Thursday, 4 April 2013


Down breed

Staple: 6-10 cm

24.5-32.5 microns

[1]Conservation Breed

 Rare breed timeline
·         1973 Shropshire Sheep numbers 'critical' on the RBST's watch list
·         1984 Increasing numbers mean Shropshires move to the watch list 'endangered' category
·         1991 Shropshires move further to 'at risk' on the watch list
·         2005 More increases see Shropshires move to 'minority breed'
·         2013 Shropshires removed from the conservation watch list

Shropshire Sheep are the oldest breed of British farm livestock to have officially recorded pedigrees. Descendants can be traced back to 1792, where Morfe Common sheep were found grazing the rolling pasturelands of Shrewsbury in Shropshire County, England. The native Longmynd also contributed to its ancestry, as well as the Cannock Chase, Whittington Heath and Clun Forest.

Originating from the hills of Shropshire  and North Staffordshire, England, during the 1840s, the breeders in the area used the local horned black-faced sheep and crossed them with a few breeds of white-faced sheep. Southdown (to breed out coarseness and horns), Cotswold, and Leicester (to improve size and wool length). This produced a medium-sized polled (hornless) sheep that produced good wool and meat. In 1855 the first Shropshires were imported into the US and was primarily raised for meat.

The breed's adaptability to most environments and their dual-purpose nature led to them quickly becoming a popular breed.

1940s US breeders began producing Shropshires with more wool cover and decreased size which led to problems resulting with loss of popularity to becoming increasingly rare around the world, even in its homeland. By the 1950’s they were again being bred back to their original popular traits. Today the traditional Shropshire sheep is considered a rare breed in most countries. Canada's Heritage Shropshire sheep are close to extinction with less than 125 registered breeding animals remaining.
The Fiber: Shropshires are covered with fine, dense wool, elastic to touch, medium fine, well crimped, with evenness of texture throughout. Shropshire are primarily white and free from black fiber. Coloured strains exsist

My Spinning Experience: [2] My sample was from a coloured strain. A pleasant medium soft, shorter staple spin with resulting next-to-Princess-skin softness of yarn



[1] Whilst this breed was on the conservation list, at time of spinning and initial research, Shropshires had just been removed from the conservation watch list . The Shropshire Sheep Breeders' Association welcomed the news and confirmed the breeding population had increased from fewer than 500 in the early 1970s to over 3,000 in 2012. This is an increase of 500%
[2] A lot of my British Breed samples were obtained through Caroline’s Etsy store, Woolforbrains, where they are consistently high quality.

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