The Cotswold Sheep is a longwool breed from the Cotswold hills in the English counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Cotswolds may be descendants of white sheep brought by the Romans to Britain in the first century.
The Cotswold is a large, slow growing sheep which produces lustrous, heavy fleece. Traditionally, Cotswolds were used for crossbreeding to finer wool sheep, to produce large lambs which could be used for meat or fleece.
Cotswold Sheep were first introduced to the United States in 1832, and by 1879 were the most popular breed in America. Today however, both the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the U.K, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, have classified the Cotswold as a rare or minority breed.
Appearance / health:
Coswold sheep are large, hornless sheep with course and wavy white fleece, usually 8-10 inches long. A notable characteristic of the Cotswold is the tuft of wool on the forehead. The face is white with some gray or tan hair. The hooves are black; the legs are white. Black markings are sometimes seen on the nose and inside the ears.
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), "Until recently, only white sheep were considered part of the Cotswold breed, though registration is now available for black sheep. These sheep are called black but their colors vary across a beautiful range of silver, bluish gray, and charcoal hues."
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.
For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
good mothering instinct, voracious knitter, good market size, long fiber length, luster fleece
extreme heat, slower maturation
overwintered outdoors, gentle giants
Fuzzy Wuzzy, My Wooly Baby
Cotswold Sheep are large. The ewes can weigh up to 200lbs and the rams are even larger but they are gentle giants.
I got Fuzzy Wuzzy shortly after she was weaned. I'm a voracious knitter and when I saw all that beautiful fleece, I wanted a Cotswold of my own.
She's a wonderful animal. Very even-tempered, even when she has little ones, and she loves to chat with any humans who come to visit her. Her fleece is very strong and durable and can be used to reinforce garments like socks, specifically the heels and toes. If not sheared on time, the fleece can get matted and messy since it's curly so PLEASE make sure you have a source for sheering before you commit to this breed.
Fuzzy Wuzzy hasn't had any health problems but she's mostly a pet and lives a very low stress life. This breed can have some kidney issues so make sure to do your research before you commit. They're good foragers which helps with the feed bill. They do just fine in cold weather but I imagine extreme heat would be a problem. (our temps rarely get above 85F.)
Fuzzy Wuzzy is a wonderful addition to our gentleman's farm and if you're looking for a breed that's gentle and even-tempered, look into Cotswolds..
From lateiatiger Aug 6 2015 10:14PM
Cotswold - a good breed for fiber and meat
I have raised 6 purebred Cotswolds, and multiple cross bred lambs from them. The Cotswold has a long lock, luster fleece which is exceptional for dyeing and hand-spinning. Due to the relative coarseness of the fleece it is better for rugs, heavy blankets, and slippers or socks.The long fiber length and coarseness also increases durability compared to the finer and shorter fleeced sheep breeds.
Bus has her name for a reason, she looks like a fridge on legs and if she wants to go past you she will. When she was a yearling, the shearer wanted her to go the opposite direction she wanted to go - and sat on her back. She didn't even notice and just kept going her own way, much to the shearer's annoyance and surprise. Bus has improved since then, and often nearly knocks me down to get attention, or a handful of grain.
Cotswold are slow growing, but reach a good market size at about 5-6 months. Due to the slower maturation, a Cotswold lamb of up to two years will not taste like mutton. Of the Cotswold's I have raised, only one ewe averaged singles, the other ewes have averaged twins. The Cotswold ewes have good mothering instinct and rarely lose their lambs..
From WoadWarrior May 17 2014 6:28PM