HGF Shetland Sheep

Shetlands are small, fine-boned sheep belonging to the Northern Short-tailed group. They have adapted to the topographic and climatic conditions of Shetland for over a thousand years. They are very hardy and have the ability to thrive on low levels of nutrition. They are prolific with a prolificacy of about 160%. They are highly adaptable and succeed well in less rigorous conditions off the Shetland Islands. There is a considerable variation in height and weight of sheep depending on feeding conditions. Shetland sheep are very hardy, good milking mothers and easy lambers. When crossed with a suitable commercial ram they will produce a good butcher's lamb. Being 'browsers' rather than just 'grazers' they have been found highly useful for conservation grazing.

"Shetland Wool, taking all its properties together, is perhaps the competest article of the kind in the universe, possessing at the same time, the gloss and softness of silk, the strength of cotton, the whiteness of linen, and the warmth of wool." -Sir John Sinclair, September 22, 1790

Shetland sheep have for generations been noted for their very soft and well crimped fleece. The wool is the finest of all native breeds and shows an amazing variety of colors and markings. There are 11 main whole colors and 30 recognized markings. By selecting from colored fleeces a range of naturally colored yarn can be produced. This eliminates the need for dyeing and therefore retains the soft feel of the natural fiber and is favored by those who prefer a totally natural approach. Shetland wool fibers are of a simple construction with a central cortex covered by a think scaly cuticle, and have an average diameter of about 23 microns for neck and shoulder wool to 25 to 35 microns for britch wool. The average staple length is 3.5 inches. The amount of crimp varies, and is important in providing the 'bounce' required for knitwear. There is a positive correlation between fineness and crimp, with wool of the finest quality being crimped at between 8 and 12 to the inch. Wool from Shetland sheep is used to produce gossamer lace, the famous 'Fair isle' knitwear, and fine tweeds. Tweed is also produced from the coarser Shetland wool, but the Isles are best known for their multicolored knitwear (made using Fair Isle knitting) and for the traditional knitted lace shawls which are so fine, they will pass through a wedding ring.

Higher Ground Farm has selected foundation stock of "fine crimp" type to produce fine, garment quality wool.

Emma and PupShetland Sheep

Here you can view our gallery of HGF Shetlands.