Table of Contents
The Wensleydales sheep breed is a large, if not the heaviest and largest, sheep breed. It is a long wool sheep with a long shaggy sheep coat.
They are very hardy and sturdy with the beautiful fleeces kemp free. They are, however, a slow maturing breed that are carefully selected for their fine curly fleece and outstanding meat qualities.
WENSLEYDALE SHEEP QUICK PROFILE OVERVIEW
|The Wensleydale sheep breed is one of the heaviest and largest of all sheep breeds|
|Country of Origin:||United Kingdom|
|Main Purpose:||Meat and wool|
|Can be used for||Breed, **LSC, Meat, Wool|
|Ideal Climate:||Heat, Cold, Most climates|
Not listed by the *ALC
Status/Rarity: At Risk as listed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust
|Health Issues?||No known health issues|
|Good Starter Sheep?||Novice to intermediate level sheep farmer/keeper|
|Sheep Associations:||North America Wensleydale Sheep Association and the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders’ Association|
|Sheep Clubs:||Please refer to the members/breeders directories at the North America Wensleydale Sheep Association and the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders’ Association|
| Note: *ALC stands for American Livestock Conservancy
** LSC stands for Landscape Management – the animal is used for controlling various vegetation growth
|The Wensleydale sheep breed is a large sheep with a heavy body, long clean legs that their long hair hangs over. They have a clean face with a lock of hair/fringe on the forehead that can grow into the eyes. Their faces are a blue-grey color.|
|Color(s):||White with a blue-grey face You can get Black Wensleydale sheep|
EWE BREEDING & MILKING INFORMATION
|The ewes breed once a year and mostly produce enough milk to wean their lambs. The ewes are highly prolific and with a very high lambing percentage.|
|Breeding Period/cycle:||Usually lasts 24 to 36 hours|
|Estrous cycle:||Ave. 17 days/13 to 19 days|
|Gestation Period:||Usually, around 150 to 155 days but most gestation is 152 days|
|No. Lambs/Litter:||1 or 2 (twins)|
|Lactation Period:||Usually, around 150 to 240 day but most are milked for 180 days|
|Milking From:||4 to 6 weeks after lambing|
|Milk Ideal for:||Lambs|
|You may Also Like:||10 Best Sheep Breeds for Milk|
SHEEP MEAT PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|The Wensleydale sheep breed is highly regarded for its top-quality meat production. Lambs grow fast reaching a weight of up to 25 kgs at 8 weeks or 72 kgs by 21 weeks. Their meat has good meat to bone ratio with nice lean cuts.|
|Meat Production:||Yes, Quality: Premium|
|You may Also Like:||11 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat Production|
SHEEP WOOL PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|The Wensleydale sheep breed is a long wool sheep breed with a very long coat that if not sheered can reach the ground. The wool is of the finest quality and is the most valuable luster long wool in the world. Their fleeces have absolutely no kemp in them giving them a unique wool-producing follicles characteristics.|
|Wool Production?||Yes, Excellent quality and highly valuable|
|Wool is used to Produce:||Knitwear, cloth, special effects and handle in hand knitting yarn and sometimes upholstry.|
|You may Also Like:||18 Best Wool Producing Sheep Breeds|
GOOD TO KNOW
|A few more interesting facts to know about the breed|
|Child-Friendly?||No livestock should be left unattended around unsupervised children|
|Landscape Management?||They love to graze and forage through the fields|
|Where to buy them?||Please refer to the members/breeders directories at the North America Wensleydale Sheep Association and the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders’ Association|
|General Information:||The Wensleydale wool is said to be the most valuable and finest long wool in the world.
It takes the sheep around 15 months to grow its complete long fleece.
Their special kemp freed fleece characteristics is a special quality that is transmitted to cross-bred lambs making Wensleydale ram one of the best wool improving sires in the world.
The Wensleydale sheep as we know them today is from a large ram named “Bluecap”. “Bluecap” was the result of a crossing of a Dishley Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe in 1838.
Bluecap was a very striking ram with blue pigmentation on his face and ears. He was also a very large ram with weighing around 203 kgs and a very distinctive wool quality.
The modern-day Wensleydale sheep have inherited these qualities being large with as striking blue face and long lustrous wool.
The Wensleydale sheep were almost extinct in the 1970’s but were saved by various associations and heritage trusts that took and avid interest in reviving the breed.
The Wensleydale sheep of North America first arrived in the United States in the late 1990’s. They were brought into the country on a breed-up program.
- United States Lamb Resource Center
- American Sheep Industry Association
- American Sheep Industry Association List of Breed Associations & Standards
- American Milk Sheep Association
- Dairy Sheep Association of North America
- American Wool Council
- Fur Commission USA
- North American Meat Institute
- American Lamb Board
- National Lamb Feeders Association
- American Livestock Conservancy
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society
- United States Department of Agriculture