Ryeland sheep facts

The Ryeland sheep are mainly raised for meat. The breed originated from England. One of the oldest English sheep which were grazed on the rye pastures. The monks of Leominster in Herefordshire bred the Downs type sheep. One of the prime lambs producing breed which is highly fertile.

Ryeland sheep breed information

The Ryeland sheep are medium-sized white in color.

The adult Ryeland ram weighs 60 kg (130 lbs) and ewe weighs 45 kg (100 lbs).

The Rye breed is highly fertile and docile.

Both the sexes are polled(hornless).

The fleece weight is around 2 to 3 kg with staple length of 8 to 10 cm with a fiber diameter of 25 to 28 microns.

The wool covers much of the face and legs, the breed is heavily wooled sheep.

Ryeland sheep grow faster and mature early, they are perfect for the use of meat production.

Ryeland sheep have a small head which helps them easy for first time lambing ewes.

Ryeland sheep are good resistance to footrot as they have strong hooves.

Ryeland sheep are known for their ability to thrive on very poor feed.

The Ryeland sheep breed is used primarily for meat and wool production.

An Elizabethan observer wrote that ‘among short-wools, Ryeland has pre-eminence with Leominster as the center of its trade’

Things to know

In 1919 the Ryeland sheep were introduced to Australia. They are classified as an endangered breed by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and also one of the nine heritage breeds.

One of the breeds that used to create Poll Dorset is Ryeland sheep. The poll gene from Ryeland sheep was one of the breeds that helped in the creation of Poll Dorset in the Dorset breed.

Ryeland sheep are ideal for small property farmers.

In Australia, only white-colored Ryeland sheep are found, but in Great Britain, even the colored ones can be seen.

In Australia, the wool is always white and free of kemp.

Queen Elizabeth I was in love with the “Lemster” Ryeland wool and insisted she only ever wore stockings made from ‘Lemster’ Ryeland wool.

One of the oldest breeds dating back over seven centuries.

In 1834 Professor Youatt noted that it would “endure the privation of food better than any other breed”, while Sir Joseph Banks (the same eminent scientist who accompanied Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769) maintained that Ryeland sheep deserve a niche in the temple of famine”.

Characteristics of Ryeland sheep

Breed NameRyeland sheep
Other Name
Country/Place of OriginEngland
Breed PurposeMeat
Breed SizeMedium
Weight Ram(Male) 60 kg (130 lbs)
Weight Ewe(Female) 45 kg (100 lbs)
Good for Stall Fed open grazing 
Climate Tolerance local conditions

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