Breed Standard

The Wensleydale is one of the largest breeds of sheep in the UK with mature rams typically weighing around 150kg and mature ewes around 100kg depending on condition. A well-conformed sheep will have a powerful frame with a straight back from shoulder to hindquarters without undue hollowing or sloping off. Front legs should be straight with good width in the brisket, and hind legs set parallel and well-spaced with no turning in of hocks. Hind legs should be well up on strong pasterns. Rams should have two even sized testicles, while ewes should be sound in the udder with two functioning quarters

The head should rise up elegantly from the shoulder being largely free of hair, broad in the muzzle, especially in rams, and have good sized ears angled slightly upwards. Traditionally, a long forelock of wool would be retained after clipping. Front teeth should align with the edge of the upper dental pad, although slightly undershot is acceptable as teeth tend to come forward with age. White Wensleydales characteristically have blue skin on head, ears and legs, often extending along the backline. Black Wensleydales have black skin

Although rams are useful as crossing sires, the Wensleydale is predominantly a wool breed with one of the highest quality fleeces of all sheep breeds. The wool is kemp-free and high lustre of good length – between 15 to 30 centimetres staple length in a yearling sheep before first shearing where the fleece may reach almost to the ground. Staples should be of medium breadth, each purled or curled from the body to the end, and even all around the body. Fleeces should be open and free of cotting, and cover most of the body including belly, head and legs. White fleeces may have occasional very small black spots which are technically a fault but may be inconsequential to the value of the fleece except when larger and significantly sited in the higher quality areas of the fleece. Black fleeces vary from pure black through black with brown highlights to silver-grey

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