Wensleydale sheep are a rare breed of polled sheep originating from the United Kingdom. Wensleydales are a large and generally very friendly sheep. Most of our sheep love attention and come to us to be petted. If you love being friends with your sheep, this is a great breed!
Wensleydales can produce 13-20 lbs per year of luxury fleece with an average annual staple length of 8-12". The fiber grows in tightly curled locks, and has a wonderful, glowing luster. Wensleydale sheep also carry a quality known as "central checking" which prevents the formation of kemp in the fleece which makes processing of the fleece very nice! The initial reaction of a first-timer to Wensleydale fleece is a gasp of admiration at the beauty of the wool.
Spinning Wensleydale fleece is a joy; its ease of spinning makes the novice spinner feel quite accomplished! Wensleydale wool also felts easily, making it a beautiful choice for fashion accessories that glow.
Wensleydale fleece is widely acknowledged as the finest of the long wools. If you are looking for a longwool sheep but dislike compromising on softness and handle, Wensleydale is the sheep for you!
The Wensleydale breed was virtually lost at one time. The reason is generally attributed to the affects of World Wars 1 and 2 on England, compounded by a steep decline in the commercial wool industry. In re-establishing the breed in the United States, the North American Wensleydale Sheep Association, established a "breeding up" program. This allows the breeding of a purebred Wensleydale ram to a Cotswald, Lincoln, or Leicester Longwool ewe. The resulting ewe lambs are registered as 50% Wensleydale. Ram offspring cannot be registered with a percentage of Wensleydale blood less than 75%. The process repeats until lambs reach a percentage of 95% at which point they are registered as "purebred" Wensleydale. 100% Wensleydale rams are only available via shipped semen from the UK.
Further, rams must test R/R at Codon 171 in order to qualify for registration. Codon 171 is the location of the gene that imparts scrapie resistance. Sheep with the alleles R/R are resistant to developing scrapie, a sheep version of "Mad Cow Disease". A sheep that is Q/Q is susceptible to the disease.
For more information on Wensleydale sheep, please visit:
The North American Wensleydale Sheep Association