About Our Sheep
Fergus, one of our purebred Perendale rams (on the right), standing next to his seven-month-old Perendale x Cheviot son (on the left).
History: Our flock started with adult ewes that were mostly a cross between two breeds: Border Cheviots and Perendale sheep, while our rams are purebred Perendales. Perendales are very rare in North America. Most or all such that we know of are descended from purebred Perendale sheep originally imported from New Zealand by Norlaine Schultz in Maryland before quarantine restrictions made it impossible to import live sheep. Before dispersing her flock, Norlaine sold Perendale breeding stock to flocks that included some in Maryland (Linda Tesdahl, Lazy Ewe Farm), Utah (a flock since dispersed), California (Marta Sullivan; flock now dispersed), and Jill Hackett (Ferndale Farms in Humboldt County, California), among others. Several U. S. breeders have continued to work on improving Perendale sheep in the United States and maintaining genetic diversity by importing semen from top rams in New Zealand. At Lucky Lane Farm, we are committed to educating shepherds about the advantages of this wonderful breed of sheep.
Perendale Sheep: Classified as “longwool” sheep, Perendales fleeces are much finer in texture than most longwool fleeces, being fine enough (in micron count) to qualify as “medium” fleeces. Perendales originated in New Zealand as a cross between Border Cheviots and Romneys in hopes of improving farmers’ returns. Developed by Sir Geoffrey Peren at Massey University in 1956, who crossed a Cheviot ram over a Romney ewe, this breed enjoys considerable popularity in New Zealand. More information on their history and characteristics can be found here.
An “easy-care” dual-purpose (wool + meat) breed, Perendale sheep are easy lambers, good mothers, with good feet and parasite resistance/resilience, highly productive sheep that thrive even on relatively poor pasture or hay, with a good temperament (neither too “flighty” nor too “stolid”; our rams are perfect gentlemen) – a perfect sheep for fiber enthusiasts and beginning shepherds alike. They are also well-suited to training Border collies, being able to stand up well to being extensively worked (if worked properly!) by dogs without turning “sour”. A Perendale sheep is not a random cross between a Cheviot and a Romney; many years of selective breeding went into the development of this breed.
Cora, a natural colored (NC, AKA “black”) yearling ewe. Most of our NC sheep lighten in color as they age, although Cora so far is retaining her dark color.
Perendale sheep tolerate both harsh winters and warm, humid mid-Atlantic summers remarkably well. Their fleece is characterized by a 28-35 micron wool that attains a length of 5-6 inches, and a “handle” that makes their fleece appealing to handspinners. A ewe might yield 6 or more pounds of fleece (unskirted), while an adult ram can yield 11 pounds (unskirted) of fleece.
We sell our fleeces each year at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival; we also market our fleeces at other local area fiber festivals, such as the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. We also market our fleeces online. Our sheep are shorn in late February, about a month before the ewes lamb. Please contact us if you wish to reserve fleeces. Our sheep are shorn professionally by an award-winning shearer, Emily Chamelin (2nd place finish in the Intermediate Division in the World Sheep Shearing Competition held in July 2019 in Le Dorat, France); you will find few “second cuts”. Our sheep are not coated, but the fleeces are still quite low in “vegetative material” (VM), because the ewes are maintained on pasture or are fed grass (not alfalfa) hay on the ground (not in overhead feeders). Our lambs typically graze our hayfield all winter long, requiring little if any supplemental hay, and are especially low in VM.
Fleece from Fergus, our 4-year-old pure Perendale ram, at shearing. Fergus possesses fleece superpowers; this fleece weighed 11 lb unskirted at shearing.
Our Objectives: We have been working towards establishing a pure Perendale flock on our farm, both by “breeding up” (with each generation being a higher percentage pure Perendale) and by acquiring pure Perendale ewes. In the fall of 2017, we purchased two pure Perendale ewe lambs (both natural colored; NC) and one NC pure Perendale ram lamb from Linda Tesdahl, all conceived via artificial insemination using semen imported from New Zealand. In the fall of 2018, we were fortunate to be able to purchase ten older pure or high % (registered or registerable) Perendale ewes from Jill Hackett of Ferndale Farms in Humboldt County, California, all originally bred by Marta Sullivan. This expanded our “gene pool” for our foundation ewes to twelve pure or high % Perendale ewes. By the Fall of 2020, we anticipate having 19 pure or high % (> approx 90% pure) Perendale ewes in our breeding group of 25 ewes. We are currently in the process of re-establishing the Perendale registry in North America previously managed by Marta Sullivan.We expect to have registered Perendale ewe and ram lambs available during the summer of 2020. We are committed to increasing the genetic diversity of this breed in North America by importing semen from top rams in New Zealand; unfortunately, the global pandemic has forced us to put our plans to import semen during 2020 on hold.
Our breeding objectives include the following: (1) Parasite resistance/resilience (determined by need to deworm, as dictated by FAMACHA score plus fecal egg counts on potential replacement rams, as determined during the prime mid-summer parasite season); (2) fleece quality; (3) weaning weights; and (4) prolificacy (we aim towards twin lambs or triplets if raised without supplementation – we have never yet had bottle lambs in our house). We only deworm lambs as needed, and rarely if ever need to deworm adult sheep. The first three of these are highly heritable traits.
Brother and sister Cheviot x Perendale lambs
We sell our lambs in mid-summer (breeding stock) or early fall (freezer lambs). In future years, we will also have some yearlings available mid-summer. Please contact us if you want to be added to our mailing list for freezer lambs or breeding stock, as we sell out each year.
Five-month old Perendale ram lambs
Freezer Lambs: Ram lambs will weigh roughly 95-105 lb when they go to market; “hanging weight” (after slaughter, but including bones) is about half of that. We only sell whole lambs for consumption. If you don’t have room for a whole lamb (typ. 45-50 lb of meat) in your freezer, consider splitting a lamb with a friend or two. By buying a whole lamb, you get to control how each half is cut – lamb chops vs rack of lamb, lamb shanks vs ground lamb, butterflied legs vs whole or half legs, shoulder roasts vs chops or cubes for stew or shish kebabs, and so forth. We are happy to walk you through the process of deciding how to put together a cutting order!
Adult Border Cheviot x Perendale ewes