Around 1755, at Dishley Grange farm near Loughborough Leicestershire, the innovative farming techniques of pioneering 18th century farmer Robert Bakewell developed the first ’commercial improving’ animal. Recognizing that with selective breeding he could make changes over time to the traits of his livestock, he made profound improvements to pigs, horses and his prized longhorn cattle. But his triumph was the Leicester Longwool sheep, which has since played a vital role in the development of many of our familiar modern sheep breeds
A large framed, dual-purpose sheep carrying a heavy long-stapled fleece, the Leicester Longwool is a sturdy, efficient and adaptable breed. Making good use of marginal forages they can thrive in a wide variety of climatic conditions. Ewes are good mothers giving plenty of rich milk. They comfortably survive the extremes of the winters and at lambing time the lambs having a better covering of wool and the ability to get up quickly.
The Leicester Longwool is a sturdy, efficient and adaptable breed.
Leicester Longwools have been exported to around the world. In 1826 the Leicester was one of the first pure breeds to be imported into Australia; and the founding fathers of America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both had large flocks of sheep and took pains to bring in good Leicester rams from England to improve their stock.
The head is bold and strong on a short thick neck. The crown is well covered with wool, and the face covered in white (black) hair. The ears are blue (on white sheep), fine and fairly long with occasional spots. The muzzle is strong with even jaws, and the nostrils are dark in colour. The body is deep and of considerable length with full flanks. The back is broad and level, the ribs being well sprung. The legs are of medium length with good bone, well set up on the pasterns on dark feet. The legs are covered in white (black) hair, the back legs usually being covered in wool