Kerry Hill Sheep on the Farm
Kerry Hill Sheep catch attention due to their distinct color pattern resembling that of a giant panda. These sturdy, robust, and adaptable animals with a friendly and docile predisposition originated on the hills of Kerry in Powys county of Wales, United Kingdom in the 19th century. Kerry Hill sheep faced extinction, but only temporarily. The population quickly recovered thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of small farmers. These medium-sized sheep can be found on farms of their origin in Wales and throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. They have recently been exported to the United States.
No wonder this dual-purpose breed is becoming increasingly popular! This hardy sheep has a sturdy body with deeply fleshed hindquarters and muscular necks. The mature ram weighs 140 to 155 pounds. The ewe weighs between 120 and 140 pounds. Both ewes and rams are hornless. They have white faces with black noses, black areas around the eyes, and black high-set ears. The faces and ears do not grow wool. The legs also have distinctive black markings.
Kerry Hill sheep are very adaptable to their environment and farming styles. They have good foraging abilities and low cost winter requirements. They are ideal for small farms and homesteaders in the climates that permit a good amount of grass. Because of their calm and friendly nature, these animals are suitable even for a novice farmer. They are disease-resistant and prolific with a lambing percentage of about 175%. They are often crossed with Hill and Longwool breeds.
Kerry Hill ewes are attentive and protective mothers. They produce milk in abundance. Lambs grow quickly reaching 35 pounds at 12 to 14 weeks of age.
Shearing of Kerry Hill sheep produces 6 pound of fleece.
These cute creatures also make excellent pets. If I had a petting zoo, I would definitely own Kerry Hill lambs. Because of the pandemic though, a petting zoo is not an option for me at this time.
Kerry Hill Fleece
Kerry Hill sheep is classified as Down breed.
Kerry Hill fleece is high quality, short, dense, and almost free of kemp. It is normally white or cream in color and 31.5 – 33 microns in diameter with a Bradford count of 54 to 56.
The fleece is among the softest of British wools being described as medium / soft. The wool is springy with a mild crimp.
The fleece handles very well by spinners. The staple length varies from 2 ¼ to 4 ¾ inches (6 – 12 cm).
Raw Kerry Hill fleece is low in lanolin and scores easily. Any length of fleece can be spun from the lock. It can also be combed, carded, or flicked prior to spinning. I usually card shorter fibers. Worsted style will produce a subtle shine while maintaining its loft and good insulating qualities. Woolen style will result in a matte-appearing yarn with even better air-trapping capacity.
Kerry Hill Fiber
This wool is white and very uniform, which makes it suitable for dyeing. It takes colors nicely.
The fiber makes a high-bulk yarn suitable for many weights and multiple techniques. The yarn will be relatively light weight with high grist numbers.
Kerry Hill fiber becomes spinners’ and knitters’ favorite very quickly. The fibers from the same sheep have a narrow range of diameters making them very uniform.
What is Made with Kerry Hill Wool
This friendly clear white fabric is soft enough and durable enough for a wide range of garments including sweaters and vests, caps and hats, mittens and socks. It is also suitable for household textiles, such as blankets or pillow cases.