Dalesbred Sheep

Picture: Dalesbred sheep Breeders Association - http://www.dalesbredsheep.co.uk

What is the history of Dalesbred Sheep?

The Dalesbred is a breed of domestic sheep originating in England. Derived from the Swaledale and Scottish Blackface breeds, the Dalesbred is a northern hill breed distributed in the Yorkshire Dales and into Lancashire. Dales breed well suited to both hill and lowland farms, able to cope with harsh environments and good pasture grazing capable of producing a quality carcass pure or crossbred lambs as well as providing reliable pure bred replacement. 

Dalesbred ewes are often crossed with Teeswater rams to produce the Masham, which is one of the most famous of British cross-breds.  Crosses such as that of the Dalesmule, Masham and continentals can play a key part in the sheep up and down the UK. Dalesbred Sheep breed can survive in the harsh environmental conditions and are well adapted to climatic changes.

The breed is also noted for its extended productive life due to exceptional tooth retention.

A large proportion of the breed is hefted and due to its geographical location the breed was endangered during the foot and mouth disease epidemic in 2001.

In 1925 Dalesbred been separated from ''Swaledale and Dalesbred Sheep Breeders Association and their first annual meeting held as "Dalesbreed Sheep Association" in 1946.

What are the characteristics of Dalesbred Sheep?

  • The breed is white with round, horns are low set and round, has a black face and a distinctive white mark above each nostril, the end of the muzzle becoming grey.
  • The legs also have black and white markings.
  • Dalesbred wool is dence often weighing 1.5 to 3 kg.
  • The wool coat is plentiful, and curly on the outside, with a dense undercoat.
  • The wool is used for carpet making.
  • The breed is used for the production of meat and wool, providing quality carcass lambs with cross breeding.
  • Ewes have strong mothering characteristics, fecundity rate of 1.20-1.40.
  • Suitable for harsh weather and environments conditions.
  • On the hill most female lambs are kept for pure-bred lambing for the first three or four crops, producing good wethers for finishing at home or for sale as stores, and then they are mainly sold down the hill as draft ewes for crossbreeding.
  • The half-bred breeding sheep are in turn sold for use in lowland flocks. 

What is the weight of mature Dalesbred Sheep?

Dalesbred ram is in the range of 55–75 kg and a mature ewe 45–60 kg.

Karen Harrison 
Heather Challis
Dalesbred sheep Breeders Association - http://www.dalesbredsheep.co.uk

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