Registered Shetland Sheep
NASSA Flock # 703
VSCP - flock OH81
We began our adventure with Shetland Sheep about six years ago... We had kept a few Jacobs with lovely fleeces, and were looking for a few more.... the farm we went to had Shetlands as well, and we fell instantly in love with these wooly tribbles! We came home with a lovely moorit ewe lamb and a little black wether.... the rest as they say, is history :-)
History: Shetland sheep originated on the remote Shetland Islands. They are a primitive landrace breed belonging to the northern short tail group. It is believed that they are descendants of sheep brought by Viking settlers over 1000 years ago. It is speculated that the Viking sheep interbred with the primitive sheep already present on the islands. What evolved in the isolated harsh climate of these islands was a small, hardy, agile sheep with wool of exceptional fineness.
Breed Characteristics: The Shetlands are the smallest of the British breeds. Mature ewes range from about 50 to 90 pounds, while mature rams range from 60 to 125 pounds. They should be fine boned with an alert nimble carriage. Rams are generally horned, while ewes are usually hornless. Polled rams and horned ewes have been noted in the breed however. Their short fluke shaped tails never need docking.
While Shetlands appear to be small, delicate animals, they are not only intelligent, but well muscled, nimble and quick, and possess great strength. They are extremely hardy and adaptable. Their natural hardiness is virtually unknown in modern sheep breeds, making them well suited to less than ideal conditions. Many a time in winter we will find the sheep outside of their shelters, sometimes covered in several inches of snow... :-)
The ewes are excellent mothers, and lambing problems are rare. Praise the Lord, we have never had one....The lambs are born quite small. Our smallest so far was a 2 1/4 lb triplet who was on her feet and nursing within 5 minutes after her birth! Usually they are between 4 to 8 pounds, but grow rapidly. Twins are usually born to older ewes, while first time moms usually have singles.
Shetland sheep are perfect for small farms and homesteads.. They are generally a calm, docile, easy to manage breed. While the ewes can be tamed and handled easily, it is best not to make a pet out of a ram. All of our rams come to the fence and enjoy chin scratches... they will even wag their little tails, :-) but rams, no matter how tame they may appear, are predictable in their unpredictability and should always be treated with respect, especially during breeding season.
Rams can get bored and destroy things if they have nobody to play with.... and those with just a few sheep should consider purchasing a wether to keep a lone ram company, or keeping the ram with the ewes year round, as Shetlands... like all sheep are flock animals. Outside of breeding season, we have a ram pen, and the boys get along together just fine :-)
The Wool: Natural Shetland wool is soft, durable, and warm. It is the finest of any wool produced by the British landrace breeds. While the term "shetland" has become generic and is often applied to commercial grade wool sweaters and products, true Shetland wool is only from Shetland sheep. Fleeces will vary greatly between animals--from a lovely well-developed crimp to a wavy, sturdy fiber with a silky hand and a soft downy undercoat. You really need to handle a Shetland to understand why spinners love these beautiful sheep.... Their wool has a light grease, a variety of delectable textures, and comes in a rainbow of natural colors (there are 11 official colors): White, light grey, grey, emsket (dusky bluish grey), shaela (dark steely grey, resembling black frost), black, musket (light greyish brown), fawn, mioget (light moorit, yellowish-brown), moorit (shades between fawn and dark reddish brown), and dark brown. Many times on an individual sheep there will be color variegations right down to the skin, not to mention the fact that they can exhibit some 32 different markings and patterns.
Shetland wool is highly resistant to felting, and is machine washable. The staple length can vary on each sheep, but typically is from 4-8 inches long. No two fleeces are exactly the same in character or color, so no matter what type of project you have in mind a Shetland will more than likely have a fleece to suit it. It has traditionally been used for fine knitting yarns. The Shetland Islands were famous for their Fair Isle garments as well as their knitted shawls using neck wool that was spun so finely that shawls five feet square could be drawn through a wedding ring.
We do sell a select # of our skirted raw fleeces but process our own wool by hand, so do not sell roving or yarn as it is too labor intensive. We will however use our naturally colored or hand dyed, combed, spun and woven wool to make a custom shawl to your specifications, a truly one of a kind gift for you or a loved one :-)
Lamb'z Own Shetlands
P.O. Box 381
Nashville, Ohio 44661
support at lambzown.com
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