Genetically cute lamb on display at Nonnewaug High

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Genetically cute lamb on display at Nonnewaug High



Nonnewaug High School agriscience teacher Katie Gorman gets set to go online with a webcam of lamb Cedric and his mother, Bonnie, pictured in background. Steve Bigham Republican-American

WOODBURY — The “lamb cam” is up and running inside the agriscience department at Nonnewaug High School, allowing viewers from around the world to see Cedric the lamb and his mother Bonnie, the ewe.

The Webcam went live Thursday evening, just hours after Cedric’s arrival. It can now be livestreamed on YouTube and Instagram.

Cedric and Bonnie are no ordinary lambs. They are part of the school’s genetic breed-up program to create a near-genetic match to the rare Valais black-nosed sheep, dubbed in the sheep breeding word as the world’s cutest.

The Valais black nose originated in the Valais region of Switzerland. It is illegal to export them out of the country because they have a value 40 times higher than that of other sheep and are highly sought after, said agriscience teacher Katie Gorman. It is legal to import male DNA and the school, now in its second generation of the project, is slowly moving toward its goal of a 95 % purebred.

“We expect it will take 7 or 8 generations,” said Director Ed Belinsky.

Cedric the lamb, born Thursday morning, is seen here with his mother, Bonnie, inside the animal lab at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury on Friday. Steve Bigham Republican-American

Cedric, while a welcome arrival, will not move the breeding program forward, as only females can do that, Gorman said.

Nonnewaug is one of the few places in the country involved in this type of effort and the only high school, said veterinary sciences teacher Jenn Jedd, who said students are fully involved in the genetics project and DNA testing.

Jedd said she came up with the idea for project after she researched how to get the sheep and learned they were not available in the United States.

“Breed-up programs like ours are the only way to have the breed in the states,” Belinsky said. “As far as I know we are the only school doing this.”

All the sheep born as part of the program are given names from the Harry Potter book series, and the first letter of each newborn corresponds with the generation it is part of. For example, Bonnie was born two years ago and represents the second generation in the program.

Gorman said the live steam was slated to broadcast the birth. However, Bonnie gave birth five days early, before the school was able to get the webcam up and running.

Belinsky said the live feed is all part of this year’s theme of community outreach after COVID-19 limited Woodbury FFA’s interaction with the public.