These unusual looking critters are Wensleydale sheep which are among the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds. Originating in the North Yorkshire area of England, they have blue-grey faces and long ringlet-like locks of wool. They are a rare breed, so rare they are considered “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. There are fewer than 1500 registered breeding Wensleydale females on the planet and the heritage festival will have at least one of them on display.
These sheep along two other breeds are raised by Gerry Oliver who farms near Carberry. She raises long wool breeds and brought several examples to last year’s festival. This year she will display Romney sheep from Kent in England where they are raised for their wool and meat along with Cotswold sheep (right), another British breed from the southern midlands of England, also suppliers of meat and wool.
At the festival Gerry will do a demonstration of rug hooking using wool sheared from her long wool sheep.
Known as heritage breeds or rare breeds, several Manitoba farmers raise an assortment of livestock that are considered rare. A popular attraction last year, this time the festival will also have rare pigs, chickens and donkeys.
For more about rare breeds visit Rare Breeds Canada whose aim is to conserve heritage livestock.