In praise of the YCP program

by Lisa Rodenfels on June 21, 2019

By Margie Smith, PA 

What a wonderful program the Youth Conservation Program, held during the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival each year is!  It was an experience that I would recommend to fellow BFL breeders. I’d like to thank Elaine Ashcraft for directing such a wonderful program! This was my first year donating a registered BFL yearling and it was truly an honor to do. Elaine walked me through each step of the way with patience and lots of guidance. I enjoyed reading the entries from the youth who requested a yearling. The entry my husband and I chose was Tia Iversen from North Carolina. What a blessing she is to our breed! Tia took responsibility of our yearling, Marlindale Pippa, as soon as they were acquainted at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. By the time Pippa made it North Carolina, she and Tia had become buddies. As the weeks progressed, it turned out that Pippa had been bred. On June 19th, Pippa gave Tia her first lamb, a 10 lb ram lamb! Pippa trusted Tia so much that she let her handle and help clean the new lamb. What a wonderful time and experience. If any of you have a yearling you feel would benefit a youth, please help out by donating a ewe yearling. To see the joy this ewe has brought Tia and her family has made this all worth the efforts on everyone’s parts!

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Profitable BFLs

by Lisa Rodenfels on June 3, 2019

By BLU president Katie Sullivan, VT.  Originally published in The Shepherd Magazine.

It took a few years and some mistakes to come around to the Bluefaced Leicester.

I started out with five mutt sheep that cost $250 total. A combination of Montadale and Corriedale, they had nice wool from their Corriedale ancestry and great meat frame size from the Montadale side. But finding a matching ram? Impossible. I used several Cormo rams in pursuit of fine fleece, but struggled to maintain other traits. Soon, I had an unruly gang of sheep of all shapes and sizes and no way to effectively breed them into uniformity in a reasonable timeframe.

It was plainly time to find a consistent animal who would deliver delicious lamb and highly desirable wool. Being accustomed to selling Cormo, I wasn’t really keen to have to convince my customers that they were going to love something rough or primitive. Since every ewe can produce $100 or more of wool value, well marketed, it seemed a waste to consider hair breeds. On the other extreme, finewool breeds do not thrive in our damp climate and with land prices in our area being high, I knew I would need a breed that would produce twins and triplets reliably. I had noticed that many producers in our area did not consider carcass economics carefully, choosing breeds that finished at weights too light to be economical where slaughter costs more than $100 per animal.

The Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) checked boxes that other breeds didn’t. They are fairly large and finish at a larger size than many breeds favored by hobbyists. They provide tender meat and incredible length of loin, increasing the proportion of the most desirable cuts. BFL ewes can carry lambs from the largest terminal sires with ease. My BFL ewes are so milky that I am struggling to dry them off after four month’s lactation. Their lambs are enormous and well-conformed.

On the wool side, I’ve discovered that every beginning spinner is sent out seeking BFL fiber to spin. Yarn buyers and felters appreciate the tightly purled curl and silky sheen of BFL. The fiber blends well with precious fibers, offering shiny, drapey yarns that flatter the wearer.

Most importantly, BFLs were one of the last breeds imported to the US as live animals, meaning that BFLs in North America were not bred up from a parent breed. While genetics got a little tight in the ‘90’s, the importation of a dozen diverse, award-winning sires from the UK during the 2000’s has made the breed gene pool wide and healthy again. Almost every ewe in my flock has a champion UK ram in the third or fourth generation.

Other shepherds sometimes ding me by accusing the BFL of being too delicate. Mine have proven as hardy as any other sheep and have weathered Northern Vermont winters with ease. They want a little supplementation to stay in tip-top condition, sure, but when you compare their productivity with that of an unimproved breed, you quickly realise that a small grain bill isn’t a big price to pay for vigorous twins, valuable wool and long, large carcasses in the locker.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

May 12, 2019

Photo credit:  Meredith Myers-Null, BlueLand Farm, MD.

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LOVE AFFAIR WITH BLUEFACED LEICESTERS!

April 21, 2019

Originally published in The Shepherd magazine.  Written by Margie Smith, PA Have you ever seen a “glow” and thought it must be an angel? Have you ever seen that glow in a pasture? Well, one sunny day in 2007, while viewing Nancy Starkey’s flock of Border Leicesters, there amidst the 20 or more yearlings she […]

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2020 National Show venue sought

March 13, 2019

  The BLU board is accepting applications for show venues for the 2020 BFL National Show.   Please contact any board member to make suggestions for the venue.  There is an proposal form available which covers many of the questions, requirements, and considerations to be made when choosing a site for the show.   It should be […]

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Choosing the BFL for profit

March 4, 2019

This article was originally published in The Shepherd Magazine.  Written by Katie Sullivan, Vermont It took a few years and some mistakes to come around to the Bluefaced Leicester. I started out with five mutt sheep that cost $250 total. A combination of Montadale and Corriedale, they had nice wool from their Corriedale ancestry and […]

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Bluefaced Leicester: A Breed For All Markets

January 30, 2019

This article was originally published in The Shepherd Magazine.    Written by Carol Densmore,  Cross Wind Farm, Michigan. Learning to spin opened the door to the fiber arts world and led to the rediscovery of the hard work and farm life that I grew up in. As a hand spinner I knew I couldn’t live […]

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Summary of the January 17th BLU board meeting

January 23, 2019

The BLU board met by teleconference meeting on January 17th at 7PM EST. All board members were in attendance, as well the as Sect/Treas. Incoming President Katie Sullivan (VT) welcomed new board member Paul Genge (WA). During the meeting, the board voted to appoint Margie Smith (PA) to the board seat vacated when Katie took […]

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Year End Financial Statements

January 21, 2019

BLU is in a good financial position.   The board is pleased to be able to continue spending on advertising and promotion of the breed, as well as working to encourage youth participation in our organization. 2018DecBalSht 2018DecYTDP&L

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2019 Dues

December 6, 2018

It is time for 2019 dues to be paid.  Please complete a work order, make out the check to BLU, and mail it to ASR at the address posted on our website.  You can also print a copy of the work order there.   It’s important to pay your dues within the 60 day grace period […]

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