News

Summary of 2-5-20 Board Meeting

The BLU board met by teleconference meeting on February 5th at 8PM EST. All board members were in attendance but Karen Szewc, who was moving her farm. The new youth board advisor, Kieran Van Horsen, was absent due to a midterm test.

The minutes of the previous meeting in August were approved. The current balance in the treasury is $8768.13, and $78.05 in the Paypal account. Each board member was also provided with a copy of the income and expense detail for yearend 2019. 11 new member packets were sent out during 2019. There are 75 members, of which 7 are Canadian. There were 417 new registrations(up from 332 in 2018) and 155 transfers processed by the breed registry, administered by Associated Sheep Registries in Wamego, KS. A postcard reminder for 2020 dues is ready to be mailed. It includes information about the national show and the new youth programs.

The committee chairs have been busy working on new projects for the association. The bylaws & standards committee had finalized the proposal for describing and adding “silver” BFLs that are currently registered as “black patterned” , giving them their own code on the pedigree so that interested breeders can track this color pattern. After some modification, the board voted to accept Bsi as the new color designation. The committee will work on an educational sheet with photos that will be provided to members so that they understand this new color designation and how to identify it. New registration forms will need to be made and distributed by the registry. Lisa will contact them to make those changes to the forms and also the rules for registration form.

The media committee announced that the redesigned website is completed. They will continue to make improvements as time permits. The next project is to update the woefully outdated promotional brochures. These need to be ready for the national show, and if possible for 2 summer Canadian sales events. The board approved a budget of $100 to pay a designer to rework the brochures.

The youth committee reported that they had contacted all our current youth with information about the new Youth Purchase Voucher program, and has distributed that information to some 4-H advisors. They asked the board’s help in spreading the word. There will be a listing in the Banner Magazine with contact info.

The genetics taskforce reported that there is a group of BFL breeders working together to collect semen from several rams in the UK. It is hoped that the rams will go into collection this year. 2 of the breeders are going to the UK in June to look at rams and talk with breeders there who are willing to provide rams for collection.

The national show committee provided an outline of show plans and went over it with the board. As information is received, it will be posted to the website. There will be both white and natural colored sheep classes, a fleece show, and skein class. A dinner is being planned for Saturday evening, with a speaker and a silent auction to benefit the youth programs.

In old business, the YCP program is looking for a yearling ewe to be awarded at the MS&W festival in May. Nancy Starkey has expressed an interest. Margie Smith is a backup for her. This will be the first year that BLU has provided a particl reimbursement for the ewe of $250.

The next meeting will be set at a later date.

Export to Canada : Explained (from a U.S. perspective)


