Breed Profile: Lincoln Longwool Sheep (Video)

Interested in shepherding? Lincoln longwools are both good meat sheep and producers of high-quality wool, and are a heritage breed dating to the height of the Roman Empire in Britain.

Courtesy The Livestock Conservancy

Lincoln longwools are one of the four English longwool breeds: Cotswold, Leicester Longwool, Lincoln and Wensleydale. The Lincoln longwool sheep originated in the marshy lowlands of Lincolnshire, where the luxuriant pastures and turnip fields were used to produce large, long wooled sheep. In the early 1800s, Lincolnshire sheep were crossed with Robert Bakewell’s improved Leicesters, and the offspring were further selected for earlier maturation and improved meat quality. During the second half of the 1800s, Lincoln longwools were exported in large numbers to Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and several other South American countries.

Lincoln longwool sheep are large, deep bodied and sturdy. Rams weigh 225-300 pounds, and ewes average 210 pounds. Their wool is long and lustrous, with the fleece growing about twelve inches per year and each sheep producing twelve to sixteen pounds of wool. Lincoln longwools may be white or colored, including shades of grey, silver, charcoal and black; while the National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association in the United States registers colored Lincolns, the British association does not.

This heritage breed became rare in the 1900s, with fewer than 1,000 purebred ewes remaining in Britain by 1980. Lincoln longwool numbers have since increased due to a revival of interest in the breed’s wool. Today, there are an estimated 1,500 ewes in Britain, with populations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

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