The Leicester Longwool, developed in the 1700’s by Robert Bakewell, has an interesting history and significant genetic value. George Washington was so impressed by the new Leicester breed that in several of his letters in 1793 President Washington referenced Mr. Bakewell’s work in developing modern techniques for the selection of livestock. In the 19th and 20th Centuries the Leicester was used in the development of many new English sheep breeds. Today the Leicester Longwool is a rare breed, listed as "critical" by ALBC, with fewer than 700 registered animals in the U.S. and fewer than 2,500 worldwide. The breed was reintroduced to the U.S. by Colonial Williamsburg in 1990.
Leicester Longwool ewes are calm, easy to manage, excellent mothers, have excellent milking capacity and generally have twins. The rams we acquired from Colonial Williamsburg are polled, extremely gentle and pass this trait onto their progeny. The Leicester’s long-stapled fleece is prized by hand spinners for its soft handling and lustrous beauty. Sheared twice a year, an average fleece weighs between five and six pounds.
Raising sheep since 1989, OGF acquired its initial Leicester Longwool flock of seven ewes and three rams from Colonial Williamsburg in 2003. We subsequently added four rams produced from imported New Zealand, Australian and English semen. Our flock now includes 30 breeding ewes and 11 flock-rams representing three distinct bloodlines - Riverside, Beechwood and Ravenswood.
We were pleased to add eight colored ewes and two colored rams to our flock in 2007. Colored Leicester Longwools are either "English Blue" (a shaded gray) or black. The introduction of color in the Leicester Longwool breed became possible using imported semen from colored New Zealand and Australian rams. There are fewer than 100 colored Leicester Longwools in the U.S.
Our flock is USDA certified for the Scrapie Flock Certification Program.
One of the great joys and challenges associated with raising animals, particularly rare heritage breeds, is developing and adhering to sound breeding strategies that contribute to the conservation of the breed while enhancing its value. A responsible breeding program is more than simply turning a male in with females to produce the next generation.
OGF’s breeding goals are to:
As discussed on our Flock Ram page we are dedicated to maintaining three distinct bloodlines. To accomplish this we maintain an unusually high ratio of rams to ewes in our flock. Many of our rams are carefully selected, used for breeding one year and then sold as proven flock rams.
Another reason for maintaining a large number of flock rams is to enable us to use multiple rams, representing different bloodline every fall for breeding. This ensures that we have a wide selection of lambs the following spring to assemble genetically diverse starter flocks for our buyers.
Extensive use of our rams with superior fleeces continues to advance our goal of universal high quality fleeces across our entire flock. Please see our ram page for pictures and more information on our flock rams.
We are accepting orders for 2014 lambs. We require a $100 per sheep deposit with your order. Orders are filled in the same sequence as they are received. Please contact us for more information on availability.
We presently have an excellent selection of mature white and colored rams available for sale. Several of them sired by one of our Supreme Champion Fleece Rams.We are also growing out several 2013 ram lambs (both white and colored) for evaluation in the spring as yearlings to decide which are suitable as potential flock rams. This will give our 2014 customers a choice of lambs, yearlings, or mature rams for their starter flock.