Finnish Landrace Sheep
Finnish Landrace Sheep, or Finnsheep, come from Finland and are known for having litters of lambs. They are a triple-purpose breed, producing wool, milk and meat, all while being hardy, calm and friendly.
We select specifically for local parasite resistance and friendly temperaments. Some of our sheep are so hardy on hay or pasture alone that they've never needed deworming. Our long-term goal is to have the entire flock be genetically resilient without chemical aids or supplements.
Breeding stock, handspinner pet miniflocks and wool products are available, and we sell milking ewes every spring (in milk and trained to jump up on the stanchion and stand still for milking).
The Finnsheep is descended from wild Muflon, which are the original prehistoric sheep of Europe and can still be found wild today in Sardinia and Corsica. Finnsheep are among the Nordic short-tailed breeds that include the Shetland, Icelandic, Romanov, Norwegian Spaelsau, the Swedish Landrace, etc.
Iron-Age Scandinavians attempted to introduce domesticated sheep from elsewhere in Europe, but found the local climate too hard for these imported sheep. They then turned to deliberately domesticating the wild, native muflon sheep, resulting eventually in what became the Finnsheep. When the "Viking" colonists settled in Ireland, Shetland, Iceland and Greenland, they brought the Finnsheep along.
Early Finnish farmers depended upon their sheep for wool (sails for longships, ropes, sewing threads, clothing, beds and blankets), meat, bones, intestines, fat and dairy (for drinking milk, and making cheese, whey, and fermented whey products). Not many crops grew in their short summers, so it was crucial to keep the sheep safe to provide the staples of life.
To protect the sheep during winter, the early Scandinavians brought them inside their own houses! In the excavation of an iron-age farm where the occupants had perished in a fire, archaeologists found the remains of two pregnant sheep, as well as other sheep and lambs.
We benefit today from that intimate association between ancient farmers and their Finnsheep, because the Finn is one of the gentlest sheep breeds around. They are good mothers and friendly pets. Even our ram is gentle with visiting children.
Apart from hardiness and friendliness, early farmers selected the Finnsheep to be prolific mothers. They tend to have multiple lambs in every birth when they are mature, and frequently give birth to quadruplets or quintuplets.
Finnsheep lambs are tiny when born, so the mothers rarely have any birthing troubles. Feeding 4 or more lambs can present quite the challenge, so Finnsheep ewes produce a good amount of milk to meet the demands. The milk is sweet and creamy, but fully homogenized (it doesn't easily separate, like cow milk, into cream and milk; it just stays creamy).
Shearing can be a stressful experience for sheep, but at Mosby's Secret Sidehill Farm, we work with the natural behaviors of the sheep to keep them calm. We teach the sheep to lie down, and we shear them with empty stomachs to avoid internal discomfort from lying on their side. Our older, experienced sheep relax and enjoy the process. They know that they will feel cooler and lighter after their annual haircut is done.
We use hand-shears, not electric clippers. The shears allow a closer haircut and minimize the chances of nicking the skin. The work is also quieter, and more intimate, without the loud mechanical buzzing of clippers. This, again, helps prevent stress for the sheep (not to mention the shearer). The design of these hand shears is the same as it was a thousand years ago, and we think that it remains the best, and most sustainable, tool for shearing.
Note that domesticated sheep do not shed their winter coats. It is extremely unhealthy for Finnsheep to go unshorn; the accumulated layers of annual wool growth would hold heat and moisture against their skin, as well as pulling and straining the skin with the growing weight of the fleece. Shearing keeps them healthy and happy. This annual haircut is a vital part of humane care for all wool breeds of sheep. We do not sell sheep to anyone who will not commit to shearing them every spring.