By Margaret Van Camp, Pitchfork Ranch, Swartz Creek, MI (mavaca@usol.com, 810-814-3408)
Of late, our breed has been catching the eyes and the interest of our good neighbors to the north. BLU currently has five Canadian flocks as members, and doubtless there are more flocks that have BLU-registered sheep in them that are not (yet!) members. With inquires about exporting BFLs to the Great White North on the rise, I have been asked to help demystify this rather intimidating process.
Our farm here in Michigan has been export certified by the USDA since 2017. Our proximity to Canada was the main driving force behind this decision, and it was not made lightly. For certain, export certification is not for everyone. The additional record keeping, replacement of ear tags (BFLs wiggle out of them at an alarming rate) and of course the unpleasant task of removing and submitting heads of dead ewes are daunting, not to mention the annual inspection. It took us five years in the export monitored category before we were able to export our first ewe across the border. However, the payoff is that we have added an entire country to our potential market, and the border is only ninety minutes away.
We have exported both rams and ewes every year since certification, and are fielding Canadian inquiries at an increasing rate. As a result, I feel comfortable in explaining what the process looks like, typical costs and what needs to happen on both sides of the border to make the export / import happen.
First, we need to make a distinction between the requirements for rams versus ewes. Fortunately for Canadian breeders, the import of rams from the U.S. is much less restrictive in terms of the flock of origin. Due to the fact that scrapie is passed in birth fluids and milk, rams are not identified as vectors for the disease by the USDA. So the origin flock in the U.S, does not have to be in the export certified program. However, they must have a premise number registered with the USDA, and the ram must have permanently affixed a USDA approved scrapie ID tag with that premise number for traceability purposes. He must also have “USA” tattooed in his right ear (don’t worry if the green ink does not show up on the black skin of the ear—they will use a black light to read it). RFID chips can also be used as permanent ID, but the chip would have to be compatible with the chip reader at border station where you intend to cross.
The ram must be genotype tested by a USDA-approved lab. Allowable results are: codon 136AA 171RR or 136AA 171QR. We use Genecheck in Greeley, Colorado. They have a nifty ear-sampling system that lets you avoid collecting blood or having to ship a high-rate refrigerated overnight package. It takes a sample of tissue from the ear, leaving a tiny hole. A normal padded envelope will hold dozens of them. Each sample cup is $3-$4, and the test itself is $11 per head. The applicator needed to take the sample is around $30, a one-time expense. Here is the link to Genecheck : http://www.genecheck.com/ The turnaround time with this company is quite short – usually within 2-3 days of receiving the samples. The test results have to be submitted with the importer’s application for an import permit from the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the equivalent of the USDA). If the ram in question tests QQ at 171, or is untested, he can still be imported but the Canadian breeder must have been enrolled in the Canadian scrapie eradication program for at least a year and had at least one inspection. There lots of other restrictions on the Canadian side involved with a QQ / untested ram, so it’s much easier just to test and select a ram with the correct genotype. We routinely test all the ram lambs we intend to sell, so we do not charge the buyer for this testing. If you want to read rules yourself, here is a link to the latest CFIA requirements for import of small ruminants (sheep and goats) from the U.S. into Canada: https://www.inspection.gc.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/imports/import-policies/live-animals/2007-5/eng/1321032703935/1321032839418
Speaking of that permit: this is the first official paperwork that has to be completed to get the export/ import ball rolling. It must be applied for at the CFIA by the importing (Canadian) breeder. At last check, the cost was $35 CDN. The US breeder will need to supply the following information for each sheep to be imported to the Canadian breeder for the application: birth date, breed , color, gender, farm tag number, Scrapie number, and a copy of the genotype report. More than one sheep can be listed on the permit. The permit can take up to a month to be issued, but two weeks is typical. Take it from me: do not depend on federal or provincial offices to work speedily just because you need them to. If you have a hard deadline, begin the process at least 3 months ahead. The permits are good for ninety days. Here is the link for the CFIA: https://www.inspection.gc.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/imports/permit-application/eng/1374511671189/1374511696513
Once you have the ram tagged, tattooed, and tested, and the Canadian breeder has received the permit and sent you a copy, you can now make an appointment with your vet to issue the international health certificate. The vet can inspect the animal(s) before having the permit number, but they can’t issue the certificate without it. Vet charges vary, of course, but most charge more for international versus interstate certificates because the form is longer. For us, this is a pass-through expense for the importer. On our last export, this cost was $90 ($65 for the farm call, $25 for the papers – for one ram. Added animals would have been $10 each.)
With the CFIA permit, ram genotype results and international health papers in hand, you can now make an endorsement appointment at your local USDA office. The USDA has to look over all the paperwork and mark it as approved before the animal can enter Canada. Yes, this can be accomplished by mail. However, my experience strongly suggests that appointments are handled in a much more timely manner than mail-in requests. And you have a pre-determined date when you know the paperwork will be completed, because, barring any missing info, you will walk out of the office with all the paperwork needed to get the boy across the border. The fee for this service recently (October of 2019) jumped from $52 to around $120, with no difference in service (or explanation) provided. I don’t blame the people who work in the office … they are not told anything, either. At any rate, this expense also passed on to the buyer. Here is a link to USDA office locations: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/service-centers-endorsement-offices
Alrighty, if you are still with me, the next step is to set up the actual exchange of the animal. First, collect all the documents that must accompany the animal across the border:
CFIA permit (with USDA endorsement)
international health certificate (with USDA endorsement)
a copy of the ram genotype results
bill of sale
Optional: signed-off registration (if balance is paid)
double check to make sure all ear tag numbers in the documents match the actual tags
If you have neglected to tattoo “USA” in the right ear, now is your last chance
There are several options here, but the buyer coming to the farm of origin to see the setup there is the best way. One could also offer to meet the buyer on the U.S. side of the border and transfer the animal(s) there. Some buyers opt to hire a professional transporter. I do not suggest driving the animal across the border for the buyer to pick up on the Canadian side. There is a lot more hassle for a U.S. citizen trying to get an animal into Canada than there is for a Canadian, even if all the paperwork is in order. Whichever party is taking the animal across the border needs to set up an appointment with the vet at the border crossing they intend to use. The phone number of the Canadian customs office at the crossing point can be found by Googling it. There is no fee for customs or the vet inspection at the border. The vet will check the animals for obvious signs of illness and make sure all the tag numbers and descriptions match the paper work. When entering the border crossing, the transporter should go to the animal inspection area first rather than just lining up to cross, as the customs agents will simply send them there anyway. When making the appointment with the vet for the inspection, it’s a good idea to ask him or her about the best way to go about it.
Additionally, there may be a requirement to check if taxes are owed on the purchase of the animals. My experience has been that this is simply a paperwork formality and that taxes are not collected. I admit I am not as familiar with this aspect of the crossing, but anyone who has brought a purchased animal back across the border can shed more light on this. I can provide references in this respect.
As far as payment goes, we usually ask for a good faith deposit of at least 20% of the purchase price to hold the animal and commit to the export protocol. We always ask that the buyer pay the balance in U.S. dollars cash or money order, in advance.
And viola! You are done! Au revoir, mon ami ram! Easy peasy, right?
OK, so, maybe not. But it is certainly doable; you don’t need superpowers or friends in high places, and if you live within an easy drive of the border, it could open up a new market for your ram genetics.
And what about the ewes? Well, there is good news and bad news about the ewes. The good news? No genotype testing is required export from the U.S. to Canada. Other than that, the procedure for ewes is exactly the same as described above. The bad news? Female small ruminants can be imported only from flocks enrolled in the USDA’s Scrapie Flock Certification Program that are determined to be “negligible risk premises” – which is defined as Export Certified. If the previous information has not scared you off, here is a link to a document describing what it takes to become an Export Certified flock: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/scrapie/downloads/standards_current.pdf
Clearly, exporting sheep to Canada is not for everyone, just as importing them from the U.S. does not make sense for every Canadian flock. But the demand is there and growing, and if you want to possibly provide cornerstone ram(s) for motivated BFL breeder(s) in Canada, this is your chance.
I am hoping that a Canadian breeder who has experience importing from the U.S. will provide a similar guide from the Canadian perspective. I am reasonably sure that information provided here is correct – at least this is what I will be operating on for 2020 until I discover differently. If you have questions, you can contact me via email (mavaca@usol.com) or cell (810-814-3408).

