Breed Standards

CHARACTERISTIC POINTS OF WENSLEYDALE LONGWOOL SHEEP


​UK Conformation Breed Standards (visual guide): click here

WOOL: Bright and lustrous. Staple of medium breadth and excellent length; each staple curled or purled out to the end. Of equal staple all over the back and sides from shoulder to breech. The whole fleece free and open and free from mistiness on the back. The belly and scrotum should be covered with wool and be free from hair. Regarding a black spot on a white animal or a white spot on a colored animal: any registered animal, at one year of age, shall not have more than one spot within the wooled area of the body and that spot shall not exceed 2.5 cm (approximate size of a quarter).

HEAD: Broad at the muzzle, especially in rams. Back of head flat and wide between ears. The face seen in profile should show good depth of jaw. Ears of good size, neatly set on and well carried. Head and ears of a deep blue tinge which often extends to the rest of the body. Tuft of wool on the forehead. Back of head, especially around the ears, covered with fine wool. Entire absence of hair about the forehead, back of head and ears. Any registered animal, at one year of age, shall not have a scur or horn over 3/4 in length, and such scurs or horns on breeding rams should be discouraged.

NECK: Strong, rising gracefully from the shoulders and carrying the head at a good height.

SHOULDERS: Well laid back into the crop, which should be wide and full.

CHEST: Coming well down and forward between the forelegs, wide on the floor of the chest. Ribs well sprung.

[Wensleydale] BACK, LOINS, SIDES AND QUARTERS: Great length of side, loins broad and well covered with firm flesh along the back. Hindquarters long, square and well fleshed. Root of tail broad.

THIGHS, LEGS AND FEET: Thighs well down into the hocks, large and broad behind. Legs with plenty of bone, free of coarse or pigmented hair, straight set on at each corner and well apart. Hind legs with nice covering of fine wool from hock to hoof. Feet moderately large and well shaped.

TEETH: Should be well placed in good opposition to dental pad.

TESTICLES: Rams should have two even and good sized testicles. Those with a single testicle or a scrotal hernia should not be used for breeding.

STATISTICS:


      Mature weight: 

  • Rams - 300 lbs. 
  • Ewes - 250lbs.

      Birth Weight:

  • Twin lambs will average 13 pounds each at birth with a growth rate that enables ram lambs to reach 160 lbs. at 21 weeks.


      Average lamb weight at 8 weeks:

  • Singles - 57 lbs. 
  • Twins - 48 lbs.


      Average prolificacy: 

  • Yearling ewe - 200% 
  • Mature ewes - 250%


      Wool:

  • Micron count 33-35 
  • Staple length 8-12 inches 
  • Yearling Fleece Weight 13-20 pounds
  • Wensleydale wool is the finest and most valuable luster longwool in the world.


Fleeces are entirely kemp free as a result of the unique characteristics of the wool-producing follicles. This special quality is genetically transmitted to cross-bred lambs, characterizing the Wensleydale ram as perhaps the leading wool improving sire in the world.

Wensleydale wool is used for its special effects and handle in hand knitting yarn, knitwear and cloth and sometimes in upholstery fabrics. Because of its similarity, it is regularly used to blend with mohair.

      (Source: British Meat and Livestock Commission recorded data) 

BASIC GENETICS:

      There are three genetic color types of Wensleydale sheep:

      Color Gene Status                                                Abbreviation

  • White Two white genes                                       WW
  • White One white gene & one black gene         Wb
  • Black Two black genes                                         bb


The black gene is recessive to the white gene in the Wensleydale. This means that if there is a white gene present, the effect of any black gene will be masked by the dominant white gene, resulting in a white lamb that is carrying the black gene. If there is no white gene present, the black genes can then be effective in producing a black lamb.