Our entire breeding flock of Shetlands AND Bluefaced Leicesters have tested negative for OPP ('08,'09, '17)
My personal goals with the Shetland Sheep are to have the 1927 Standard, single coated, FINELY fleeced animals that are 25 microns on average. They also should be parasite resistant, have strong conformation, produce multiple lambs each year, be blood tested negative flock, and come in an array of colors and patterns. I also enjoy an occasional spotted animal, although I feel that breeding specifically for any one marking or pattern is not in the best interest of the breed. I myself am new to spinning and am learning on my own, fine fleeced sheep. I believe in breeding these animals true to what they were intended for in their home land is important to me.
The Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association was formed to preserve and protect the true, heritage, primitive, kindly fleeced Shetland, that the 1927 Standard was made to protect. After having visited the UK, including the Shetland Islands, in October 2013, I believe our farm, and FFSSA are on the right track.
The FFSSA, and its breeders, are in line with our sister organizations, the Shetland Sheep Society of mainland UK, and the Shetland FlockBook Trust, which is based on the Shetland Islands.
More info on the Shetland Sheep:
The Shetland is a small, fine boned sheep belonging to the Northern Short-tailed group that has evolved in relative isolation in Shetland since the late 8th century. The high quality wool - the finest of any British breed, averaging 23 microns in diameter - is noted for fineness of crimp and resilience, forming the basis of the world renowned Shetland woolen industry.
Rams are usually horned and ewes horn-less, though polled rams and ewes with short horns can occur. A highly characteristic feature is a short fluke-shaped tail. Classified as a primitive breed, the Shetland retains the hardiness, ease of parturition, longevity and ability to thrive on a low intake of feed common among such groups. Ewes usually weighing up to 90 pounds, while rams can get up to 110 pounds.
As a pure breed the sheep produces very high quality lean meat with outstanding flavor and fine texture. When crossed with a suitable terminal sire the heavier, faster maturing lamb is readily acceptable at markets.
There are eleven main whole colors in Shetland sheep, with many shades and variants in between. The breed has more colors and patterns than any other breed with eleven whole colors and more than 30 recognized markings have been identified.
- Hardy & thrifty
- Hill ewes will live and thrive outside
- Lively lambs with a strong will to live, get up quickly and feed
- Milky mothers - yearlings will rear twins and mature ewes can rear triplets
- Versatile - ewes have a large pelvis and will successfully cross with a terminal sire
- Shetland meat - lean with superb flavor and is low in lipid fat - excellent for low cholesterol diets
In 2008 we did our first Laproscopic Artificial Insemination with several friends. We did ground breedings with a select group of ewes to several proven yearling rams and several promising ram lambs. The ewes that were used in AI are those that exhibited outstanding fleece and structure qualities as well as possessed a pedigree that will compliment the rams we put them to. 100% conception rate!
In fall 2009 we again did LAI, but did it in our hometown. 21 ewes were AI'ed and 19 of them settled, making that a 90% conception rate! These lambs are indeed quite stunning and I'm very happy to have them!