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Tautersheep female photographed around 1910
Tautersheep male photographed around 1910

Tautersheep is an extinct breed of sheep from the island Tautra in Frosta in Norway. It was a sheep with fine wool resembling the Spanish merino. The origin of the breed is disputed, but could possibly be merino sheep brought to Tautra cloister several hundred years ago and afterwards mixed with old Norse sheep. Others have claimed that the origin is the English Ryeland, which suggest that the Tautersheep was a far younger race.

The fine wool made the Tautersheep very popular and at the end of the 19th century it was quite well known, but had problems because the wool had a tendency to grow over the eyes of the animal. As early as 1805 70 Tautersheep were exported to Sweden and in 1884 some were sold to Denmark and later exported to The Faroe Islands. The fertility was low and the sheep had problems with the stony Norwegian terrain. As foreign sheep breeds became more common in Norway in the 20th century the interest in breeding Tautersheep declined.

After the Second World War the individuals of the breed gradually grew fewer and in 1959 only one place bred Tautersheep. Six grown individuals and five lambs were the only ones left. The breeding organisation dismissed the breed and the sheep were advertised, but no buyers turned up. The last Tautersheep were then slaughtered and the breed became extinct.


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