The islands of Newfoundland are mainly supported through fisheries, but a persistent population of sheep has been present since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and a native landrace has developed since that time. Though it has never been fully recognized as a breed, Newfoundland sheep are a distinct genetic base. Both Border Cheviot and North Country Cheviot are known to have been major contributors to Newfoundland bloodlines, and there may have also been contributions from other breeds such as the Suffolk, Border Leicester, Dorset and Scottish Blackface.
Newfoundland sheep show fairly wide variability, but are generally medium sheep - Very few ewes are horned, and rams can be either horned or polled. All Newfoundlands are characterized by a great deal of hardiness, able to survive off of poor native forage.Newfoundland Sheep are medium size and come in multiple colours. Rams are mostly horned and some ewes are horned as well.
Coinciding with a general decline in sheep populations in the region, Newfoundland sheep of the native type decline to less than 200 individuals at one point. Thanks to attention by universities, rare breed organizations, and farmers, numbers have increased, but the breed is considered critically endangered still.
- Vorwald Dohner, Jane (2001). The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08880-9.
- Ekarius, Carol (2008). Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60342-036-5.
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