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Wiltshire Horn FAQ.

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Are Wiltshire Horns sheep?
Yes they are. Because they shed their wool (and not many sheep do that) and have horns in both rams and ewes (and not many other breeds do) they don't look like some other sheep breeds.

 

Are they a new breed?
No, in fact they are one of the oldest breeds of domesticated sheep in Britain. Two hundred years ago they were one of the most abundant sheep in Britain.

 

Are they new to Australia?
No, they arrived in Australia in 1951.

 

Do they breed all year round like Merinos?
No, like other British Breeds they have a breeding season once a year, starting around March, with lambs being born around August.

 

Do they just have one lamb at a time like most sheep?
No, they almost always have twins, sometimes triplets, and occasionally quads. Unlike other breeds they have no trouble raising twins and rarely have trouble raising even triplets.

 

When do they shed their wool?
Around Spring time, when days are getting longer, but the exact timing depends on how warm it is and how good the feed is.

 

What happens to the wool?
It stays on the ground for a few weeks until it either rots away or is used by birds for nests.

 

When do they grow their wool again?
Around Autumn when days are getting shorter, but the exact timing depends on how cold it is.

 

Can you use the wool?
It could be used for felting, but like most British Breeds the wool has little value.

 

Can Wiltshires be used for cross-breeding?
Yes, and the resulting crossbred lambs are of very good quality, no matter what other breed is used.

 

Will the crossbred lambs shed their wool
Some may shed a small amount, but you have to back cross to Wiltshires three or more times to get fully shedding cross bred sheep.

 

If I do that can I upgrade the crossbred to stud Wiltshire status?
No you cannot 'grade up' Wiltshires. Stud Wiltshire Horn sheep can only be derived from other Stud Wiltshires by an unbroken chain of pedigree, ownership, and registration. Commercial Wiltshires (that is, those lacking pedigree and an unbroken chain of registration) can never become Stud sheep. And no sheep having, at any time in the past, an ancestor from whatever breed who was not a Stud Wiltshire Horn sheep, can ever become a Stud Wiltshire Horn sheep. However there is a good market for 'commercial' Wiltshires and they are used in many farming systems. We do not support registration of annex or appendix flocks.

 

I notice most Wiltshires have black spotting on face and sometimes on body and horns, does this matter?
No, spotting on face and horns is permitted, as is a small number of spots on the body. But excessive spotting, especially in young animals, is not desirable. Most Wiltshires will develop spots with increasing
age.

How long do they live?
As much as 14 years in ewes and a little less in rams. They can breed up to around 10 or 11 years if in good condition.

 

Do they behave like other sheep?
Yes, generally, but they are less strongly flocking, preferring to graze in ones or twos during the day, and then come together with the rest of the flock at night. They are difficult to work with dogs, but
very easy to train to come when called (especially easily trained with food!). They don't panic like Merinos.

 

I see they are described as 'easy care', does this mean I don't have to do anything?
They are 'easy care' not no care. They need to be vaccinated, and drenched for worms (where worms are a problem), and they can get health problems like any other animal. However the labour (and problems) associated with wool, is unnecessary - no shearing, crutching, certainly no mulesing, no dipping for blowfly or lice treatment. That is they are more like cattle or horses than Merinos in terms of the husbandry needed.

 

Are they available all over Australia?
Yes, in every state except the Northern Territory. They seem to have a much greater tolerance for a range of conditions than other sheep, being found from southern Queensland to southern Tasmania, and from
coastal NSW to saltbush country, and from Kangaroo Island to south west WA.

 

Will they eat weeds?
They will certainly eat juicy weeds such as cape weed, sorrel, dandelion. They will nibble at briars. They won't eat thistles or blackberry or other noxious weeds. Like all animals they prefer good pasture to poor pasture, and good grass to weeds.

 

What other enterprises could they be used with?
They are finding a lot of use in association with orchards and vineyards.

 

What about organic farming?
Considerable potential. Unlike other sheep no chemicals need to be used externally, and by careful breeding, paddock rotation, and possibly the use of organic drenches, it would be possible to be completely chemical free.

 

How do I register my sheep?
When you purchase sheep registered in the Australian Flock Register, you will be invited to join the Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association Ltd.(ASSBA) Membership to that association, which is separate from membership to the Australian Wiltshire Horn Sheepbreeders Association (AWHSA) will give you access to the Association-sponsored shows and sales and will enable you to make use of the ASSBA’s records of flocks, breeding, recording of pedigrees etc.

 

All stud sheep that you purchase must have the change of ownership registered with the ASSBA. All sheep that you wish to sell as stud sheep must have their pedigrees registered with the ASSBA, and you must have registered your flock with them. All sheep that are shown must be registered stud sheep.

 

If you purchase sheep from a flock that is not a registered stud flock, or purchase sheep that are not registered with the ASSBA, they can never become stud sheep later.

 

Once you are yourself a member of the ASSBA you will be able to in turn register sheep you breed that meet the AWHSA Standard (as presented in the Flock Book). Note we do not support the registration of Appendix Flocks - neither non-stud ( or 'commercial') purebred sheep, nor crossbred sheep, can ever be upgraded to become stud sheep.