Jacob fleeces are basically white with black or brown patches and the ratio can vary vastly between sheep, ranging from almost all brown to all white with only small patches of black or brown. The skin beneath the white fleece is pink, while skin beneath coloured spots is darkly pigmented. These colours can be sorted and spun separately, or blended to give a variety of different shades. The fleece can be light, soft and springy and varies in crimp and fineness with an average staple length of 8-15cm and a Bradford Count of 44 – 56. Each fleece weighing 2-2½kg.
There are different views about the origins of the Jacob sheep, although it is known to have been bred in Britain for at least 350 years and spotted sheep were widespread by the mid eighteenth century. At this time the Jacobs were often kept as ornamental animals, grazed in parks.
The Jacob is a medium sized sheep with ewes weighing 60-65kg and rams 80-100kg.
As well as their distinctive colouring the Jacobs grow, either two or four, and occasionally, six impressive horns. Four horned rams have two vertical centre horns which may be 61cm (2 ft) or more in length and two smaller side horns which grow down along the side of the head.
Numbers of the breed diminished with the decline of many of the great estates so the Jacob Sheep Society was founded in 1969 by a small group of dedicated breeders who were concerned at the reducing numbers of pure bred sheep. It’s aims are to foster the breeding and promote interest in the Jacob sheep both in the United Kingdom and abroad. In recent years the breed has progressed from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist, with now over 3000 adult ewes registered.
|Paul Glendell||© Natural England|
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