The Cotswold sheep breed, named for its traditional habitat, has a rich history dating back to the 15th century, where it played a pivotal role in funding the economic development of the Cotswold region through the lucrative wool trade. Originating from the picturesque Cotswold Hills of England, these sheep were cherished for their robust nature and prized fleece, which contributed to the construction of notable landmarks like "wool churches" and estates.
Cotswold sheep, with their distinctive large frame and slow growth rate, have been valued for centuries for their resilience and adaptability to harsh environments. From their arrival in America in the early 19th century to the establishment of the American Cotswold Record Association in 1878, these sheep have left an indelible mark on both sides of the Atlantic. Their fleece, characterized by its lustrous, silky sheen and long staple length, has been highly sought after by artisans and craftsmen for its strength, length, and exceptional dyeability.
Despite facing near extinction in the mid-1900s due to changes in agricultural practices and market demands, the Cotswold breed has experienced a remarkable revival in recent years, driven by a renewed appreciation for its wool among fiber artists. With registration now available for black individuals, Cotswold sheep showcase a stunning array of colors, adding to their allure and versatility. Today, the Cotswold breed continues to captivate enthusiasts with its enduring charm and enduring legacy, embodying a tradition of excellence in agriculture and craftsmanship.
The hallmark of Cotswold sheep is their distinctive fleece, prized for its exceptional length, strength, and luster. It is revered for its versatility and luxurious feel.
Cotswold fleece is characterized by its long, silky locks, which can measure up to 12 inches or more in length. This extraordinary staple length makes Cotswold wool ideal for spinning into yarns with superior durability and sheen. The wool exhibits a natural crimp that enhances its elasticity and resilience, ensuring that finished products retain their shape and integrity over time. Their wool takes dyes well, and can be felted easily.