British Sheep Breeds

The Lincoln

The Lincoln sheep breed originated in Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire is an English county situated on the east coast of the island and bordering the North Sea. The Lincoln is one of Great Britain's many indigenous breeds. The original Lincoln was a coarse, very large sheep. Despite its size, it was thin-fleshed. There was some resistance to change but market demand eventually brought about the introduction of Leicester blood. This resulted in a substantial increase in carcass and wool quality without much reduction in body size. Today the Lincoln is still one of the largest of the world's sheep breeds. It is classified as a Long Wool.

The main promoter of the Lincoln breed was the Dudding family who lived in the Lincolnshire area of Great Grimsby for around 175 years. The Duddings exported Lincolns to Argentina in particular but also to other countries. The stud was not dispersed until 1913.

The Lincoln is heavily built and rugged but has a gentle, mild character. The body is rectangular in shape, deep and with great width. The back is straight and strong. The head is large and bolder, more so than in other longwool breeds. The face is open but there is a well-defined forelock. Wool below the eyes is frowned upon. The legs are long but may not be well-fleshed. Mature rams weigh between 250 and 350 pounds while ewes are slightly lighter at 200 to 250 pounds. For show purposes, solid black hooves are preferred. There may be wrinkles on the head of a ram.

Lincoln SheepCredit:

Lincolns may be coloured or white. White Lincolns should not have dark spots either through the fleece or on the body. Coloured Lincolns may be shaded and as such will have the darkest wool on the shoulders and legs with the colour shading to silver grey or black on the body. The fleece is very long, lustrous and quick growing. It forms heavy locks which often twist into a spiral near the tip. While some sheep will carry wool on the lower legs, all should have ample wool to the knees and hocks. The staple is very long, from 8 to 15 inches with yields of 65 to 80%. The fleece of the Lincoln is the heaviest and coarsest of all the longwool breeds. Ewe fleeces may weigh from 12 to 20 pounds. Although the fleece is coarse and rather hair-like, it does have considerable lustre.

Lincolns are extremely good doers but this can be a problem as over-conditioned ewes are difficult to get in lamb. Fertility is only average.

Lincolns were exported into the United States towards the end of the 18th century. They did not become overly popular and today they are recognised mainly for the part they played in the development of such commercially important, all-American breeds as the Columbia and Targhee.

Putting Lincoln rams over Rambouillet ewes resulted in the Columbia. This was at Laramie, Wyoming. Various longwool rams were tried before deciding on the Lincoln. When the outcome showed such potential, the project was moved, in 1918, to the Sheep Experiment Station at Dubois, Idaho. In 1926, experiments began to develop a 'comeback' sheep. The idea was to breed a sheep with three-quarter strong wool and one-quarter long wool. Eventually the Targhee was developed.

The Lincoln (and Leicester) was also used in Australia and New Zealand to develop the Corriedale, a dual purpose breed which remains popular to this day. The Lincoln is also found in Canada.