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Interesting Facts
about 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  • Fair Isle sweaters were originally made from Shetland wool yarn and the technique originated on one of the Shetland Islands named Fair Isle.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.

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