Wensleydale Sheep Characteristics, Origin & Uses

The Wensleydale sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from United Kingdom. It was actually originated in the Wensleydale region of North Yorkshire, England.

It was developed in the 19th century by crossing English Leicester and Teeswater sheep. It is one of the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds.

Currently the breed is established throughout the United Kingdom and extends into mainland Europe. And also available in the United States.

But currently it is categorized as ‘at risk‘ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the United Kingdom, and there are fewer than 1500 registered breeding ewes. Read some more information about this breed below.

Wensleydale Sheep Characteristics

The Wensleydale sheep is a large breed of domesticated sheep. It is one of the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds. It has a blue-grey face, and has long, ringlet-like locks of wool.

It’s a large long wool breed with a distinctive grey black face, ears and legs. These animals have slightly elongated ears and stand upright.

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They are naturally polled and have a tuft of long wool on top of the head.

Average live body weight of the mature Wensleydale sheep vary from 115 to 136 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


Wensleydale sheep is raised for both meat and wool production. It is also used for crossing with other breeds.

Special Notes

The Wensleydale sheep is a fairly hardy and strong breed. The ewes are highly prolific with a very high lambing percentage.

The breed is raised for both meat and wool production. But it is also used for crossing with other breeds.

The Wensleydale sheep is noted for it’s excellent fleece quality. And the fleece is prized by hand spinners and the Black Wensleydale’s fleece is definitely a product that would benefit from direct marketing.

Along with producing very high quality fleece the breed is also very good for producing meat. However, review full breed profile of this breed in the following chart.

Breed NameWensleydale
Other NameNone
Breed PurposeMeat, wool
Special NotesVery hardy and strong, ewes are highly prolific with very high lambing percentage, excellent quality fleece, very good for meat production
Breed SizeLarge
WeightVary from 115 to 136 Kg
Climate ToleranceNative climates
ColorRegular with grey black face, ears and legs
Country/Place of OriginUnited Kingdom

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