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Miniature Shetland Sheep

Updated on July 21, 2017

Shetland Sheep are a rugged and hardy primitive breed that was brought to Shetland Island by the Vikings over 1000 years ago. They are notable for their small size, growing only 60-125 pounds, their diversity of colors, eleven in all, and the formidable spiral horns seen on the rams. They're not technically considered a miniature sheep breed but since they are a good deal smaller then most breeds of sheep some people call them such.

These sheep are most valued for their fiber which is very fine and soft with a micron count averaging 23, which is the same class as cashmere. Micron counts can range from 15-36 but anything over 31 microns is discouraged as that is courser then desired. The 15 micron fibers are usually found around the neck and this super fine wool is used to make traditional Scottish wedding shawls, rumored to be thin and fine enough to be pulled entirely through a wedding band. This breed is distinct in the fact it comes in so many colors. They come in white, musket (light grey brown,) fawn, mioget (light yellow-brown,) moorit (between fawn and red-brown,) dark brown, light grey, emasjet (blue,) sheala (a dark steel gray,) and black.

Also notable in the breed is their ease of handling and care. They have naturally shorter tails then most sheep which do not need to be docked. Their docile personalities make them ideal for pets and fiber animals, and their ease of lambing makes them great as starter livestock. They are also hardy and adaptable with impressive longevity.

Unlike many other small livestock it doesn't appear these little creatures were ever faced with the threat of extinction. They remain popular today among sheep fanciers, fiber enthusiasts, and pet owners.


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      4-h breeder 6 years ago

      I am an active 4-h member in two different livestock clubs and am breeding a specialty breed that is a mix between a cheviot and a miniature Shetland. The first has beautiful wool quality and impressing intelligence for a sheep. We bred her with a miniature chocolate Shetland that has ranked in multiple shows and had an adorable baby born with black wool but gained white markings. I also suspect she will become more reddish in her growth as I am starting to see a tint of red in her. Thank you, this information will be useful as I bring her to her first show hoping not to just place in showmanship and natural wool but win an award out of all 4-h members exhibiting by sharing information about my breed.