Interesting Facts about Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep
“The Wee Wonder!”
Shetland Sheep are a small, hardy breed originating in the Shetland Island in the northern part of Scotland.
Rams weigh 90-150 pounds. Ewes are smaller at 75-100 pounds.
Shetland Sheep on the islands enjoy a long cool winter with a short mild summer (temperatures are rarely above 77 degrees).
Island Shetlands graze on a flora which is dominated by Arctic-alpine plants, wild flowers, moss and lichens. There are grass meadows but trees are scarce. They thrive in most areas of the US.
Many Shetland ewes have twins, triplets and a few even have quads. They are easy lambers and make great mothers.
Shetland Sheep are great for young shepherds as they are easy to handle and many love attention. They are real “Tail Waggers!!” and love having their chins scratched.
Shetlands have 11 colors in black, brown and white with many different shades and have 30 different patterns and markings.
Shetlands eat only 1/3 to 1/2 as much hay as a commercial-sized wool/meat sheep. Shetland sheep provide healthy, grass-fed, mild tasting gourmet quality meat. These sheep can hold lamb-like quality until they are at least 3 years old.
Shetland Rams can be horned or polled (no horns). Ewes are generally hornless but can also have horns.
Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) insisted that his hosiery be made from fine Shetland wool.
Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) wore and commissioned fine hosiery and shawls made from Shetlands wool.
Lightweight warm Shetland jumpers (sweaters) were worn to the top of Mt. Everest by Hillary and Tensing in 1953.
Fair Isle sweaters were originally made from Shetland wool yarn and the technique originated on one of the Shetland Islands named Fair Isle.
Fine Shetland yarn is used to make the famous Shetland Islands Wedding Ring Shawls. This lace shawl is so delicate that one can draw it through a wedding ring.
Fine Fleece Shetland yarn is routinely used to make very soft and warm sweaters, socks, scarves, gloves and mittens.
Fine Fleece Shetland fleeces generally have a staple length of 2-6” (but should not exceed 7"), are dense, with crimp/wave. These fleeces can have a smooth silky or cottony feel and produce excellent yarn with lots of “life.”
The Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association (FFSSA) supports the 1927 Standard breed standard and Appendix A, which is validated by historical documentation of this heritage breed.
FFSSA members utilize micron testing to insure the finest quality of wool products.
FFSSA maintains a fleece performance registry of qualified Shetland sheep.
In the U.S., NASSA maintains a Shetland Sheep Registry. The Shetland Sheep Society and the Shetland Flock Book Society are found in the United Kingdom.