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The Bluefaced Leicester is of the English Longwool type and originated near Hexham in the county of Northumberland, England during the early 1900s. The breed was originally developed to use in the production of high-quality crossbred ewes. They originated from Border Leicester individuals selected for the blue face (white hairs on black skin) and finer fleeces. The average weight for mature rams is approximately 250 lbs (115 kg) with adult ewes weighing 175 lbs (80kg). The prolificacy of the breed is good with the lambing percentage from mature ewes being reported to range from 220 to 250 percent. The wool is classed as demi-lustre and fine. The average fleece weight is 2-4.4 lbs (1-2 kg) and the staple length is 8-15 cm. These wool qualities appear to be passed on to the crossbred offspring.
The Canadian Arcott was one of the three breeds developed at the Agriculture Canada research station near Ottawa. Canadian Arcotts were the result of a cross-breeding program that included Ile de France and Suffolk to produce a new breed with strong meat characteristics. The mature sheep is medium-sized, short and thick. The lambs are fast-growing, meaty animals that finish well for either the light or heavy lamb market. They produce an excellent carcass with a good meat-to-bone ratio. The ewes are easy lambers and require low to medium maintenance. They adapt well to either pasture or confinement management systems. The rams make excellent terminal sires to improve the meat characteristics of many other breeds.
The Canadian Arcott is one of three breeds developed at the Agriculture Canada research station near Ottawa. The Canadian Arcott is the result of a crossbreeding program including Île de France and Suffolk with the aim of producing a new breed with good beef characteristics. Adult sheep are medium in size, short and thick. Lambs are fast-growing, butcher-type animals for the light or heavy lamb market. They produce an excellent carcass with a good meat yield. Sheep lambs easily and require relatively little care. They adapt well to pasture or to intensively managed confinement systems. Males make excellent terminal rams to improve the meat characteristics of many other breeds.
The Charollais were developed in the same region of France as Charolais cattle. Beginning in 1977, the Charollais was further improved in the UK and was exported to Canada as embryos, in 1994. The primary purpose of the breed in Canada is as a terminal sire for prime slaughter lamb production. The lambs have an excellent carcass with a wide long loin and a high lean meat yield. Charollais rams are ideal for using on ewe lambs or smaller framed ewes. The smaller head and wedge-shaped body produce lambs that are easily delivered and vigorous at birth. The ewes work well in a pasture-based or confinement system, lamb easily and are good mothers. The fleece of the purebred is of medium quality.
Clun Forest sheep are a local breed of the upland hill country between England and Wales. The first flock was imported into Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1970s. They are easy keepers, hardy and able to fend for themselves under harsh conditions, while still producing good lambs. For these reasons, the breed has spread into many pasture-based systems across Canada and the US, where they thrive in the desert conditions of Utah, the humidity of British Columbia and the cold of Minnesota. Clun Forest sheep are a maternal breed. The ewes generally produce twins, are good mothers and good milkers. They are most often used in crossbreeding programs with Suffolk and Hampshire rams to produce market lambs. Clun Forest rams can be used on first-time ewes to downsize the lambs and reduce lambing problems.
The Clun Forest is a local breed from the hills of the highlands between England and Wales. The first herd was brought to Canada, Nova Scotia, in the 1970s. They are easy to maintain, hardy and able to survive unassisted in harsh conditions, still producing good lambs. For these reasons, the breed is prevalent in many grazing-based systems across Canada and the United States, where they thrive in the desert conditions of Utah, the humidity of British Columbia, and the cold of Minnesota. The Clun Forest is a maternal breed. Sheep generally produce twins, are good mothers, and good milkers. They are most often used in a cross with Suffolk or Hampshire rams to produce market lambs. The Clun Forest ram can be used for mating ewe lambs for the purpose of reducing lamb size and lambing problems.
One of the world’s most beautiful and rare sheep comes from the hills of the Cotswolds in England, less than 20 miles from the Welsh border. They are thought to be descended from a long wool introduced by the Romans in the first century A.D. This prototype sheep gave birth to the Cotswold, Lincoln and Leicester. The Cotswold was well established by the 15th Century and the wealth obtained from these “gentle giants” paid for many of the great Cathedrals and churches in England, most notable Gloucester Cathedral. The word Cotswold stems from the wolds (hills) and cotes (enclosures) which housed the sheep in bad weather, hence the wolds of the sheep cotes. Cotswolds played a great part in early American farming history even though today they are rare.
