Zwartbles sheep

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Zwartbles sheep

The Zwartbles is a breed of domestic sheep originating in the Friesland region of the north Netherlands. There it was primarily used for the production of sheep milk as well as lamb and mutton. They were often kept alongside dairy cattle herds.


Zwartbles sheep are from an area of Holland called Friesland their main use was for milk and cheese production. Dutch dairying practice changed so much in the last century causing their numbers to  nearly disappear. By the mid 1970’s they were entered into the Dutch Rare Breed Survival Trust. In 1985 a Flock Book was formed, and numbers have steadily increased.

Zwartbles Sheep were introduced into Britain from Holland in the 1980’s then came over to Northern Ireland in 2000; but were not introduced into Southern Ireland until 2005 with the first lambs born in spring of 2006. In 1995, a Zwartbles Sheep Association was formed in Great Britain and Irish breeders were granted membership numbers in 2007. The South of Ireland Zwartbles Sheep Club was formed in 2010.


Zwartbles sheep are relatively a larger sized animal with striking appearance. They have a black or brown fleece and a white blaze on the face. They have 2-4 white socks, a white tail tip which is traditionally left undocked. Both rams and ewes are polled. They have dense fleece, which ranges from black to brown with sun bleached tips and some silvering may be present in the older animals. Wool of the Zwartbles sheep is medium to fine with excellent crimp.


  • Breed Name: Zwartbles
  • Other Name: None
  • Breed Purpose: Meat, milk
  • Breed Size: Large
  • Weight: Around 85 to 100 kg
  • Horns: Polled
  • Climate Tolerance: Native climates
  • Color: Black or brown
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Country/Place of Origin: Netherlands


The Zwartbles has a striking appearance: a black/brown fleece, a white blaze on the face, 2 – 4 white socks, and a white tail tip (which is traditionally left undocked). Both rams and ewes are polled. The Zwartbles are relatively large sheep: ewes weigh an average of 85 kg (187 lb), and rams 100 kg (220 lb). The dense fleece ranges from black to brown with sun bleached tips, some silvering may be present in older animals. The wool is medium to fine with excellent crimp and fibre length, a Bradford count of 54-56 and a micron count of 27 making it popular for spinning and felting.


The Zwartbles sheep are considered to have a superior conformation that can be passed down to the next generation, it has many characteristics considered desirable for cross breeding, its large frame, prolific nature, milky ewes, and fast growth rate. Commercial sheep farmers have become aware of the Zwartbles reputation for rapid growth, a low fat carcase and are successfully using the rams as maternal sires. The ewe lambs produced are retained for breeding and crossed with any of the main terminal sires.

Zwartbles sheep for sale

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay

Zwartbles sheep images

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