The Llanwenog is a medium sized sheep breed originating in West Wales with a short, fine, white fleece weighing on average 2-2½ kg. having a staple length of 6-10cm and a Bradford Count of 56 – 58.
The breed was established by crossing Shropshire rams with the local, now extinct type of horned, blackfaced ewe from the Llanllwni area. Major sales of Shropshires used to be held in Shrewsbury and once a rail link had been extended from there to Carmarthen via Cardiganshire by 1867, several flocks of the breed were established by the local gentry with estates along the route from Abermad and Trawsgoed in the north down to Derry Ormond, Highmead, Neuadd Fawr and Bwlchbychan in the Teifi valley. Sales of rams from these flocks to local tenant farmers then spread the breed’s influence more widely when the crossbred ewe lambs’ merits as flock replacements were appreciated. However the demands of food production during the Second World War lead to various amounts of further outcrossing with larger breeds that began to erode an established uniformity of type. This threat was one of the factors that prompted the choice of a new name for a sheep breed. Wool merchants had referred to them as “Shropshire Crosses” and local shows in the 1930s held classes for “Blackfaces”. In 1957 the Llanwenog Sheep Society was formed to promote and preserve what was now recognized to be a separate breed with some exceptional qualities. The choice of “Llanwenog” for the name reflected the distribution of many of these flocks within the parish of that name.
Ewes weigh roughly 55kg (121lbs) and rams 90kg (198lbs). They have a black face and legs with a tuft of white wool on the forehead . Both sexes are polled (without horns). The Llanwenog is a very docile breed which makes for stress-free handling. The ewes readily take to in-wintering if required and the absence of the strong desire to wander, which occurs in other Welsh breeds, makes for easy shepherding.
Unfortunately the number of purebred Llanwenogs has been decreasing in recent years and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust 2015 Watchlist show the number of registered breeding ewes has fallen below three thousand. The Llanwenog have returned to a Category 5 (Minority) after successfully progressed from the Watchlist categories in 2008.
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