They were first introduced by Christopher Dunn into New York, near Albany in 1832. By 1879 this was the most popular breed in America. By 1914 over 760,000 were recorded and it was still a very popular breed in the West until Merinos were introduced from Australia. Merinos had the finest fleece and quick maturing lambs. By the 1980’s there were fewer than 600 Cotswolds in all of Britain and in the US; in 1993 there were less than 400 lambs registered. Thanks to the American Livestock Breeders Conservancy and other groups, Cotswolds have been removed from the “rare breed list” and are enjoying popularity among spinners. The Cotswold can yield 15 pounds of wool per shearing with the fiber up to 12″ long. It is highly lustrous fleece with a micron count in the 40s and is sometimes called poorman’s mohair. Cotswolds by the campfire Cotswolds by the campfire The Cotswold is a large, polled breed, with ewes weighing up to 200 pounds and rams 300 pounds. The ewes are excellent mothers, with few birthing problems and quick to accept lambs. They are a very friendly sheep and there is definitely a queenly quality about the ewes. The meat has a very mild flavor and aroma. It has been proven that long wool sheep have a less muttony flavor than fine wooled breeds. Cotswolds are easy to raise and do well on coarser feeds and are excellent foragers and can thrive in harsh climates, even with a lot of rainfall. Black Cotswold lamb Black Cotswold lamb The earliest Cotswolds were white but black Cotswolds were recorded in Kentucky in 1858. They are even more rare than the whites, and it is not known if the incidence of color is due to recessive genes or some fence jumper from long ago! They should have the same characteristics as the whites. There is a revived interest in Cotswolds due to the desire of sheep growers to improve wool quality and produce lean, heavyweight lambs on less feed.
The Dorper is a white sheep with a blackhead or head and neck, with complete dark pigmentation of exposed skin. The covering is a short loose mixture of hair and wool with a natural clean kemp underline. The Dorper was developed as a meat sheep in South Africa in the mid-1900s by crossing a Dorset (horn) ram with a Blackhead Persian ewe. In July 1950 a breeder's society was founded.
The White Dorper is an all-white sheep that shares its many attributes with the Dorper, differing only in colour. The White Dorper was developed as a meat sheep in South Africa in the mid-1900s by crossing a Dorset (horn) / Blackhead Persian with a Dorset (horn) / Van Rooy. Later infusion of the Ronderib Afrikaaner created the White Dorper as we know it today. The sheep were originally called Dorsian and a breed association was formed. In 1964 it was decided to join with the Dorper society but to maintain the two as separate breeds. The White Dorper as a terminal sire on white-faced sheep will render an "uninterrupted white" cross lamb with outstanding meat qualities.
The Dorper and White Dorper have retained the positive characteristics of their founding breeds; the hardiness of the desert sheep and the prolific, good mothering ability of the Dorset. Both breeds contribute their ability to breed out of season. They are non-selective grazers and bred to adapt and flourish under severe conditions; which is proven by their success in the wide variety of climates in which they thrive today. They are also known for their increased natural resistance to parasites.
The Dorper is a white sheep with a blackhead or black head and neck, with dark pigmentation on the exposed skin. Fleece is a short, loose mixture of hair and wool. The Dorper is a meat sheep that was developed in South Africa in the mid-1900s by crossing a Dorset horned ram with a Blackhead Persian sheep. In July 1950 a society of breeders was founded.
The White Dorper is an all-white sheep that shares many of its attributes with the Dorper, different only in colour. The White Dorper, too, was developed as meat mutton in South Africa in the mid-1900s, this time crossing a Horned Dorset / Blackhead Persian with a Horned Dorset / Van Rooy. The subsequent addition of the Ronderib Afrikaaner resulted in the Dorper Blanc as we know it today. The sheep were originally called Dorsian and a separate breed association had been formed. It was only later, in 1964, that it was agreed to join the Dorper company, but keeping the two races separate. The White Dorper as a terminal ram, crossed with white-faced sheep will always give white lambs remarkable meat qualities.
