Shetland sheep originate from the Shetland Isles. It is thought that they were brought to the Isles by the viking settlers over a thousand years ago. They are a small, primitive, short tailed sheep. The rams are usually horned and the ewes are usually polled (unhorned). Rams can weigh up to 125lbs and ewes can weigh between 75lbs to 100lbs.
The breed is most known for it fine soft wool. However, they also provide a quality meat. Shetland wool comes in eleven different colors and over 30 different coat patterns that can occur in many combinations, making them an important to the wool industry of the Shetland Isles. Many hand spinners value the variety of colors because natural colors can be used undyed, and the fleece can be rued instead of sheared. Shetland yarn from the Shetland Isles is well known for the traditional knitted lace shawls that can pass through a wedding ring.
Shetland sheep have what is call a fluted short tale that does not require docking. Sometimes their little tails will wag like a dog when being scratched indicating their enjoyment. Shetland sheep are a hearty foraging sheep that can thrive in poor grazing environments. They are easy lambers with lambs weighing from 4 to 7 lbs.