Breeding Stock

Shetlands are small, primitive sheep from northern Scotland, descended from stock brought to the Shetland Islands by the Vikings in the 8th century. Although pure Shetland sheep had nearly disappeared by the 1970s, concerted efforts since then have succeeded in increasing their numbers. Shetlands are off the endangered list and are now on the watch list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Horns in ewes are a primitive trait

Shetlands are traditionally hardy sheep, with sound temperaments and solid constitutions, noted for their fine, lustrous fleeces in black, white, and rare natural browns.

We started our Shetland flock in 1995 with breeding stock from Maple Ridge Farm, who imported the first Shetlands into the U.S. in 1986. Over the past 15 years we’ve managed our flock for conformation to traditional Shetland standards. We are a member of the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Color linesWe maintain all three Shetland color lines--black, white, and the very rare moorit. Color nomenclature among Shetland sheepbreeders retains a number of Norse words. Moorit is a dark reddish-brown, and the genetic lines associated with this fleece color produce shades of brown ranging from very dark through reddish gold and fawn. Because moorit is genetically recessive to both black and white, it tends to disappear from a flock without attentive breeding. Shetland whiteBlack genetics produce a range of blue-grays as well as a deep black; Shetland white is a warm, pearly color. All of the color lines produce wool that is fine and lustrous, and far softer in handle than other finewool breeds. We shear twice a year and get a 2-4 lb, 4-6 inch clip per head.

Shetland sheep are best known for their gorgeous fleeces but Shetlands also produce delectable meat. Our market lambs reach 50-60 lbs in 9-10 months and produce 20-24 lbs meat per lamb.

Shetland lambs

Shetlands are a joy to manage. Their primitive genetics makes them smart and lively as well as hardy. They spread out across the pasture when they graze, but come right back to the barn if the dogs signal danger. They have distinctive personalities, and charmingly wag their tails when you scratch their chins. Lambing time is a pleasure with Shetlands, who are uniformly dependable for easy lambing and excellent mothering.

We keep a flock of 15-20 ewes and yearlings in all three color lines and produce 20-30 lambs every spring. Prices for breedstock are from $250 per head, with discounts for multiple purchases. Please contact us for more information.

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Littledove Farm Fisherville KY