This month our Fibre Focus talks about the Bluefaced Leicester Sheep, which is the most popular crossing sire throughout the British Isles, but can you guess what it used to be commonly known as?
The Bluefaced Leicester evolved from a breeding scheme to develop the Longwool sheep in the 1700's, by Robert Bakewell, and was originally known as the Dishly Leicester. The breed was developed over the next 200 years and became commonly known as the Hexham Leicester due to its early concentration in the North of England.
In 1963 the Bluefaced Leicester (as it is now known) Sheep Breeders Association was formed to encourage the breeding and maintain the purity of the sheep. The Sheep
Bluefaced Leicester sheep should have a broad muzzle, good mouth and a tendency towards a roman nose, bright alert eyes and long erect ears. The colour of the head skin should be dark blue showing through white hair; although a little brown is acceptable. There should be a good length of neck laid into broad shoulders with a good spring of rib and a long strong back with no weakness behind the shoulder. The Wool
They have curly threadlike wool which makes it considerably lighter than others. Some fleeces only weigh 1 to 3 kg (2.2 to 6.6 lb). These particular kind of sheep have no wool on the head or neck. It is important that the wool be tightly purled, fine and open cleanly to the skin.
The wool is fine and dense with a good lustre and is long, therefore, it is well suited to combing. The fleece is highly prized for its likeness to mohair and for its production of attractive lustrous yarns with good resilience. 26 Micron and an average length of 85-90mm. Perfect for hand spinning, hand felting and many other craft uses.
Source: Bluefaced Leicesters