Pastures new for one of UK’s most vulnerable sheep breeds
A pedigree flock of ‘vulnerable’ rare breed Lincoln Longwool sheep has found a new home on the University of Lincoln’s picturesque Riseholme Campus, where they will help to preserve the future of the breed and enhance agricultural teaching, learning and research.
The University’s farm is now the proud owner of 10 Lincoln Longwool ewes – the UK’s largest native sheep breed, renowned for its large heavy fleece of long lustrous wool, to which the county owes much of its historic wealth.
David Stainton, Farm and Estate Manager at the University of Lincoln, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have this stunning flock of Lincoln Longwools, native to our county, as the newest additions to our Riseholme Campus.
“The Lincoln Longwool is one of our very important native rare breeds, and it is now a category 3 ‘vulnerable’ on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) Watchlist. Breeding numbers today are lower than in the 1990s, with less than 800 breeding ewes spread across the country. Flocks of Lincoln Longwools are also mainly concentrated in Lincolnshire, making them especially vulnerable in the event of any future disease outbreak, and so we will do all we can to help preserve the future of these special sheep.”
The team at the University of Lincoln is working closely with the Lincoln Longwool Sheep Breeders Association – the official breed association – to increase nationally the numbers and to maintain breed purity, conformity and standards. It is hoped that the University’s ewes will breed and have lambs to grow the flock later this year.
Louise Fairburn is the Chairman of the Association. She said: “It is so encouraging to see such enthusiasm for our treasured Lincoln Longwool coming from the University. Entrusting our heritage breed to the agricultural ambassadors of the future is certainly a step in the right direction for the future of the breed. Together we are looking to preserve this veteran of the sheep world, which carries with it such historic weight and importance to the pastoral wealth of the county.”
As well as supporting the Association’s vital work to preserve the future of the breed, the flock of Lincoln Longwools at the University of Lincoln will bring unique learning and training opportunities for students.
The Riseholme Campus will host its Lambing Sunday event on 24th March 2019. Although the Lincoln Longwools won’t be lambing in time for this event, it is hoped they will be part of the annual occasion for years to come.
Original article: http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/news/2019/03/1522.asp