The Wensleydale comes from the region of the same name in North Yorkshire, England.
It is thought the breed came about, after the crossing of a Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe, as far back as 1838. The breed is one of the world’s largest and heaviest of all breeds, though there are reported to be less than 1500 registered breeding females. This resulted in the breed being categorized as “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The breed is established in the UK, USA and mainland Europe.
The breed is mainly used today to cross rams with other breeds for market lambs and a higher wool quality.
They are probably best known for their unique ringlet like wools. They are a large, long-wooled sheep, with a distinctive black colouring on their face, ears, and legs. Their ears are standing upright and are elongated.
They are a naturally polled sheep, with a small tuft of long wool nesting on the top of their head. Their wool is widely considered as the finest of the long-wools in the country. Wool from a purebred sheep is kemp free and curled out to the end. Ewes tend to weigh on average 110-115kgs at sexual maturity, while rams average at 135kgs. Newborn lambs meanwhile vary from 6-9kgs.