|Rachel with Antonia and her lambs|
One of the world's most beautiful and rare sheep comes from the hills of the Cotswolds in England less than 20 miles from the Welsh border. They are thought to be descended from a long wool introduced by the Romans in the first century A.D. This prototype sheep gave birth to the Cotswold, Lincoln and Leicester. The Cotswold was well established by the 15th Century and the wealth obtained from these "gentle giants" paid for many of the great Cathedrals and churches in England, most notable Gloucester Cathedral, which has the largest stained glass window in all of Britain. Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer still sits on a sack of Cotswold wool in the House of Commons, as a symbol of Britain’s secure wealth. The word Cotswold stems from the wolds (hills) and cotes (enclosures) which housed the sheep in bad weather, hence the wolds of the sheep cotes. Cotswolds played a great part in early American farming history even though today they are rare.
The Cotswold is a large, polled breed, with ewes weighing up to 200 pounds and rams 300 pound. The ewes are excellent mothers, with few birthing problems and quick to accept lambs. Their milk has %14 butterfat. The meat has a very mild flavor and aroma. It has been proven that long wool sheep have a less mutton flavor than fine wool breeds. Cotswolds are easy to raise and do well on coarser feeds, are excellent foragers, and can thrive in harsh climates, even with a lot of rainfall. In 20 years of breeding this hardy, wonderful breed we have had very few vet bills.
|Annie feeding new moms & lambs|
They are a very friendly sheep and there is definitely a queenly quality about the ewes. The rams are known to be very gentle and much less aggressive than rams of other breeds.
The earliest Cotswolds were white but black Cotswolds were recorded in Kentucky in 1858. They are even rarer than the whites, and it is not known if the incidence of color is due to recessive genes or some fence jumper from long ago! They should have the same characteristics as the whites.
There is a revived interest in Cotswolds due to the desire of sheep growers to improve wool quality and produce lean, heavyweight lambs on less feed. The Cotswold can yield 10-12 pounds of wool per shearing with the fiber up to 12" long. It is highly lustrous fleece with a micron count in the 40s and is sometimes called “poorman's mohair”.In spite of the heavy grease (lanolin), the fleece washes easily with liquid detergents and hot water and dries rapidly after a spin dry in the washer.
Over the years, while keeping a few whites, we have specialized in the natural colored sheep. We love our "gentle giants".
|Annie with lamb|
|Newly shorwn fleece|