Black Leicester Longwool

Black Leicester Longwool Sheep

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Breed Association Website: leicesterlongwool.org

The Leicester Longwool is one of the “luster longwool” breeds, so designated for the sheen and brilliance of their wool. The sheep appear to shine just after shearing, when the clean wool next to their skin catches the sunlight and makes them glisten for a few days before the dust and dirt of their environment catches up to them and the glow is hidden for another year.

The Leicester Longwool breed is also known as the English Leicester (pronounced lester). The breed was developed in England in the mid 1700s by innovative breeder Robert Bakewell, the first to use modern selection techniques to improve livestock breeds. Bakewell transformed a coarse, large boned, slow growing animal into one that grew rapidly for market and produced a higher quality fleece.

News of Bakewell’s ideas reached the colonies before the American Revolution and so intrigued George Washington that he made reference to them in several letters. Washington was particularly interested in Bakewell’s sheep, writing that he made the “choice of good rams from the English Leicester breed” for his own flock. In 1837, the agriculturist Youatt wrote that, “within little more than half a century the New Leicester had spread themselves to every part of the United Kingdom and to Europe and America.”

The Leicester Longwool was highly prized in America, especially for its use in crossbreeding to improve “native” stock. During the 1800s, however, the breed lost favor to the Merino and other fine wool breeds. After 1900, the Leicester Longwool fell into decline and was likely extinct in the United States during the 1930s or 1940s. A very small population remained in Canada. In 1990, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a historic site in Virginia, reestablished the breed in North America by importing sheep from Australia. Several conservation flocks have now been established, and the population of Leicester Longwool sheep in North America is increasing. This is important, given that the breed remains rare globally.

Leicester Longwools are medium to large sheep, weighing 180–250 pounds. The fleece is heavy, curly, soft handling, and lustrous with a spiral tipped staple up to eight inches. Fleeces weigh from eleven to fifteen pounds, occasionally up to twenty pounds. Leicesters are eager grazers, making good use of abundant pasture. When mixed flocks of Merinos and Leicesters are driven along road sides in Australia, all of the Merinos have their heads up, watching what is going on, while the Leicesters are busy with their heads down, chomping down the succulent roadside grasses. Leicesters are docile and easy to handle, but they do not care for herding dogs. Herding with dogs is likely to result in the whole flock proceeding to the barn backwards – facing down the dog!

The Leicester Longwool has been of great historic and genetic value, having a part in the founding or improving of many other breeds, including the Border Leicester and the Corriedale. While distinguished by its past, this breed’s future is far from secure, and it is a conservation priority.

In 2002, the first natural color Leicester Longwools were born in the USA at Hopping Acres. We imported semen from a well known natural color breeder in New Zealand, Mrs. Elspeth Wilkinson. Since the first born , other natural color semen has been imported from New Zealand and Australia.


This breed presented by

Hopping Acres Leicester Longwools
Kelly Miller
3458 Sugar Valley Rd
Bruceton Mills, WV 26525
(304) 379-2212

hoppingacres.com

2022 Catalog Cover Artist

Susan Due Pearcy has lived in the Agricultural Reserve in Barnesville, Maryland for 27 years and enjoys having sheep grazing next door and fibre artist friends nearby. She is continually inspired in her art and life by the natural beauty of her surroundings and works plein air in oil and pastel and creates her printmaking in Sugarloaf Studio behind her home...

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If you didn't brave the weather to come to last week's festival, but still want a festival t-shirt, you're in luck. Our online store at is being restocked with 2022 merchandise and should be ready by Monday, May 16, 2022 (they just need a little time to unpack the boxes that came back from the festival and see what's what). If memory serves, they will have two colors of short sleeve tees, a long sleeve tee, hats, aprons, fleece vests, sling bags and cinch sack/backpacks. Sorry, the large canvas tote bags are all gone.The online store is at www.sheepman.com/product-category/maryland-sheep-wool-festival-online/. You can also purchase these items in person at the Ceresville New Holland, Inc./Sheepman Supply Co. showroom in Frederick, Maryland. #mdsw2022 #festivalgear ... See MoreSee Less
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If you or anyone else receives an email claiming to be able to sell you a list of attendees of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, please ignore it as IT IS A SCAM. It has come to our attention that companies are emailing some of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival’s exhibitors and attendees, claiming to offer our attendee email list. This is a common occurrence with large conferences and trade shows in recent years.It is our policy to NEVER sell, rent, or share attendee contact information. No company is authorized to distribute or sell any email lists of Festival attendees. The Festival is not providing this list nor generating these messages. How did they get your email? Software programs can crawl websites in search of email addresses that are listed on them (identifiable by the @ sign).If you receive an email offering to sell you a list of Festival attendees, do not respond to it. By responding—even with a request to unsubscribe—you confirm that your email address is a valid one, which may increase the likelihood that you’ll be contacted again. ... See MoreSee Less
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This little lost lamb kid's mitten was turned in to the Lost & Found and would like to find it's mate. There is also a handmade shawlette someone might be missing, along with the usual random assortment of items -- reading glasses, etc. -- and, no surprise, a folding umbrella and a pair of rubber boots. Message me or email if any of these sound like they might belong to you, or if there is something else you would like me to check for. #mdsw2022 #lostandfound ... See MoreSee Less
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