. His dam STS19Z was a small ewe that was prolific and a heavy milker. She always weaned big fat lambs. He is now owned by Jager Farm.

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This mating resulted in twin ewe lambs on April 20th, 1999.

STS139J “Cloaka” (Yeoman Ewe B5SP 139J 517868-P) — A spotted black polled ewe that was named for her black cloak spotting pattern. She has weak back pasterns but has not passed this trait on to her twin lambs. She is a real character, friendly and very personable. She milks heavily and her first lambs lived up to her dam’s quality. She has 2 registered offspring. She is owned by Tongue River Farm.

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STS140J “Sassy” (Yeoman Ewe M5SP 140J 517632-P) Spotted moorit polled ewe. She has produced twin ewe lambs at her first lambing. She is owned by Jager Farm.


STS17H — A son of STS620F and STS9D who is a spotted black ram that carries moorit.

This mating resulted in a single ram lamb.

STS309K (Yeoman ram B5SP) — A spotted black polled ram. Yeoman Farm is retaining him as a sire prospect.


BLW227J-AI (Jager Ram 01P 227J) a white polled ram that may carry spotting. His sire is Faldur (from semen from Iceland) and dam is STS104A.

Stefania awaits this years lambs with great interest.

Saddleback will be remembered as one of the greatest Ewes in the history of the breed in North America. Most breeders will find her in the pedigrees of their sheep. She is a legend in her own time and continues to make history at Yeoman Farm.