Lincoln sheep

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Lincoln sheep

The Lincoln sheep, sometimes called the Lincoln Longwool, is a breed of sheep from England. The Lincoln sheepis the largest British sheep, developed specifically to produce the heaviest, longest and most lustrous fleece of any breed in the world. Great numbers were exported to many countries to improve the size and wool quality of their native breeds. The versatile fleece is in great demand for spinning, weaving and many other crafts.

It is now one of Britain’s rarer breeds, categorized as “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust since there are fewer than 1500 registered breeding females in the United Kingdom.


  • Breed Name: Lincoln
  • Other Name: Lincoln Longwool
  • Breed Purpose: Meat and wool
  • Special Notes: Very hardy and strong animals
  • Breed Size: Large
  • Weight: Mature rams weight between 110 and 160 kg. And mature ewe’s average live body weight vary from 91 to 113 kg
  • Horns: No
  • Climate Tolerance: All climates
  • Color: White or colored
  • Rarity: Common
  • Country/Place of Origin: United Kingdom


Lincoln sheep are large, deep bodied, and sturdy. Rams weigh 225-300 pounds, and ewes average 210 pounds. Lincoln wool is long and lustrous. The fleece grows about twelve inches per year, and each sheep produces twelve to sixteen pounds of wool. Lincolns may be white or colored, including shades of gray, silver, charcoal, and black. Though hardy, Lincolns require good nutrition to perform well.


Long-wool sheep appear to have ancestry from white-fleeced sheep imported to England from the European continent during the Roman occupation. Evidence of this body-type of sheep with similar fleece exists as figurines from the continent dating to the second century.

The next evidence of long-wool sheep comes from Lincolnshire, appearing as a detailed illustration in the ‘Luttrell Psalter’ written between 1320 and 1340. In approximately 1460, a brass memorial with a curly-fleeced sheep was placed on the Northleach Church, Gloustershire.

The “old” Lincoln was first identified and depicted in the 1700’s. Robert Bakewell (1725-95), a famous livestock breeder, used the “old” Lincoln with other native stock while creating his “new” Leicester sheep by using inbreeding. Later, Lincolnshire sheepmen used “new” Leicester rams on “old” coarse-wool Lincoln ewes to begin development of the “improved” Lincoln using selective crossbreeding.


  • Distinctive, lightly yoked, uniform in wave or curl with loft, luster and density. Emphasis should be placed on uniformity.
  • Strong, well-defined, braid-type crimp with braid no finer than low quarter (46s).
  • Fast growing and heavy yielding by weight.
  • The white Lincoln should be free of colored wool. A small black spot on lower leg is not a disqualification. More or larger black spots are objectionable.
  • The colored Lincoln fleece is acceptable in any single color or variation of natural colors.


The Cotswold can thrive on rations that will not sustain a Lincoln.

However, if Lincolns receive first-class feeding–including a LOT of grain–they may attain larger weights than Cotswolds.  Either breed fed this way is apt to lay on a great deal of fat.

In the very early 1900s excess fat was less of a consumer concern, thus Idaho’s U.S. Govt. Sheep Experiment Station chose the Lincoln instead of the Cotswold in developing the Columbia breed.

Despite that choice, the Cotswold remained more popular as a rangeland sire breed in those days, due to Cotswold-sired lambs’ ability to thrive on grazing alone (no costly grain).


The Lincoln sheep are large sized animals with deep body. They are probably the world’s largest breed of sheep. They may be completely white or colored, including shades of black, charcoal, gray and silver. They are straight and strong in the back and cover thickly as mature sheep.

Sometimes, they lack fullness through the leg and appear somewhat upstanding when in short fleece. Fleece of the Lincoln is carried in heavy locks that are often twisted into a spiral near the end. They have large, lean and well-muscled carcass. They have a larger and bolder head than that of the other long-wooled sheep breeds. Both rams and ewes are usually polled.

Lincoln sheep images

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