The Dorper and the White Dorper have retained the positive characteristics of their original breeds; the vigour of the desert sheep as well as the maternal aptitudes and the good prolificacy of the Dorset. Both breeds pass on their ability to mate out of season. They are not selective on the pasture and have been bred to adapt and evolve under severe conditions. They are also known for their good natural resistance against parasites.
Horned Dorsets originated in England and Wales and have been an identifiable breed since the 16th century. Imported into Canada during the 19th century they were, for many years, one of the cornerstones of the sheep industry. The Canadian Horned Dorset type owes more to the older style British animal. It is a lower set animal and smaller than its American or Australian counterpart. After the introduction of the Polled Dorset in the 1950's, many breeders switched over and the Horned Dorset declined in numbers.
The Polled Dorset originated from a mutation of the Horned Dorset which occurred at North Carolina State University in the early 1950s. They were accepted into the US breed registry in 1956 and since that time have spread into Canada and become a major contributor to the commercial lamb industry. Dorset ewes are relatively prolific, good mothers and breed out of season. The breed adapts well to confinement and is readily used in accelerated crossbreeding programs. As they respond well to confinement, they do well under feedlot conditions and on small holdings with intensive management.
General Appearance - Medium-sized sheep; good body length & muscle conformation. The Head is well covered with wool on the poll & under jaws. Open, smooth face & muzzle is moderately broad, medium-length; pink nose.
The Hampshire is one of the Down breeds that originated in Hampshire County, England. During the 18th century, Southdown rams were crossed with local horned sheep. Fixed as a breed in 1889, it was exported to Canada at the turn of the century and has remained one of the consistently popular breeds in the industry. They are large, stocky sheep with excellent meat characteristics and high-yielding carcasses. The lambs are fast-growing and serve both the light and heavy lamb markets. They are very durable sheep. The ewes exhibit medium prolificacy, are long-lived and easy keepers. They will adapt to either pasture or confinement management. Rams used as terminal sires pass on the Hampshire loin and leg. The Hampshire breed is very docile and easy to manage.
Hampshires do not need a season for breeding, though they generally do so in December or January; a healthy ewe has no difficulty in lambing.
The Hampshire is a large, open-faced and active sheep with a mild disposition. Mature rams should weigh 275 pounds, or more and mature ewes should weigh 200 pounds or more in breeding condition. The ears should be moderate in length, thick, covered with coarse dark brown or black hair and free from wool. The face should be of good length, dark in colour and a small amount of wool on the face is acceptable
Mature ewes will average a six to ten pound (2.7-4.5 kg) fleece with a micron measurement of 25.0 to 33.0 and a spinning count of 46-58. The staple length of the fleece will be 2 to 3.5 inches (5-9 cm) with a yield of 50 to 62 percent. The wool of Hampshire fleeces is strong, of medium fineness and length, and desirable for manufacturing purposes except for the occurrence of black fibres in a small percentage of fleeces.
This breed was developed in the 1830s and was first registered in 1892. Since 1933 they have been performance tested and have had their own test station since 1972. It is the dominant breed in France and was first imported to Canada in 1995. The Ile de France has been selected for two primary purposes: as a terminal sire to produce vigorous, hardy, and fast-growing lambs with superior carcass traits; and as an improver for crossbreeding with maternal breeds in a commercial flock. In this capacity, they add hardiness, longevity, feed conversion and out-of-season breeding ability to a ewe flock. They have an excellent flocking instinct and are very successful when raised on pasture. Their high wool quality is an asset when crossed with range breeds.
This breed was developed during the 1830s and was first registered in 1892. Since 1933 they have been evaluated on their growth performance and have had their own testing station since 1972. It is the dominant breed in France and she was imported to Canada in 1995. Île de France was chosen for two purposes: as a terminal ram to produce vigorous, hardy and high-growing lambs with superior carcass characteristics and as an improver ram for crossbreeding. with maternal breeds in a commercial herd. Added to these qualities are vigour, longevity, good feed conversion and the ability to reproduce in the off-season. They have excellent herd instincts and are very successful when raised on pasture.
