Wensleydale sheep

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A Wensleydale in full fleece
Wool of an adult Wensleydale
A six days old black Wensleydale lamb resting.

The Wensleydale is a breed of domestic sheep that originated in the Wensleydale region of North Yorkshire, England[1][2] Possessing a blue–grey face, the breed was developed in the 19th century by crossing English Leicester and Teeswater sheep.[2] One of the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds, the Wensleydale has long, ringlet-like locks of wool. It is categorized as "at risk" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the U.K. as it has fewer than 1500 registered breeding females,[2] it is predominantly used today as a ram breed to cross with other breeds to obtain market lambs and for its high-quality wool.[1][2]


A recently shorn Wensleydale

The Wensleydale is a large long wool sheep with a distinctive grey black face, ears and legs. The ears are slightly elongated and stand upright. They are naturally polled and have a tuft of long wool on top of the head which is not typically sheered (for aesthetic purposes). Wool from this breed is acknowledged as the finest lustre long wool in the world. [3] The fleece from a purebred sheep is considered kemp free and curled or purled on out to the end. Rams weigh about 300 lbs and ewes about 250 lbs.

Average prolificacy: Yearling ewe - 200% Mature ewes - 250%

Twin lambs will average 13 pounds each at birth with a growth rate that enables ram lambs to reach 160 lbs. at 21 weeks.

Average lamb weight at 8 weeks: Singles - 57 lbs. Twins - 48 lbs. Micron count 33-35 Staple length 8-12 inches Yearling Fleece Weight 13-20 pounds.


The mating of a Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe in 1838 made the famous ram 'BLUE CAP' who was the first sire of the Wensleydale breed.

Today this breed is established throughout the United Kingdom and extends into mainland Europe, this breed is also being established in the United States of America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Wensleydale". Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University Dept. of Animal Science. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
  2. ^ a b c d "Wensleydale". Watchlist. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  3. ^ "Wensleydale". Sheep Breeds V-Z. Sheep101.info. Retrieved 2009-05-07.

External links[edit]