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Choosing breeds of sheep is a difficult decision. There are so many! Each breed has its own unique qualities. Here at Apache Hill we decided to focus on 2 breeds that are "heritage" or involved in conservation efforts. With that in mind, we chose the Navajo-Churro and Wensleydale breeds. In doing so, we are able to be a part of something larger than ourselves, as well as offer unique products. Choosing these 2 very diverse breeds also gives us the ability to offer wool products that meet a wide range of fiber needs.

You may use these links to jump to each breed:


Wensleydale Sheep

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!


Registering Wensleydales

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



Navajo-Churro Sheep

Navajo-Churro sheep are a unique primitive breed of horned sheep with a rich history.  Descended from the Churra sheep brought to the continent by Spanish explorers, they were traded to the Navajo Indians of what is now Arizona.  Efforts of the US Government to move the Navajo Indian onto reservations and to "improve" the sheep led to their near extinction.  Efforts to save the breed have been ongoing and the Navajo-Churro are now listed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as "recovering".  

The NCS are small and very hardy sheep that appear in a wide range of colors.  Another unique feature of the NCS genetics is that they possess the 4-horn (polycerate) gene that has been lost to most breeds.  They are very easy to raise and are minimally affected by disease and parasitism.

NCS wool is long, straight  and lustrous. Average annual staple length is 12". Navajo-Churro wool is prized for its durability  and is most sought after for use in rugs and outerwear.  Yearling fleeces however may sometimes be suitable for next-to-skin projects.  NCS is a dual coated breed with a longer "hair like" outer coat protecting the underlying wool.  Older animals will possess a coarser hair coat, while young yearling fleeces hair coat is soft and fine.

Navajo Churro ram

For more information on Navajo-Churro sheep, please visit:
The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association

2008 Navajo Churro Sales List

#512: "Morning": Born 4/05. Unregistered red mesa ewe (registration denied for amount of curl in fleece over neck area). $100

#893: "May": Born 5/07. Unregistered white ewe (daughter of Morning). Well conformed ewe with excellent Churro fleece. $100

#891: "Snow": Born 5/07. Eligible for registration. White ewe with excellent conformation and fleece type. $125



Churrodale Sheep

Okay, so this isn't an actual breed. Due to fence failure 2 years in a row we have a produced a very interesting cross of Wensleydale x Churro. So what do you get when you cross a very large breed with a high luster, curly fleece with a small primitive breed that carries a straight double coat?
You get a large, fast maturing Churro-type sheep that produces a fleece that grows approximately 18-24" per year. We are currently shearing 6-8", three times per year!
The fleece is very high luster, double coated, with a crimpy wool fiber.
Our local fiber enthusiasts love this fleece! However, in order to concentrate on our purebred sheep, we are offering all of our Churrodales for sale. These sheep will be an excellent choice for a spinner's flock.

2008 Churrodale Sales List

#888: "GN": Born 3/07. White ewe, churro-type fleece with high luster and fine crimp to wool coat. $75

#895: "Prissy": Born 3/07. Black ewe, churro-type fleece with high luster and fine crimp to wool coat. $75

#801 and #804: Born 1/08. Black ewe yearlings. Fleeces are currently comparable to a lamb Churro with a fine hair coat and high luster. $75/each.

#802 and #803: Born 1/08. Black yearling rams. Beautiful, deep black fleeces as described above. May be wethered prior to purchase. $75/each.