Black Leicester Longwool

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...

Schedule of Events

Search schedule by:

Event Type

Day

Don't forget - The deadline to submit teaching proposals for the 2023 Festival is July 15.The Fiber Arts Seminar Committee invites instructors from every heritage, culture, belief system, and lifestyle to submit a teaching proposal. If you are interested in offering a seminar, class, or lecture at the 2023 Festival, please use the Online Proposal Form at sheepandwool.wufoo.com/forms/request-for-proposals-2023-fiber-arts-seminars/.#MDsheepwoolfest #mdsheepandwool #mdsheepandwoolfestival #mdsw2023 #fiberartseminars ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Reminder - The deadline to submit teaching proposals for the 2023 Festival is July 15.The Fiber Arts Seminar Committee invites instructors from every heritage, culture, belief system, and lifestyle to submit a teaching proposal. If you are interested in offering a seminar, class, or lecture at the 2023 Festival, please use the Online Proposal Form at sheepandwool.wufoo.com/forms/request-for-proposals-2023-fiber-arts-seminars/.#MDsheepwoolfest #mdsheepandwool #mdsheepandwoolfestival #mdsw2023 #fiberartseminars ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
It's only been a little over a month since the 2022 festival, but we are already making plans for our 50th anniversary festival in 2023. If you are interested in applying for a vendor booth at the 2023 festival, we are now accepting new vendor applications online at sheepandwool.wufoo.com/forms/2023-application-for-booth-space-new-vendor/. The deadline for applications is October 1. Photo Credit @philgrout #MDsheepwoolfest #mdsheepandwool #mdsheepandwoolfestival #50th #mdsw2023 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpFtt0J2tmsmUmt3Jzr5t3uz6wg3H4DV_