A cross produced by mixing English Leicester (now extinct) with the Cheviot. Large hornless, with characteristic long ears and Roman nose.
The Border Leicester is a breed of sheep that originated in the border region of England and Scotland. It is commonly referred to as the “Border Leicester” or simply the “Leicester” sheep. The breed is known for its excellent wool quality, meat production, and versatility.
Here are some key characteristics of the Border Leicester sheep breed:
- Appearance: Border Leicesters are large-sized sheep with a strong and well-balanced body structure. They have a long, deep body with a broad back and well-developed hindquarters. The head is alert and carries no wool. The breed has long, upright ears and a distinctive Roman nose.
- Wool: The Border Leicester is primarily valued for its high-quality wool. The fleece is dense, lustrous, and fine, with a staple length ranging from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). The wool is prized for its spinning and felting properties, making it suitable for a wide range of applications, including clothing, textiles, and crafts.
- Meat Production: While primarily known for their wool, Border Leicesters are also bred for meat production. They have a good meat-to-bone ratio and produce well-muscled carcasses. The meat is considered flavorful and tender, making it suitable for both lamb and mutton.
- Adaptability: Border Leicesters are known for their adaptability to various environments. They have good foraging abilities and are capable of thriving in different climates, including both harsh and more favorable conditions. They are often used in crossbreeding programs to improve the qualities of other breeds.
- Temperament: Border Leicesters are generally docile and easy to handle, which makes them suitable for both commercial farming and small-scale operations. They are known for their calm nature and make good mothers, exhibiting strong maternal instincts.
The Border Leicester breed has made a significant contribution to the development of other sheep breeds around the world through crossbreeding programs. Its genetic influence can be seen in various longwool and crossbred breeds.