The RBST report that a shocking twenty five of our fifty seven native UK sheep breeds are now considered rare. Seven breeds are listed as, ‘Minority’ (1500-300) which includes the Oxford Down. Twelve breeds are listed as, ‘At Risk’ (900-1500) which includes the Wensleydale, Teeswater and Balwen. Six breeds, listed as, ‘Vulnerable’ (500-900) which are: Welsh Mountain Pedigree, Boreray, Leicester Longwool, Lincoln Longwool, North Ronaldsay and Whitefaced Woodland.
If you are a spinner like myself, you will probably have spun many of these lovely fleeces. It is all the more important to support those who breed these sheep by buying their produce and promoting their sheep breeds. More tutors of crafts that use wool could make a real difference if they design projects using specific fleeces from these lists, to promote the rare breeds. This would encourage demand for their fleeces and introduce their students to a wider variety of fleeces which all have individual characteristics.
Have a look at the RBST website in the link above. You will be surprised how many other breeds you recognise from it.