are a minor, British breed belonging to the northern European
short-tailed group. It is believed they are of Scandinavian
origin and that Vikings may have brought them to the Shetland Islands
of Scotland over 1000 years ago. For years the sheep evolved in
relative isolation in the harsh habitat of these Islands.
Shetland sheep have a rich history of natural and/or human
selection (more information can be found by reading 'The Sheep of
Shetland A Historical Perspective found at http:www.shetland-sheep.org.
day Shetlands still retain many of their primitive or 'unimproved'
characteristics--small, hardy, agile, long-lived, easy lambing with
strong maternal instincts. Ewes usually are hornless, and the
rams generally have beautiful spiral horns. Their tails are short
and fluke shaped and do not require docking. Shetlands tend to be
late fall breeders. First time lambers usually produce a single
lamb, but twins are common among older ewes. Their beautiful fine wool
in a rainbow of natural colors made the Shetland woolen industry
In 1927 the Shetland Flock Book Society of
Shetland was formed to protect the purebred Shetland sheep from the
influence of crossbreeding, and the Society developed a breed standard
for registration. This same standard was later adopted by the
Shetland Sheep Breeders Group in Great Britain and again by the North
American Shetland Sheepbreeders' Association.
moorit-colored ewes and one ram were imported into Canada in 1948 (the
Flett importation). The main import of Shetlands into North
America occurred in 1980 when a small flock of 28 ewes and 4 rams was
imported from the Shetland Islands to Canada (the Dailley importation).
These sheep were required to spend their life quarantined on the
Dailley farm. In 1986, offspring could be sold after a five-year
quarantine period; and Shetlands began to make their way into the
purchased our first breeding trio (descendents of the Dailley 1980
importation) in 1990 when they were still quite rare and hard to find.
The following year we bought an additional ram and ewe.
Over the years we added some new blood lines, bringing in
Shetlands from flocks in Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, Oklahoma, etc.
The flock size eventually grew to about 55 Shetlands.
1997 the USDA granted a permit for the importation of semen from
Britain. We took advantage of the wonderful opportunity to
broaden the genetic base and improve our wool quality by purchasing
straws of semen from eleven different high-quality rams from Britain.
has marched on, and we have retired from sheep breeding. The 40+
sheep remain here on our farm as my personal flock and wool producers.
Sheep raising has given me many great memories and friendships.
I thank all my sheep, past and present, for sharing their lives
with me. I wouldn't trade it for anything.