The first North American Wensleydale sheep were born in the late 1990's as a result artificial insemination using imported UK Wensleydale semen. Because the US government does not allow the importation of live sheep from the UK, breeders were forced to create a program to 'breed up' through many generations of infusing 100% Wensleydale genetics imported from the UK. Several dedicated and passionate breeders who wanted to see Wensleydale breed established here in the US, forged the way and laid down the foundation of our Association and Breed. At some future point we hope to put together a history of the early period and recognize breeders and shepherds who had a hand in helping to establish the seeds from which we are growing a large and prosperous population.
The North American Wensleydale sheep is well on it's way to fulfilling it's mission to re-create the lovely UK Wensleydale breed, here in the US. Working over many generations to infuse our foundation ewes with as much genetics from the original breed, we have some breeders who have produced outstanding animals that reliably reproduce the quality inherent in this longwool. The breed is large bodied, polled and produces an outstanding longwool fiber. The unique curled locks with a superior handle and unbelievable shine is coveted by fiber artists all over the world. This is a dual purpose breed that produces a lean carcass and mild flavor. Curious and majestic this sheep will grab your attention and inspire you to add them to your flock. Look for the characteristic blue skin on the nose and face, with a cascade of curls falling down from it's forelock, wideset eyes and alert blue ears
Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders Association (UK) Photo courtesy of Mark Elliot.
The following is from the WLSBA in the UK, where this breed began.
"The Wensleydale Longwool breed of sheep originated in North Yorkshire early in the 19th Century from a cross between a long since extinct local longwool breed from the region of the River Tees and an outstanding Dishley Leicester ram named ‘Bluecap’. The breed was developed to produce hardy rams for crossing onto hill ewes, together with high quality and valuable lustre fleeces. The breed is probably unique in that its Association is able to not only identify a foundation sire, but also trace that ram’s parentage, year and place of birth and breeder. ‘Bluecap’ was born in 1839 in the hamlet of East Appleton, five miles NNW of Bedale in North Yorkshire. His qualities, which determined the breed type without any further infusion of Leicester blood, were his dark skin, superb quality of wool and size – 203 kgs (448 lbs) as a two shear. The breed type was not named until 1876, when a name was required for classes at the Yorkshire Show."
CONTACT US AT Info@WENSLEYDALESHEEP.ORG or contact any Board Member directly.
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