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Cotswold Sheep

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4.6/5

(3 Reviews)


The basics:
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.

wonderful

good mothering instinct, voracious knitter, good market size, long fiber length, luster fleece

challenging

extreme heat, slower maturation

interesting

overwintered outdoors, gentle giants

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