Leicester Longwool Sheep are perhaps the most historically
significant of all sheep breeds in its British homeland, and it is certainly
the most famous of the longwools. It was the breed selected for development by Robert Bakewell, the most renowned and successful of all the early workers in
the field of livestock improvement. Working at Dishley Grange in Leicestershire
from 1755, he produced the New - or Dishley - Leicester, which combined the
breeds original hardiness and excellence in the production of a long, heavy
fleece with an increase in fattening ability and early maturation.
Unfortunately Bakewell did not record his breeding and
development methods - nor talk of them much - although there is no doubt he was
The Leicester was brought to New Zealand in 1843 - where it
was promptly renamed the English Leicester - to be farmed on the lower, wetter
areas unsuitable for the Merino.
They were used in the creation of several breeds developed
in New Zealand, notably the Corriedale and the Halfbred. Leicester rams are
still in some demand today to create this latter breed, although their numbers
are substantially reduced.
Content and Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds