The fleece of the Bluefaced Leicester is one of the finest of any of the native sheep breeds and classed as demi-lustre with a weight of 1-2kg and a staple length of 8-15cm. It commands the highest price per kilo from the British Wool Marketing Board with the wool quality being passed on to its cross-bred progeny. The fleece has a Bradford count of 56 – 60.
Hexham in Northumberland. The crossing rams used at that time were the descendants of Robert Bakewell’s Dishley Leicester. Border Leicester individuals with darker skin pigment and finer fleece were selected and these became the base for the new breed. They were bred to produce top quality cross-bred ewes from the native Blackface and Swaledale ewes. This first generation cross is called the “Mule” and once established the breed quickly became used throughout the main sheep farming areas of the UK.
The Bluefaced Leicester is a large sheep with ewes growing to about 80kg at maturity and rams 115kg. They have a broad muzzle with a Roman nose and the head skin shows dark blue through the white hair. The breed is hornless.
By the 1930s the Bluefaced Leicester had developed into a distinct breed and in the 1960s the Bluefaced Leicester Sheep Breeders Association was established to promote the merits of the breed.
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