Why You Need Some of Your Own!
Having had Arapawa sheep in New Zealand, we searched the United Kingdom to find a similar type of sheep; a small build, with a fine, low micron fleece, yet with stunning natural colours. After being tempted by a few varieties, we settled on Shetland sheep because our research had discovered they have the finest micron fleece of any native sheep in the United Kingdom and come in a range of colours that blend perfectly with our alpaca colours.
The Shetland Sheep Society recommends them as ideal for smaller flocks due to their lack of complex equipment and housing needs. They explain the many other reasons that make them an attractive sheep to own; their hardiness, ability to live and thrive outside 12 months of the year in most locations, they can survive on poor quality grazing, and a higher stocking density can be used on fertile pasture. They are easy lambers and good mothers with lively lambs that have a strong will to live, get up quickly and feed, who have a good outside survival rate. They produce a high quality wool, the finest of any British breed, ready market for fleeces and popular with hand spinners. The colour diversity of the wool with the wide range of colours and markings can be used undyed to maintain softness (dyeing can harden the wool).
There are eleven main whole colours in Shetland sheep, with many shades and variants in between. After the different colours and shades, they are further uniquely identified with more than 30 recognised markings having been identified on their face, body and legs, making them an even more unique, varied and stunning looking breed.
The Shetland is originally from the Shetland Isles and is proven to be hardy, adaptable and long-lived. Tweed is produced from coarser Shetland wool, but the Shetland Isles are best known for their multi-coloured knitwear and for the traditional knitted lace shawls which are so fine, they will pass through a wedding ring.
Without a doubt they are the easiest, lowest maintenance breed we have on the farm but they are also the ones who give us the run around! We have lost count of the number times they have outsmarted us when it is worming, toenail or shearing time. Yet, once penned up, they are easy to work with and stay very healthy, hardy and happy.