Find a Farm

It’s been a long time coming, but we now have a farm search function on bflsheep.com!


Visitors to bflsheep.com can now go to the (hopefully self-explanatory) Find a Farm tab and search for what they are looking for, be it breedstock, wool, a local farm, yarn, etc.


BLU members who wish to offer sheep, products or services should sign up for an account, log in, and begin adding relevant information to their listings. Be sure to specifically list what you are offering – if you don’t add the keyword in your listing, the search bar cannot find you! Suggested keywords might be: breedingstock, rams, ewes, raw wool, yarn, or any other word commonly used to describe your products. Links to your website are beneficial for search engine optimization, so be sure to link your site to bflsheep.com while you’re thinking of website matters.

Announcing the New Youth Voucher Award Program

BLU has a new program, available to all youth across the country. Applicants will be screened and the winner will receive a voucher for $250, which they can use to offset the cost of a registered BFL of their choosing. All the seller need do is present the voucher to BLU, and will be reimbursed. Attached are the rules to be downloaded, the application completed, and sent to the BLU secretary. Deadline to apply is May 1, 2020

Please help get this information out to 4-H, FFA, and other organizations where young shepherds will get the news. Do you have a state sheep organization? Send it to them. Post this on your own FB page. Post it on your website. Contact your local Extension 4-H advisor and ask them to pass it along to other 4-h offices. Not only will it benefit the young person who is awarded the voucher, but it will also help YOU by a potential sale of breeding stock. Please keep in mind, if you are approached by a young person later this year who wishes to use the voucher to offset the cost of the sheep they are purchasing, all you have to do is present the voucher to BLU and you will be reimbursed. So download this form and help spread the word!

New youth board advisor

In 2019, the board decided to add an advisory position from our youth membership. A letter went out to all our current youth members, and from that request, one of our youth stepped up to fill that position. Please welcome Kieran Van Horsen from Oregon to this new position! Kieran will attend board meetings, sits on the Youth Committee, and represents our youth at other events as well.

Hello, my name is Kieran Van Horsen and I am 19 years old as of this October.  I believe that I will bring a unique perspective to the title and do my best to fulfill my duties.

