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Home Page > General-information > 2009 Leicester Longwool

 

The 2009 Featured Breed artwork is called "Stacy" by Joanie Livermore.

The 2009 Leicester Longwool contact is : Joan Henry  304-379-9100

 or visit the Leicester Longwool website:  www.leicesterlongwool.org

At "Dishley Grange" farm in  Leicestershire, England, visitors today can still see signs of the innovative farming techniques of a pioneering 18th century farmer named Robert Bakewell. Recognizing that with selective breeding he could make changes over time to the traits of his livestock, he made profound improvements to hogs, horses and his prized longhorn cattle. But his triumph was the Leicester Longwool sheep, which has since played a vital role in the development of many of our familiar modern sheep breeds.

A large framed, dual-purpose sheep carrying a heavy long-stapled fleece, the Leicester Longwool is a sturdy, efficient and adaptable breed. Making good use of marginal forages they can thrive in a wide variety of climatic conditions. Rams average 250 lbs, and ewes 180 lbs. Ewes are good mothers giving plenty of rich milk, with a lambing percentage of 120-150% and higher in selected flocks.

Founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both had large flocks of sheep and took pains to bring in good Leicester rams from England to improve their stock.

World travelers, Leicester Longwools have been exported to mainland Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. In 1826 the Leicester Longwool was one of the first pure breeds to be imported into Australia. Today it is known there as the "English Leicester," and is valued as a crossing sire to improve the carcass qualities of finewool breeds.

During the late 19th and early 20th century the Leicester gradually fell out of favor as it was replaced by newer breeds. By the 1930's it was nearly extinct in North America. Today it's classified as "rare" by the
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, but is enjoying a revival of interest due to the wonderful lustrous fleece and other desirable traits. 

Leicester Longwool Card Grading 

Card grading is a form of judging that is fairer to the animal and of more practical use for the breeder than the traditional system of judging used in this country.   In card grading the animals are judged individually against the Breed Standard.  In a rare breed, this form of judging animals is very helpful.  It keeps one or two individuals from being used at the genetic expenses of other qualified breeding animals. 

Sheep are evaluated by 2 or 3 experts, familiar with the breed.  Sheep are let loose individually in a confined area for the evaluators to observe.   The sheep are not led or "shown" by their owner.

All 3 evaluators voice their opinions on each animal and a consensus is formed at how that animal conforms to the breed standard.  

Blue Card - An excellent breeding animal, conforming to the breed standard and free from any genetic unsoundness.

Red Card - A good breeding animal, which shows most of the breed characteristics and is free from genetic unsoundness.

Yellow Card - An acceptable breeding animal, with no disqualifying deviations from the breed standard, nor genetic unsoundness.

White Card - An unacceptable breeding animal which does not conform to the breed standard, is of another breed or is genetically unsound.

The breeder can use card grading as a helpful tool by selecting breeding animals that correct any faults that their animal might have, to produce better offspring. 

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