The Katahdin breed was developed in the USA by Michael Piel, resulting from a crossbreeding program that included hair sheep from the Caribbean and various British breeds. His goal was to combine the shedding coat, prolificacy and the hardiness of the Virgin Island sheep, with the meat, conformation and rate of growth of the wooled breeds. Later, Wiltshire Horned Sheep, another shedding breed from England was incorporated into the flock in order to add size and improve carcass quality even further.
The mature Katahdin is a medium-sized, heavy muscled, low maintenance breed of sheep having excellent adaptability to climatic variations and management conditions. The winter coat of the Katahdin provides a good thick cover for northern winters but shedding in the spring eliminates the need to shear. Naturally prolific, Katahdin ewes exhibit strong maternal instincts, lambing unassisted with sufficient milk for multiple births. The lambs are noted for their vigorous arrival and survivability. They are early maturing, long seasonal breeders, often used in crossbreeding programs or as a terminal sire. The meat of the Katahdin is lean with a mild flavour.
The North Country Cheviot is a breed that has been widely used in the north of England and Scotland for several centuries. They are independent sheep, strong-willed, vigorous and very hardy in harsh climates and rough pasture. They are best suited to pasture-based systems where the management is not intensive.
The ewes exhibit superior mothering instincts and deliver lambs easily. The lambs are vigorous at birth with excellent survivability. Although they only demonstrate an average rate of gain, the carcass quality is very good with an above-average yield percentage. North Country rams are often used in crossbreeding programs to pass on the maternal strengths of the breed as well as to produce desirable carcasses.
The Babydoll is a small heritage breed of now rare sheep. It was used for meat and wool and milk and was a hearty sheep breed and easy care. It is the original "Southdown" that was brought to North America from England. After WWI the breed was crossed to increase its size and selected for larger size till we have the Southdown of today. In the 1990s a small flock of the original breed was found and others were rounded up from various places and a private registry was started by Robert Mock. It was given the name Old English Babydoll Southdown to distinguish them from the current larger variety of Southdowns. They are wonderful little sheep with fine wool like cashmere. Since they are a miniature breed and friendly easy-care sheep they are also a favourite for petting zoos and small acreages.
The Rideau Arcott is a purebred sheep that was created entirely in Canada. It was developed over a period of 10-15 years by Agriculture Canada at the research station near Ottawa. The original genetics came from the Finnish Landrace, Suffolk and East Friesian breeds. After many generations of selection, the new breed was released to Canadian producers in the late 1980s. The purpose of the Rideau Arcott development program was to produce a maternal breed that would offer high fertility, good milking and mothering characteristics, excellent body conformation and a good growth rate. The Rideau's are highly prolific ewes, reaching sexual maturity at 7-8 months of age and excel in crossbreeding programs with terminal sire breeds which emphasize meat production. Due to a large number of multiple births, the Rideau does require additional attention to nutrition and lambing time management. The Arcott Rideau is a purebred sheep that was created entirely in Canada. It was developed over a 10 to 15 year period at Agriculture Canada's research station near Ottawa. The original genetics came mainly from the Finnish, Suffolk and East Friesian breeds. After several generations of selection, the new breed was made available to Canadian producers in the late 1980s. The goal of the Arcott Rideau development program was to produce a maternal breed that would offer high fertility, good dairy and maternal characteristics, excellent conformation and a good growth rate. The Rideau is a very prolific sheep. They reach sexual maturity around the age of 7 to 8 months. These ewes give excellent results when crossed with a ram of terminal breed in order to promote meat production. Due to a large number of multiple births, the Curtain requires a lot of extra attention for feeding and during lambing season.
A native of the Volga River Valley northwest of Moscow, the Romanov is a fine-boned medium-sized sheep known for its remarkable prolificacy. The breed record is nine live healthy lambs from a single ewe. First exported to France in the 1970s, the breed came to Canada in 1980 as part of a research program in Lennoxville, Quebec. The breed was released into the Canadian industry in 1986.
The Romanov is extremely hardy and gains well to 30kg, producing a very lean carcass. Because of its fertility and hardiness, Romanov genetics are used in replacement ewe lamb production in many intensive commercial operations. Romanovs cross very well with most breeds to produce a prolific hardy ewe with excellent maternal characteristics. Romanov cross lambs exhibit excellent hybrid vigour.
