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wpe5E.jpg (4970 bytes) SHETLAND SHEEP AT FIBRE WORKS FARM

   
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wpe5E.jpg (4970 bytes) General Facts On
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Shetland Sheep
Photo Album

   

 

General Information

Even though Shetlands are considered a British breed, the Shetland sheep in Canada and the United States have roots going back over a thousand years to Scandinavia.  Norse settlers probably brought the ancestors of our Shetlands to the Shetland Isles.  Many of the terms still used to describe Shetland colours and patterns resemble words found in the  Old Norse/ Norn languages,  Shetland sheep are part of the Northern European short-tailed group along with the Finnsheep, Norwegian Spaelsau, Icelandics, Romanovs and others. Shetlands were first imported from the U.K. to Canada (the Flett flock in Saskatchewan and the Dailley flock in Ontario) and have now spread throughout North America. There are Shetland breeders in almost every Province and State. A recent importation of purebred Shetland semen from the U.K. to the U.S. will compliment the established bloodlines from the original importations.

Shetlands are classed as a landrace or "unimproved" breed. This characterization is borne out by their ability to survive, thrive and procreate with little intervention from their human friends. They are small and slow growing but retain their traits of hardiness, thriftiness, longevity and adaptability. The ewes are generally easy lambers, good mothers with plenty of milk and can be fiercely protective of their lambs. Twins are common and with triplets also occurring and most are raised without difficulty by the ewes.

fiona & lambs, april 99.jpg (35176 bytes)

The Shetland is the smallest of the British breeds. Rams usually weigh 40 to 55 kilos (90 to 125 pounds) and ewes about 35 to 45 kilos (75 to 100 pounds). They are fine-boned and their naturally short, fluke-shaped tails do not require docking. They are very efficient foragers and feed converters and do well on much less than most larger, improved breeds of sheep. Rams usually have spiral horns, whereas most ewes are polled. Many of the sheep have friendly dispositions and some even wag their tails when given a chin scratch.

While renowned for their fine wool and a handspinner's delight, Shetlands can also be used as a dual purpose breed. They can be crossed with an early maturing terminal sire (such as a Ryeland or a Dorset). The fat crossbred lambs make excellent eating and dress out well. In addition, purebred Shetland meat rates high on taste and fits in well with modern trends toward smaller, leaner cuts of meat. However, it is slow to mature. Wethers are often held through to yearlings before being shipped for slaughter due to their smaller carcass size.

The North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association is available to assist breeders of Shetland sheep in North America in maintaining the purity and quality of the breed and to provide accurate registration and pedigree records for informed breeding decisions. Fibre Works Farm is a member of NASSA and is registered as Flock number 589.

North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association
265 Truway Road
Luxemburg, WI, 54217
USA

Phone (920) 837-2167

NASSA maintains the Shetland Sheep Registry in North America, publishes an annual flock book and provides members with a very informative and educational quarterly newsletter.

The breed society for the Shetland Islands is the Shetland Flock Book Society. On the mainland U.K. the Shetland Sheep Breeders Group (SSBG) act as the breed society. Breed standards used by the various associations are based on the breed standard set in the 1920s.

Purebred Shetland numbers have been increasing in recent years and they have now been reclassified from a 'rare breed' to a 'minority breed' under the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST). This is no doubt due to the dedication and work of many Shetland breeders determined to preserve the heritage and the worth inherent in the Shetland breed.

Late Summer Pasture, Bergen 1999.JPG (32128 bytes) Late Summer Pasture,
Bergen, 1999

 

 

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Linda Wendelboe
Fibre Works Farm,
Box 43, Site 2, RR#2

Sundre, Alberta, Canada  T0M 1X0

Telephone   403-638-3912
FAX     403-638-8052
E-MAIL     info@fibreworksfarm.com

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Send mail to webmaster@fibreworksfarm.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 1999 Fibre Works Farm
Last modified: February 25, 2005