Woody is the newest addition to the farm! He is a Wensleydale…
The mating of a Dishley Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe in 1838 produced the famous ram ‘Blue Cap’ who was the founding sire of the Wensleydale breed. He was a striking ram, with blue pigmentation on his head and ears that is now the hallmark of the breed, great size (203 kg as a two-shear) and wool of distinctive quality. The modern Wensleydale has inherited these qualities. It is a large sheep with long-stapled, lustrous wool that falls in long ringlets almost to ground level in unshorn sheep. The breed has a quality known as ‘central checking’ that prevents the formation of kemp in the fleece.
The Wensleydale is a very large longwool sheep, described by the British Meat and Livestock Commission as “probably the heaviest of all our indigenous breeds.” It is a visually striking sheep with considerable presence. It has a bold and alert carriage which is accentuated by its broad, level back and heavy muscling in the hindquarters. It has a distinctive deep blue head and ears, which should be clean except for a well developed forelock of wool. Both sexes are polled.
The Wensleydale breed was developed to provide rams for crossing onto hill ewes, mainly Swaledale, Blackface, Rough Fell, Cheviot & Dalesbred. The female crossbreds develop into prolific, heavy-milking, hardy breeding ewes while the wethers, under natural conditions and on marginal ground, provide quality carcasses at higher weight, with no excess fat.
Today the breed is established throughout the United Kingdom and extends into mainland Europe.
For more info please visit the North American Wensleydale Sheep Association….
Woody will be used on some of our Icelandic ewes. We feel the cross will be wonderful! The size (meatiness) and wool quality from the Wensleydale added to the lamb vigor, hardiness, wonderful maternal instinct and mothering abilities of our Icelandic ewes will produce some spectacular crosses! We will still be concentrating on producing wonderful pure-bred Icelandics, as they are my favorite but, I am hoping this will provide a bit more meatiness for our meat lambs. I am looking forward to next spring!
Images and information below are also from the North American Wensleydale Sheep Association….
Rams – 300 lbs.
Ewes – 250lbs.
Yearling ewe – 200%
Mature ewes – 250%
Twin lambs will average 13 pounds each at birth with a growth rate that enables ram lambs to reach 160 lbs. at 21 weeks.
Average lamb weight at 8 weeks:
Singles – 57 lbs.
Twins – 48 lbs.
Wensleydale wool is the finest and most valuable luster longwool in the world.
Micron count 33-35
Staple length 8-12 inches
Yearling Fleece Weight 13-20 pounds
Fleeces are entirely kemp free as a result of the unique characteristics of the wool-producing follicles. This special quality is genetically transmitted to cross-bred lambs, characterizing the Wensleydale ram as perhaps the leading wool improving sire in the world.
Wensleydale wool is used for its special effects and handle in hand knitting yarn, knitwear and cloth and sometimes in upholstery fabrics. Because of its similarity, it is regularly used to blend with mohair.