Friday, 27 June 2014

Sheep of the month - June 2014

Skudde ewe being shorn. Image: skud.de
Breed notes
Skudde sheep originate from the heather landscapes of the south-eastern coasts of the Baltic Sea. They have a typical fleece for an unimproved breed, with fine under-wool interspersed with coarser hairs. They are small and slender, and grow slowly compared to most modern sheep breeds. Rams have impressive curling horns. Today this breed is mostly kept to maintain grassland. More info: www.skudde.com

Isotope notes
Sheep grow wool continuously throughout the year, though usually more slowly in winter when the days are shorter. They need to be shorn at least once a year. Frequency of shearing depends on the rate of wool growth, and whether animals are stalled or outdoors over winter. The wool is cut so as to leave the fleece hanging together, as it is easier to handle.

The isotopic composition of a wool fibre reflects the total diet of a sheep between shearings. Analysing a series of samples down the fibre can therefore indicate pasture type, fodder type and water sources, and how these change over the farming and climatic year.