I have owned BFL’s since 2013 and have loved every second of it. I exhibit them every year at the Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon, as well as at the Oregon State Fair and many other fiber-centric festivals with the intent of promotion and education of the breed. I fully believe in the youth programs associated with the breed as I have been an active youth participant/breeder since I bought my first ram lamb from Liongate Farm in 2014. I am currently a student in the Welding program at a local college, and I am active in the agricultural community by working at my families sheep ranch as well as working for a local seed farmer and renting my BFL sheep out for pasture control to neighbors and grass seed farmers. I am also doing LAI and am wanting to import BFL Semen as my program continues to grow.  I acquired some more straws and fully intend on doing LAI with 3 “new-to-me” rams this coming year.

I would love to be a part of the board in order to share ideas I have for promoting this all-purpose breed and bringing more breeders together as we already have so many awesome people who are a part of BLU.

2020 Election Results

The BLU board election is completed. Vice President Meredith Myers-Null was re-elected to her second term. Elected to their first terms on the board are Margie Smith of Pennsylvania, and Karen Szewc of Oregon. Please join me in congratulating them. A heartfelt thank you to outgoing board member Shellie Ross (FL).The first board meeting of 2020 is scheduled for early January. Please contact any board member if you have an item for the agenda.  

Supreme Champion Overall

August 31, 2019 was a great day.  The 197th Great Geauga County Fair, Ohio’s oldest county fair, has an annual attendance of over a quarter million people.  It was a great day also, for Shepherd’s Run (William and Sharon O’Donnell).  Dexter, our natural colored ram lamb was Champion ram in the Natural Colored Class, then returned to the ring for the Supreme Champion class.  Matt Martin was the judge who pinned Dexter as the Supreme Champion Ram noting his excellent fleece.  

2019 Board Candidate Statements

FOR VICE-PRESIDENT

Merdith Myers Null – Maryland.

I am excited for the opportunity to serve on the BLU Board of Directors again this term. I have significant experience that should serve me well in this role. I served this past term as Vice President and enjoyed it tremendously!

In the past, I served on the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association (MSBA) Board of Directors. MSBA puts on the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, the annual Maryland Wool Pool, and sponsors several other educational and promotional activities through the year.

I have been in love with and owned Bluefaced Leicesters for 12 years. Over those past 12 years first my mom, Connie, and I and since her passing,  now my husband, Dan, and I have been building a flock that has quality fleeces on sound, fast growing frames. We are very proud to be a part of this breed. BFLs have such a unique position in our current market that places emphasis on quality and sustainable production. I am very interested in helping BFLs expand their genetic impact in North America and plan to continue that role on the BFL board in my next term, and I am looking forward to representing the breed through our organization.

FOR BOARD OF DIRECTOR (vote for no more than 2)

Brian Guilmain – Iowa

Hello, my name is Brian Guilmain, I am 47 years old and I live in northeast Iowa near a town called Edgewood. My partner and I live on a farm where we raise Red Angus cattle, Bluefaced Leicester, Scottish Blackface, and Tunis sheep. I have been living in the Midwest for the past 6 years. Besides farming I also work in a Lab testing DDG products for livestock feeds and ethanol production. I am originally from New York state where I was born and lived on a dairy farm.

My first exposer to sheep was when I was a teenager and my mother decided she wanted to get involved in sheep farming. My mother decided on the Romneys as a breed that would work the best for our farm at that time. As a teenage boy I found myself enjoying the work with the dairy cattle more and really didn’t care for her sheep. However, my mother couldn’t handle the chores with her new sheep adventure on her own. So, she ended up “roping” me into helping with the care of her animals. It was when her ewes lambed that first year and I was helping her, that I became interested in working with sheep. Some of the best times I ever had with my mother was out in the lambing shed working together caring for the lambs.

When I was in college my uncle gave me some ewes (commercial which I kept at a friend’s farm) then I acquired my first purebred ewe a Horn Dorset which lead to my interest in English Breeds. When I left college and started my dairy farm – I decided at that time I wanted to get into more purebred type sheep. I decided on the Scottish Blackface for their hardiness and good mothering abilities and the black and white face markings matched my Holstein dairy cattle. I kept that flock up until I sold my dairy and moved off the farm. (2011)

