On this page you’ll find a compiled list of general characteristics of the breeds Dominion Fleece & Fibre has in stock. This page is meant to be a general overview for each breed – be sure to read each product page carefully as each fleece has its own characteristics.
A note about crossbreeds – you will find several crossbreeds available at Dominion Fleece and Fibre. Due to the climate in Alberta, many farmers utilize crossbreeding to create a hardier flock. These sheep can have amazing and unique fleeces, combining characteristics of their parentage. All crossbreed sheep in the shop are noted with either an “X” after their name, or an “X” between two breeds (for example, Merino x Romney is a crossbreed of both breeds, or Finnsheep x #1 has one parent that’s a Finn, and the other is unknown or itself a cross).
Black Welsh Mountain
These are the only Welsh Mountain sheep that are raised in North America. The only true black fleece producing sheep, the fleeces are black with a reddish tinge, often with reddish weathered tips. Unlike other Welsh Mountain breeds, the fleeces does not grey with age, and they are relatively (if not totally free) from kemp. The locks are dense and blocky, with a disorganized curly structure. Micron counts are in the 28-36 range, with staple lengths from 2-4″, although these too can vary with the flock. Excellent for carding and blending, and for hard wearing garments and household textiles.
Originating from Hexham in the county of Northumberland, England, during the early 1900’s, Blueface Leicester (or BFL) is a longwool British breed. Its fleece characteristics are lustrous and fine, with an average count of 24-28 microns. The average staple length is about 6”, and the long curly locks really lend itself to a wonderful worsted-spun yarn.
Charollais were originally bred in the Charolles canton of Burgundy, France. The breed as we know it today were originally from French landrace stock, which were crossed with British Leicester Longwool, and became a recognized breed in France in 1974. They were brought to Canada in 1994, and are primarily bred for meat. They are a fine to medium quality wool with dense, blocky fleeces staples. Staples are short, around 2″, and are excellent for carding up and spinning for garments.
Named after the Clun Forest region in southwest England and Wales, this is a hardy breed known for thriving under harsher conditions and producing excellent lambs. This is a multi-use breed, used for meat, milk, and wool. The wool from this breed is fine and dense, with a micron count in the 27-29 range. It is free from kemp and quite uniform, making it wonderful for beginners and more experienced spinners alike.
East Friesians were bred in Friesland area of Holland and Germany as a milk sheep, and frequently used in crossbreeding to improve milk production and hardiness of a flock. While primarily used for milking, these sheep have a wonderful medium to long fleece, averaging about 30 microns. The wool can produce a lovely lustre when spun worsted, and garments can be excellent, hard wearing clothing staples.
Also called Finnish Landrace or Finn, this is a breed native to Finland, and part of the North European Short-Tailed sheep group (which also includes Shetland and Icelandic sheep). The fleece has a high lustre and nice, tight crimp, and not a lot of grease (making it easy to scour at home). While a medium wool, it is on the finer side, and on average has micron counts between 24 – 31 microns.
Finnsheep were originally imported into Canada in 1966 by the University of Manitoba. They’re highly adaptive to a rugged, cooler climate.
An unimproved, primitive breed, these sheep were brought to Iceland by Vikings between 870-930 CE and are known to thrive in harsher climates. Short and stocky with a range of natural colouring, this breed boasts a huge variety in fleece colours and patterns. They are a dual coat breed, with the tog (top, stronger coat) being around 27 microns, and the thel (softer, undercoat) being around 20 microns. Traditional lopi wool is made from the autumn shearing and includes both coats, however the coats can be separated by hand like a Shetland fleece to just utilize the finer coat. This breed was first imported to Canada in 1985 and does extremely well in the cooler, rougher areas.
Jacob sheep are an ancient breed, unchanged for at least several hundred years. Jacob are single coated, and produce a medium wool. The micron count can range quite a bit from flock to flock (averaging 25-33 microns), as can the colouring of the wool, which often has ranges of white, brown, grey, and black. Jacob fleece is springy and open, and with a selection of colours in a single fleece, gives the spinner a lot of room to experiment and blend.
