THE BLUEFACED LEICESTER
There are a small number of purebred Blue Faced Leicestes in North America. These sheep have been the backbone of the UK sheep industry for over 300 years.
According to the Canadian Sheep Breeder’s Association:
“The Bluefaced Leicester (or Hexham Leicester), an English Longwool type, was developed from Robert Bakewell’s Dishley Leicester. Foundation animals were selected for performance, dark blue facial skin and finer fleeces. In the UK, BFL rams are frequently bred to hill breed ewes to produce ‘mules’ which make up 46% of the UK commercial ewe population. Mules inherit prolificacy, milking ability, body length and fleece quality from the BFL, making it one of the finest commercial ewes available. When crossed with a terminal sire, mules produce fast growing, efficient lambs. In North America, the North Country Cheviot, Scottish Blackface, Clun Forest and Shetland are commonly crossed with the BFL to produce mules. The BFL fleece is popular with handspinners because of its fineness, lustre and length of staple.”
Handspinners, knitters, and weavers consider the Blue Faced Leicester to be one of the BEST wools to work with. They have a fine, soft, lusterous fleece that is also very durable. It can be an ideal substitute for merino for those seeking a soft, local yarn.