Bluefaced Leicesters and Border Leicesters are two of the three modern Leicester breeds Leicester-breed sheep originated in the 1700s with Robert Bakewell’s research into improving strains of animals, developing what we now know as “breeds.” Prior to his pioneering work, many farmers bred animals according to personal lore or random chance. Bakewell’s improved Leicester was the progenitor of the Border Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester and Leicester Longwool.
The Border Leicester shares a strong roman nose and pert ears with its cousin breed, the Bluefaced Leicester. More compact and solid in build, the Border Leicester has a stronger meat production air about it. Unfortunately, because it doesn’t provide the same dramatic frame and lambing percentage improvements that the Bluefaced Leicester does, the Border Leicester has fallen out of favor as a crossing sire for creating ewes. Wool enthusiasts enjoy the glossy curls of a good Border Leicester fleece, however, and the breed grows economically in the pastures of the North. Border Leicesters are reliable, hardy, pleasant sheep with sweet personalities.
I appreciate that the Border Leicester is less exaggerated in character and has a less delicate appearance. Hardier, more versatile and able to produce more wool and heftier lambs, the Border Leicester is a fantastic homestead flock animal. While the wool is slightly coarser, it is also much more abundant and beautifully glossy. Border Leicester wool wants to be a sweater or other outerwear garment. I am very fortunate to have been able to purchase some of the best stock available from a shepherd who raised Borders for 40 years.
My Border Leicester flock comes from three sources. The first, and most important, is Sue Johnson of Hinesburg, Vermont, who sold me 13 beautiful prime-age ewes in 2017. She spent 40 years perfecting her Border Leicester stock and it really shows. Sue has been very generous with time and advice for caring for the sheep – I am eternally grateful that she has entrusted me with a significant proportion of her life’s sheep-work. I purchased four additional Registered Border Leicester ewes from Sharon and Bill O’Donnell in Ohio. We also purchased a very handsome ram from Polly Hopkins at Maybe Tomorrow Farm in 2017. He will be the sire of my 2019 Border Leicester lambs.
For everyone interested in breeding stock: We are building our flock for the next few years and will have very limited numbers of ewes available. We are most able to offer rams, non-registered ewes and BFL/Border crossbred ewes. If you are interested in breeding stock of any kind, get in touch using the form below and we will see what we can do for you. We have contacts who may have more BFL and Border Leicesters available and we are happy to make referrals.