Jacob is considered a rare breed.
Highly prized for its wool the world over, these sheep come in a range of types from meat to fine wool. The wool is characteristically heavy in lanolin, and has a shorter, finely crimped staple. Merino’s have a diversity in micron counts, ranging from 10-25.
North Country Cheviot
Originating from Border Cheviots, North Country Cheviot were brought to Northern Scotland in the late 1700’s where they flourished in the more rugged, harsher climate. Primarily bred for meat, the fleece is often overlooked, but with a blocky, medium crimped staple, this is an excellent choice for hard wearing garments. North Country Cheviot also doesn’t tend to felt or pill, making it a nice choice for spinning socks and cardigans. Average micron counts are in the 27-33 range.
Rideau Arcott is one of the three Arcott sheep, bred in Canada in 1966 by Agriculture Canada’s Animal Research Centre in Ottawa, and released to sheep breeders in the 1980’s. The breed is genetically 40% Finnish Landrace (Finnsheep), 20% Suffolk, 14% East Friesian, 9% Shropshire and 8% Dorset Horn, with the remaining 9% is Border Leicester, North Country Cheviot, Romnelet and Corriedale.
Another breed primarily used for meat, these sheep have fleece that ranges from a loose crimp to a more straight appearance. Like North Country Cheviot, is great for outer garments and items that might need to take some abuse. The wool falls into the medium category, and can range in hand depending on the flock, however many retain much of Finnsheep characteristics.
A British long wool sheep that evolved in the low wet Romney Marsh district in southeast England during the 13th century, this breed stayed quite isolated for several centuries. The fleeces are lustrous and white, and highly prized by spinners for their long and hardy staple lengths. The micron count is in the 31-36 micron range, although can be slightly lower depending on the flock and breeding. This is an excellent fibre for making garment staples like sweaters and cardigans.
An extremely hardy breed, Scottish Blackface have been the backbone to the Scottish sheep industry for centuries. There are several types of Scottish Blackface, including the Perth and Lanark types. The wool of this breed is prized for many different uses including tweed and fine carpets.
It’s long staple makes it a dream to spin, and with a micron count of 28 – 38 it has a variety of uses.
Much sought after for a variety of uses, whole books have been written on this variable and primitive breed. Originating from the Shetland Islands of Scotland, this is the wool to use if you want to try your hand at traditional Fair Isle knitting. Because of their ability to thrive in harsher climates, they’re well suited to many Canadian climates.
The fleece itself has much variation in colour and patterning. Micron counts range, and can be anywhere from 20 – 25. Sheep and be single, double, or partially coated.
Developed in the south downs of Sussex, and the oldest of the down breeds, this sheep is bred for wool, meat production, and breeding stock. With an average micron count in the 23 – 29 range, it’s a great spin for more delicate garments and next to skin wearability. Southdowns produce a medium, dense wool, and are quite often crossed in Alberta with other breeds, which results in unique and lovely fleeces.
These sheep came from crossing Southdown and Norfolk Horns and became recognized as a breed in 1810. They were imported to North America in 1888, and is now the most common breed in North America. They are almost always grown exclusively for meat, with the wool overlooked, but their wool has fantastic loft and insulating qualities due to its springy crimp which can range from extremely tight (like a Merino) to more relaxed (like a Romney). They have blocky, uniform staples and are entirely white with very little, if any, kemp. Micron ranges are in the 25-33 range, and staple is most commonly around 3″.
Developed from the Tunisian Barbary sheep which came to North America in 1799, Tunis (a.k.a. American Tunis) were once widely raised in the United States, but after the civil war decimated countless flocks, the numbers never bounced back to what they were prior to the war. Primarily a meat sheep, their wool is is a beautiful creamy white (with lambs born all red and shifting to cream as they age). They retain their red faces, and their fleece should have no or very minimal kemp, and quite often they have a very uniform lock structure with a solid crimp. Their fleeces are in the 24-31 micron range and are excellent for a wide range of textiles, and have an average staple length of 3.5-5 inches, commonly in the 4″ range. It’s an excellent fibre for experienced and new spinners alike.