Wool Breed

Merino

Posted: April 16, 2021

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: Spain
Breed Association Website: countrylovin.com/ADMRA

The Merino sheep is a very important and popular breed of domestic sheep. It was originated in Spain and it is highly prized for it’s wool.

The modern Merino sheep were domesticated in Australia and New Zealand. Sheep were introduced by the Phoenicians from Asia Minor into North Africa.

And the foundation stocks of the Merino might have been introduced by the Marinids, a tribe of Berbers in Spain as late as the twelve century.

Although there were reports of the breed in the Iberian peninsula before the arrival of the Marinids; perhaps these came from the Merinos or tax collectors of the Kingdom of León, who charged the tenth in wool, beef jerky and cheese.

The Spanish breeders introduced English sheep breeds, which they used and bred with the local sheep breeds for developing the Merino sheep in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

This influence was openly documented by the Spanish writers at the time. Most of the flocks of these animals were owned by nobility or the church. And the flock grazed the southern plains of Spain in winter and the northern highlands in summer. The …

Bluefaced Leicester

Posted: April 16, 2021

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Breed Association Website: bflsheep.com

The Bluefaced Leicester is one of the three Leicester breeds of sheep [English Leicester Longwool, Border Leicester, and Bluefaced Leicester].

The Old English Leicester, Teeswater, Dishley Leicester (or Bakewell’s “Improved Leicester”), Border Leicester, and Wensleydale all contributed to the eventual development of the Bluefaced Leicester. Therefore, the Bluefaced Leicester is classified as a longwool breed.

Though its fleece is typically at the finer end of the longwool range, it exhibits characteristics unique to longwools, most notably staple length and structure.

On both white and natural colored Bluefaced Leicesters, the wool should be tightly purled, fine, dense, semi-lustrous, and when parted, it should open cleanly to the skin. There should be an even, consistent fleece coverage on the body, and the fleece should be free of hair and kemp. There should be no tendency for the main body of fleece to “peel” (the fleece breaking and sloughing off).

The Bluefaced Leicester is classified as a longwool breed with a staple length of 3-6 inches, a fleece weight of 2½-4½ lbs., and a fiber diameter of 56s–60s count, or 24-28 microns. It creates high-quality semi-luster yarns with soft hand, …

Lincoln

Posted: April 15, 2021

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: England
Breed Association Website: lincolnsheepbreeders.com

History of the Breed

Long-wool sheep appear to have ancestry from white-fleeced sheep imported to England from the European continent during the Roman occupation. Evidence of this body-type of sheep with similar fleece exists as figurines from the continent dating to the second century. The next evidence of long-wool sheep comes from Lincolnshire, appearing as a detailed illustration in the ‘Luttrell Psalter’ written between 1320 and 1340. In approximately 1460, a brass memorial with a curly-fleeced sheep was placed on the Northleach Church, Gloustershire.

The “old” Lincoln was first identified and depicted in the 1700’s. Robert Bakewell (1725-95), a famous livestock breeder, used the “old” Lincoln with other native stock while creating his “new” Leicester sheep by using inbreeding. Later, Lincolnshire sheepmen used “new” Leicester rams on “old” coarse-wool Lincoln ewes to begin development of the “improved” Lincoln using selective crossbreeding.

Many of the ‘longwool’ breeds likely have a similar developmental history involving Lincoln and Leicester foundations. The distinctly hardy “improved” Lincoln evolved during the 1800’s toward the dual-purpose breed we have today. The “improved” Lincoln combined more quality meat with a higher quality of wool than …

Corriedale

Posted: April 11, 2021

Breed Type: Wool
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Breed Association Website: countrylovin.com/ACA/index.htm

The Corriedale breed originated in New Zealand from Lincoln and Leicester x Merino crosses and was imported into the United States in 1914. Corriedales are medium-sized, white-faced with wool on the legs, and generally located in the farm-flock states. They are moderately prolific and yield heavy, medium-wool fleeces with good, staple length.


This breed presented by

American Sheep Industry Association
sheepusa.org

Border Leicester

Posted: April 11, 2021

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: England
Breed Association Website: ablasheep.org

The Border Leicester breed was developed by the Cully brothers in Northumberland, England in 1767 from the crossing of Leicester rams with Teeswater ewes. Some believe that Cheviot blood was also introduced prior to the firm establishment of the breed in 1850. While the Leicester breed was first introduced by George Washington, there are no reports of Border Leicesters being imported into the U.S. The breed was first recognized in the States in 1920 as the result of a census. Since their establishment, Border Leicesters have been used in the improvement and development of other longwool breeds.

These medium-sized sheep are easily recognizable by their characteristic heads which are free of wool with long, erect ears and an arched Roman nose. Their bare legs and head make it easy to shear them for their long, lustrous wool. Traditional Border Leicester fleeces are between 38 and 30 microns and have “pencil” locks with tips ending in small curls. Over the course of a year, these animals grow 8-12 pounds of wool which will yield 70% after scouring. The fleece of a Border Leicester is extremely versatile – it can …

Natural Colored

Posted: April 11, 2021

Breed Type: Wool Breed
Country of Origin: Many
Breed Association Website: ncwga.org/

Natural colored (non-white) fleece colors appear in many breeds of sheep, although over millennia, in many breeds, sheep with colored wool have been selected against, as the goal was to produce uniform white fleeces for commercial use. More than 40 years ago, in response to the sustained interest of shepherds and fiber enthusiasts in the broad range of blacks, browns, silvers and variegated fleece genetics that can be coaxed into expression in fine, medium, long, and coarse fleeced sheep breeds (and recognizing the minor breeds that have always valued those colored genetics), the Natural Colored Wool Growers Association was formed to promote increased quality and utility of this natural rainbow of fiber. Today, natural colored sheep have a greater role than ever in the specialty fiber market, and breeders continue to advance the quality and variety of this unique sustainable resource.


This breed presented by

Black Sheep Farm
Martha Polkey
14605 Chapel Lane
Leesburg, VA 20176
(703) 727-5604

blacksheepfarmva.com

Black Leicester Longwool

Posted: April 10, 2021

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 …

Wensleydale

Posted: April 10, 2021

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

The Wensleydale breed from the United Kingdom has recently been established in the United States, with its development to date based on imported semen. It is a very large, prolific longwool sheep which has been used in Britain as a ewe-sire breed, mated to hill-breed ewes to produce prolific crossbred females.


This breed presented by

Crimson Shamrock
David Moran
893 Eglon Road
Eglon, WV 26716
(304) 288-9533

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