The Border Leicester is an old breed, dating back to 1767. It is one of three breeds of Leicester sheep, along with the English Leicester and the Hexham Leicester (or Blueface). Credit for development of the Border Leicester goes to George and Matthew Cully of Fenton, Northumberland. The breed is believed to have been developed by crossing Leicesters with Teeswater ewes. Some feel Cheviot blood was also incorporated in their development.
Although we “fell into” the breed, we also “fell for” the breed. The ewes are wonderful mothers with ample milk for their babies. On our farm the majority have twins, which do nicely.
The Border Leicester is a medium-sized sheep, noted for its docile temperament. This is evident in both the mature ewes and rams. We are often called upon to get a single animal or a small flock together for 4-H judging or display purposes because they are so easily handled.
The fleece of the Border Leicester is of high quality, and was used in the carpet industry in the 1940′s and 50′s. The fleece is now used by handspinners. The breed is easy to sheer, as the animals do not have fleece on their heads or legs.
The Border Leicester is an excellent choice for hobby farms or full-fledged sheep producers. They do well on good quality hay and ample pasture. We like to feed grain pre- and post-partum to our ewes. The lambs are creep-fed until the pasture is ready for mothers and babies.
The Border Leicester is a good breed to incorporate into a flock for cross-breeding purposes. The cross produces ewes with good mothering abilities.