The Romney is a British longwool sheep that evolved in the low wet Romney Marsh district in southeast England during the 13th century. Geographically isolated from the rest of the country, the Romney developed on its own and adapted well to its damp and often harsh environment. It was exported to New Zealand in 1853 where it flourished and became the dominant breed in that country. Because of its natural resistance to footrot and internal parasites, the Romney has become popular in the wet coastal regions of British Columbia, Canada.
The lambs are large and lean and convert feed efficiently. They are docile and easily managed but do not compete well when mixed with other breeds and commercial sheep. Romney wool is in demand with hand spinners who will pay a premium for good fleeces.
The Romney is a long-wool British sheep that was developed in the low, damp area of the Romney Marshes in south-eastern England during the 13th century. Geographically isolated from the rest of the country, the Romney developed on its own and adapted well to its humid and often harsh environment exported to New Zealand in 1853 where it flourished and became the dominant breed there. In Canada, because of its natural resistance to footrot and internal pests, Romney has become popular in the humid coastal areas of British Columbia.
Lambs are tall and lean and have good feed conversion. They are docile and easily managed, but do not compete well when mixed with other breeds or with commercial sheep. Romney wool is in demand with artisan spinners who will pay a premium for good fleeces.
The Shropshire is a Down breed developed by crossing horned sheep with Cotswold, Leicester and Southdown. They were imported to Canada in the 1860s and for nearly a century were one of the country's most popular breeds. The breed declined drastically after the 1950s and they are currently on the rare breeds list. Docile, with a sound constitution, they are extremely hardy, enabling efficient flock management involving minimal time and effort. Rams are renowned terminal sires, robust with good conformation, hardy and long-lived. Ewes make excellent mothers; have abundant milk, and reproductive longevity. The lambs produce an excellent carcass at lighter weights. The fleece is heavier and of better quality than the other Down breeds.
The Southdown were developed in Sussex, England during the late 1700 and early 1800s'. Documented importations were made into Pennsylvania from 1824 to 1829 from the English Flock of John Ellman. Later importations from the Jonas Webb flock were made into Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois. These two men are considered by many to be the standardizer and main improver of the breed. As expected, many of the early registered sheep were imported from England. The Southdown is best suited for farm flock production. It is a medium to small-sized breed with a gray to mouse-brown face and lower legs and is polled (hornless). Southdown is an early maturing breed with good lambing ability and average milk production. They excel in a cross-breeding program in their ability to produce meaty lamb carcasses at light weights and hot-house lambs. The Southdown is adaptable to varied and wet climates. Mature weights for Southdown rams range in weight from 190 to 230 pounds (86-104 kg), ewes are slightly smaller and weigh from 130 to 180 pounds (59-81 kg). Fleece weights from mature ewe are between five and eight pounds (2.25-3.6 kg) with a yield of 40 to 55 percent. The fleeces are considered medium wool type with a fiber diameter of 23.5 to 29.0 microns and a numerical count of 54 to 60. The staple length of Southdown fleece ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4-6 cm).
The Suffolk was developed in the early 1800s in the southeastern area of England by crossing the Southdown and the Norfolk Horned sheep. The breed came to Canada in 1888 and interest in the breed grew rapidly after 1920. More than eighty years later it is still one of the dominant breeds in the Canadian industry. Because Suffolk lambs exceed all other breeds in the rate of gain and respond well to confinement, they offer excellent economic returns and continue to dominate the heavy lamb market in Canada. The rams are widely used as terminal sires in commercial ewe flocks due to their ability to produce lambs with excellent growth and carcass traits. The Suffolk is, however, a heavy feeder and maintaining a moderate size sheep under more controlled management systems has been advantageous in exploiting their meat traits in an economically efficient manner.
The Texel is a meat sheep that produces a lean, well-muscled and high-yielding carcass. Developed on the island of Texel off the coast of Holland in the early 1800s, the breed was imported into Canada in the 1980s. Since that time, the breed has grown to make a significant contribution to the country's prime lamb trade. This has mainly been done through the use of Texel rams as terminal sires in commercial crossbreeding programs.Although the ewes have only average prolificacy, they are very docile and easily managed. They adapt well to either pasture-based or feedlot style management and show excellent feed conversion in all systems.