Finnsheep History and Characteristics
Finnsheep, or Finnish Landrace as they are known in their native country of Finland, were first imported to North America by the University of Manitoba, Canada in 1966. Progeny was then brought from Canada by private breeders in the USA.
The breed is considered to be several hundred years old, descending from the mouflan that live in the wild on Sardinia and Corsica. They are also said to be related to other Scandinavian short-tailed sheep. Their success as a northern landrace is testament to their ability to adapt to Finland’s harsh climate and available rough forage.
Most of the Finnsheep in the USA are pure white. They are also increasingly available in solid black and black/white piebald (spotted) and somewhat less commonly found in grey, brown and fawn. Finnsheep wool has unmistakable luster and softness in all shades of color. While the fleece is lightweight (5-6 lb.) it is highly praised by hand spinners as it blends easily with other fibers, has a long staple (3-6″), and a wool spinning count in the 50′s (24 to 31 microns). See our Fleece Picture Gallery page for some pictures of Finnsheep fleeces.
The Finnsheep is not a big sheep but it produces a lean, succulent meat with a light, delicate flavor. The meat is sought after by many a gastronome. Due to this breed’s year-round lambing ability, Finn lamb is perfect for any holiday celebration.
Renowned as prolific breeders producing multiple births, the Finnsheep regulary has triplets and quadruplets. Our history records show several litters of octuplets and septuplets. It is not uncommon for ewe lambs, twelve months of age, to have twins and triplets. Finnsheep are excellent mothers with plentiful milk for the large litters.
Unlike many other breeds, the Finnsheep matures very early. Rams mature at four to eight months and ewes are bred to lamb by 12 months of age.
The breed as a whole has a friendly dispostion. The Finnsheep tends to have greater tolerance to heat and cold than most domestic breeds. They exhibit greater foraging ability, enjoying leaves and brush as much as cultivated pasture.