Finnsheep are a multi-purpose breed. In their native Finland, where they are known as Finnish Landrace Sheep, they are raised for meat, wool and pelts. In the United States, their primary use has been in cross-breeding programs to increase the lambing percentage of commercial flocks.
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 origin is probably related to their high adaptability to rugged climate and the high roughage feed available.
Most of the Finnsheep in the USA the Finnsheep are pure white. They are also readily available in black and black/white piebald (spotted). They are less commonly found in grey, brown and fawn. The wool has unmistakable luster and softness in shades from white through black. 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).
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 regularly 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 disposition. The Finnsheep tends to have greater tolerance to heat and cold than most domestic breeds. They exhibit greater foraging ability enjoying leaves and bracken as much as pastures.
The Finnsheep Breeders Association has given us permission to use some of their information. Check out their site for more information about the breed.