The roots of the Shetland Sheep go back over a thousand years, probably to sheep brought to the Shetland Islands by Viking settlers. They belong to the Northern European short-tailed group which also contains the Finnsheep, Norwegian Spaelsau, Icelandics, Romanovs and others. A few importations of Shetland sheep are documented in North America during the past two centuries. For example, Thomas Jefferson, owned a small flock of Shetland sheep at Monticello. None of the historic flocks, however, survived as purebred populations. Most Shetland sheep in North America descend from a 1980 importation of 32 sheep by the late G.D. Dailley of Ontario, Canada. The North American Shetland Sheep Registry began keeping a North American flockbook in 1991. The Shetland breed has prospered in recent years to the extent that it is no longer considered endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in Britain. Despite this success, there are concerns about the loss of genetic diversity within the breed. For example, white sheep now predominate on the British mainland and several of the color varieties have become rare. Qualities of the Breed: Shetland Sheep are a small, calm breed of sheep — ideal for a small flock! Shetlands are one of the smallest of the British sheep. Rams usually weigh 90 to 125 pounds and ewes about 75 to 100 pounds. Rams usually have beautiful spiral horns, whereas the ewes are typically polled. They are fine-boned and agile and their naturally short, fluke-shaped tails do not require docking. They are a calm, docile and easy-to-manage breed. Most respond well to attention and some even wag their tails when petted! Although Shetlands are small and relatively slow growing, they maintain natural hardiness, thriftiness, easy lambing, adaptability and longevity. Since obtaining our little flock we haven't had to
de-worm them. They are naturally resistant to parasites. Shetlands survived for centuries under harsh conditions and on a meager diet, although they do very well under less rigorous conditions. Having retained many of their primitive survival instincts, they are easier to care for than many of today’s commercial breeds.
Leicester Longwool Sheep
Rare & Heritage English Longwool Sheep are some of our beloved creatures here on the farm. After dreaming of sheep...forever...we began the journey to acquire, learn about & love these beautiful animals in hopes to not only enjoy them for ourselves, but to help preserve these breeds for future generations as well. Not only are these lovely animals worth saving, but they have the most uniquely lustrous & highly desirable fleeces that are most likely, quite unlike anything you've ever seen before. Proud to be members of the Livestock Conservancy and Certified Fibershed producers. We are working towards a local & sustainable textile economy as well as growing certified climate beneficial wool for positive ecological impact. Every wool product you choose makes you a partner in all of this...working together to bring a little more wholesome goodness to these special creatures, our families and the earth. Leicester Longwool Sheep have a very long and rich history. They date back to the 1700s, and were found in the Midland counties of England, originally developed in Leicestershire by Robert Bakewell (Agriculturist). It is now one of Britain's rarest breeds, categorized as "Endangered" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The breed is relatively hardy and able to cope with cold conditions. However in common with most longwools the breed is not best suited to prolonged wet periods. The breed can easily be bucket trained and will not jump fences. Usually few lambing problems are experienced but lambs can be slow to get going. These beautiful sheep should have wool-less white faces and legs and both sexes are polled. There is also a black strain of the breed. Here at TOF we strive to produce really white wool. We do however have a few black sheep in this breed. The Leicester Longwool is a hugely important breed in the history of livestock development. In the first half of the 18th century the longwool breeds of the midlands were large, slow growing with a poor carcass. Robert Bakewell took the example of the Leicester breed and by crossing it with the Lincoln and Ryeland breeds was able to create the new Leicester. Although the objective was breed improvement the new Leicester had several faults and never dominated the industry. In time the name of the breed was changed to the Leicester Longwool and the Breed Society was formed in 1893. The wool is popular with hand spinners and well suited to direct marketing of woolen products. Did you know? The breed played a large role in developing other breeds such as the Wensleydale, Border Leicester, Lleyn and Ile de France are some examples of breeds with Leicester ancestry. In 2019 we set out on a journey to Massachusetts, purchasing our first two Leicester Sheep. There are only about 38 breeders in the United States and we are one of them. If you want to learn more, or just curious, a great place to start would be by contacting Kelly Miller she’s one of the few who saved this beautiful breed as well as the Registrar of the Leicester Longwool Association.https://www.leicesterlongwool.org/
Why CVM's ? In 2021, We set out on a journey to Western PA, to obtain a small starter flock of 3 Registered CVM ewes. Then in 2022 I purchased a very handsome ram that carries spots along with two more ewes. They made their travel all the way from Illinois to Pennsylvania. I can't stress enough how much I love this fantastic breed!! If I had to do all over again this would be the only breed, I'd have. They are just that wonderful! Great mothers and simply easy keepers. Before I had CVM's I first had Gotlands however I later realized that Gotland wool is much like Leicester Longwool. I also wanted to focus more on Rare Breeds listed on the Livestock Conservancy. Gotlands are not rare worlwide however just rare in the US but that is changing in recent years. They produce a lovely, next to skin soft fleece that is also perfect for felting.
Check back here often as I do look forward to adding more information on this beautiful breed as time goes on............