In 2013 I moved to Iowa and met my partner. Now that I was back on a farm, I wanted to work with sheep again. I decided it would be rewarding to work with an American breed so, I chose Tunis (because their red heads matched our Red Angus cattle). In 2016 a friend of mine purchased some natural colored BFLs. After a few months, he decided sheep was not his thing. So, he asked if I would be interested in his animals consisting of 3 head. When I went to look at them, I fell in love with those upright rabbit ears and big eyes – I brought them home. It was through those 3 animals that the passion for the breed began. I loved how they were always interested in what I was doing in the barn or out in the yard (they were always in my way). I loved shearing them. The shearing head moved through that soft wool like a hot knife going through butter. That first year I bred them to my Tunis ram. When they had their lambs – I was really impressed with their mothering abilities, and the amount of milk they made. One of the ewes had triplets, and she raised them on her own. The BFL cross lambs grew well on pasture. That led me to wanting to be more involved with breeding purebreds so, I started looking for a ram. Through the BLU member directory, I contacted Laura and Steve Demoth in the fall of 2018 and the only BFL breeder here in Iowa at that time. I purchsed a ram lamb and 5 ewe lambs for my start into purebreds. I have purcased additional animals from them over the last couple of years as well. This year a purchased 2 rams from Randy and Rainey Pritchard of Colorado. Today, I have around 50 animals. I have scaled my Tunis flock from 150 head to 10 this summer to make more time and room to focus on breeding the BFLs. Years ago, an older dairy farmer told me “you pick a breed of livestock that works the best for you and your farm”. The Bluefaced Leicesters just worked better on this farm. We have a hill farm where areas are hard and rocky and wet during fall and early spring. I have no feet problems with BFLs where with my Tunis I would from time to time. The Blues were also more willing to climb the steep hills to graze. Also, I found the Blues seem to milk better than the Tunis did, on grass hay. But most important, this is a breed of sheep that is just easy and fun to work with. I can see myself keeping them around until I am a very old man.

My goals for the future are – to breed and develop an outstanding flock of BFLs. The reason I am interested in running for the board is simply put – to get more involved, to help and support with the promotion of the breed.

Margie Smith – Pennsylvania

My name is Margie Smith and I am running for the BLU Board. I have currently served one year on the BLU board.

I’ve been farming as an adult since 1980 in Frederick County Maryland as a dairy farmer. Over the years we’ve had dairy cattle, beef cattle, hogs, milking goats and sheep. My main interest now is with fleece sheep and singularly with Bluefaced Leicesters. I’ve used my knowledge of genetics to produce a physically sound, well -fleeced BFL.

I have brought those skills, especially with producing quality fleeces to the BLU. Actually, some of what I’ve learned has been used to develop Face Book “how to’s” for using sheep sheets. We’re also creating a video on skirting a fleece for show and sale.

Thank you for considering me for a 2nd time!

Karen Szewc – Oregon

I own and operate Liongate Farm located in Southern Oregon with my husband Jon Updegraff. I am a shepherdess, fiberpreneur and maker of fiber crafts (as well as head barn cleaner) and would like to be considered for a board position with BLU. I have an “official” degree in Fashion Merchandising and Design and we both work FT outside of the Farm. I own an Etsy shop (Liongate.etsy.com) that features my fiber products and art and participate in 3 fiber shows and 4 craft shows throughout the year.
It all started with a quest for curly wool Santa beards. Wandering the aisles at the Black Sheep Gathering..Touching, feeling, talking about what would be the right breed to add to my small flock of Navajo Churro Sheep. Then I met the Blues. Perfect curls, perfect size, perfect personalities. Love!!!!
Our farm has been in operation since 1997, and I obtained my first blues in 2010 and it was instant joy. Since then I have almost finished converting my entire small flock (15 ewes and 3 rams) to a nicely diversified genetic pool of Bluefaced Leicester’s. Our mission is to produce exemplary quality fiber, wool products and crafts and outstanding healthy breeding stock as well as a marketable meat lamb using a terminal sire. Exciting changes are coming to Liongate Farm as we are currently on the search for a larger ranch property to grow our sheep business and other endeavors (we want to be a farm wedding venue and expand the fiber studio and store and be able to hose Fiber camps and more classes)

We also employ livestock guardian dogs to protect our sheep and are involved in promoting this passive form of predator deterrent. Our farm forest interface is negligible and we border a main water source which results in a large predator problem (cougar, bear, coyote, fox). Having the working dogs reduces our probability of predator kills.
We host Fiber on the Farm each August at the farm, promoting local fiber farm and providing an educational opportunity for the public to experience the farm, meet the animals and learn the processes of fiber production. I also have a large knowledge in ovine health based on experience love to assist others in this category.
I was a board member from 2015-2018 and want to continue serving the breed. I served as hostess of the BFL National Show at Black Sheep Gathering in 2018 and we had a fabulous showing of BFLs. My goal continues to be to educate the public and put the BFL breed prominently on the map on the west coast. We continue to maintain our own class at BSG and with the new breeders that have been started and flocks that are growing this should be a solid class for the breed at the BSG in the future. Most importantly I am trying to develop an interest in the breed in young shepherds. So far I have four young shepherd flocks started (under age 20). It is very exciting.
Thank you for your consideration!

