Rya sheep

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Rya sheep
Rya sheep

Rya, also known as Ryafår or Swedish Carpet Wool Sheep, is a breed of sheep that is native to Sweden.[1] The breed originated from the Swedish and Norwegian landrace breeds.[2] This double-coated breed of Swedish Landrace origin also contains some Norwegian Spælsau heritage.[1][3][4] The purpose of the sheep was to use the long, wavy, and shiny wool to produce rya-wool, which is often used to make carpets.[4][5] In the early twentieth century, few long wool sheep remained in the province of Dalarna, leading to the restoration of the rya sheep breed.[5] In 2000, there was a stable population of about two thousand rya sheep.[5] They can be found in northern and central Sweden.[3][6] Most of herds are located in Dalarna.[3] They are usually kept in small flocks.[2]

At the start of the 20th century, Dalarna had a population of sheep with long wool, which was popular in the area for decorating national costumes.[3] In 1915, breeding was done to obtain sheep that produced this "rya-wool".[3][7]

The rya sheep is a medium-sized sheep with relatively short legs, and has strong and shiny long wool fibers.[3] The legs, tail, forehead, cheek, and crown do not have wool.[3] For a three-month-old lamb, the wool can be 6 in (15 cm) long, and for an adult, the wool can be up to 12 in (30 cm) long.[4] Half the fleece should be the hair coat, which should be lustrous with a well-defined, broad crimp.[4] Attaining wool fibers of at least 15 cm in length with a maximum crimp of 3 crimps per 5 cm is the breeding goal.[2] The sheep are white, but there are some grey, black, and brown individuals.[4][5] The adult wither height is 75 cm for rams and 70 cm for ewes.[5] The live weight is 70 kg for rams and 50 kg for ewes.[5][8] Both the rams and ewes are polled and have long tails.[5]

The rya sheep is also known to be highly fertile.[3] The mean litter size is 2.1 lambs at birth.[5]

The sheep is also characterized by lambing ease and by their ability to forage in rough terrain.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Valerie Porter; Ian Lauder Mason (27 June 2002). Mason's world dictionary of livestock breeds, types, and varieties. CABI. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-85199-430-7. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Eva-Marie Stålhammar, Zofia Kurowska. "Sheep Breeding in Sweden". Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nordic Baltic Farm Animal Database". Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Deborah Robson; Carol Ekarius (1 June 2011). The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn. Storey Publishing. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-60342-711-1. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h North SheD. "Rya sheep". Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  6. ^ "Rya". Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Animal Science. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  7. ^ "Ryafår". lammproducenterna.org. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Breed description: Rya Sheep". SHEEP in SWEDEN. Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Retrieved 2009-04-30.