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 be spun for texture or for smoothness, felts well, and is easily dyed. Although a longwool breed, some of the finer wool can even be used in everyday garments like sweaters and socks.
Border Leicesters are easy to manage due to their maternal nature, easy keeping, and calm temperament. They are prolific, heavy milkers, and make excellent mothers. When kept on pasture, they are good foragers and can get by with less feed. These traits, along with how easy they are to handle, make them extremely desirable animals for any shepherd.