Three Bags Full…of Long Leicester Wool. English-Border-Bluefaced Leicester

Written by Carol Densmore

Instead of researching genealogy and family stories, I tend to apply the same focus on sheep. Especially the breeds I raise—Bluefaced Leicester being one of them. Having one of the Leicester breeds, I was naturally drawn to the other breeds that sport the Leicester name—English Leicester and Border Leicester. Not enough to put them in my pastures, but enough to investigate what lineage and commonalities they share beside the name; and to dispel the belief that the Bluefaced Leicester is not a longwool.

As with many improved breeds, especially in the U.K., the history often leads back to Robert Bakewell. Turns out over 200 years ago Bakewell was responsible for developing a distinct, improved breed known as Dishley Leicester. From the Dishley Leicester, and the breeding methods used to get there, came a number of breeds including the long wool group of today’s English Leicester, Border Leicester, and Bluefaced Leicester. The ancestral lineage is pretty clear.

I’m not sure if Bakewell focused mainly on long wools, but that’s what he got with this group—a distinct range of wool on the long wool spectrum. Typically when we think of long wool breeds we think of a stronger, heavier fleece. One that stands up to outer wear, rugs, and even upholstery with a micron count higher than 35, or so. And that’s what you get with English Leicester wool…length, luster, and strength. It’s right up there with the Lincoln and Cotswold. Beautiful stuff! Then around 1850 the Border Leicester was established as a breed after many years of breed improvement. The Border Leicester is a product of a Dishley Leicester and Cheviot (and/or Teeswater) cross. And even though the cross created a sheep that is smaller than its Leicester ancestor and wool that is not as course, it’s still carries all the traits of a long wool breed…length, luster, and strength. And it stays in that category for sheep and wool shows. Then around 1920 the Bluefaced Leicester started to appear on the landscape with its tiny purled locks and not-so-voluminous fleece. In fact, one doesn’t think of heavy duty uses for BFL but instead for items worn next to the skin. So how could it be in the same category of a stronger, courser long wool breed? There are a couple of reasons.

First, the ancestral lineage shows a clear path back to the Dishley Leicester. And as the breeding improved, the BFL wool retained the Leicester luster and strength. The fleece length and volume changed but not into a totally different structure like the dense, squared-off lock of medium and fine wool breeds. Unlike medium breed wool that was a result of crossing a fine and long wool breeds, BFL wool held the classic longwool structure—individual locks that grow and hang parallel to the body—due to continuous improved breeding of the Dishley Leicester as opposed to crossbreeding.

Second, a distinct characteristic of a long wool breed is that its long locks easily part so that you can see the sheep’s skin. And the long locks are easily separated from each other. Even though BFL wool is finer than the English Leicester or Border Leicester, it still has those same characteristics. The difference in the micron count or the size of the lock doesn’t determine whether it’s longwool or, say, medium wool. The ancestral lineage of the sheep plus the wool characteristics it retains solidifies its place as a longwool breed.

Some books, judges, and breeders want to categorize BFL in the medium-wool category. I can see why. It’s finer in microns than the typical longwool, but not like a fine wool breed; a whole BFL fleece doesn’t have the volume of its distant Leicester cousins; and the purly lock structure is much thinner than the wider, wavier lock of a longwool sheep. That doesn’t place it into a medium wool category; it places it on the other end of the long wool spectrum…the finer end. That’s the beauty of this Leicester group, the options we have when it comes to the size of sheep and the variety of wool.

Whether it’s English, Border, or Bluefaced, the Leicester group keeps its place in the long wool pipeline as it has for centuries. Even with crossbreeding and improved breeding, the Leicester’s have stayed inside the realm of what constitutes long wool giving us three bags full of long Leicester wool.

Sources:

Sheep and Man, M. L. Ryder. Duckworth & Co (January 25, 2007)

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson. Storey Publishing, LLC (June 1, 2011)

Bluefaced Leicester Breeders Association, http://www.blueleicester.co.uk/

Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America, http://bflsheep.com/

Leicester Wool Sheep Breeders Association, http://www.leicesterlongwool.org/

American Border Leicester Association, http://www.ablasheep.org/