Whitefaced Woodland Sheep - Rare Breed

Whitefaced Woodland Sheep at the Agricultural Science Unit

Ovis aries

The Whitefaced Woodland is very hardy and able to thrive on poor quality grazing and harsh terrain. 

Both ewes and rams are horned with rams having heavy spiraled horns that can on occasion grow too close to the head.

The Whitefaced Woodland is a rare sheep breed that was once very popular in Northern England but now is among the threatened breeds of sheep.

The ASU Introduced 2 Pregnant Whitefaced Woodland ewes to the Unit in January 2022 as part of the efforts to bring the breeds numbers up and reduce their status on the RBST watchlist. These two ewes then blessed the ASU by giving us 3 Beautiful ewe lambs.

History of the Whitefaced Woodland Sheep

In the 1970s the Whitefaced Woodlands had to be saved from extinction by the RBST and there only remains 900 breeding ewes left in Great Britain. By 1980, there were only 14 flocks of Whitefaced Woodland left. The Whitefaced Woodland originated from the blackfaced Linton type of mountain sheep. The Cheviot and the Merino were also used in the breed’s development.

The Whitefaced Woodland is a northern sheep breed from the South Pennines of Yorkshire and Debyshire. also known as the Penistone sheep after the Yorkshire town where sheep sales have been held since 1699.

The Woodland sheep were known for their finer fleeces after the introduction of Merino blood by the Duke of Devonshire in the early 19th Century. In time the two groups amalgamated and formed the one breed.


For More Information click the link to be sent to the RBST website

Use of the Whitefaced Woodland Sheep

Whitefaced Woodland sheep is mainly kept for meat production. But the breed is also very good for the production of wool.

The wool is used mainly for hand-kitting yarns and blankets with some of the coarser grades being used for carpets. 

The Whitefaced Woodland has strong and durable fleece, with a medium to soft handle. Their fleece is predominantly used in carpets.


Fact Check

Common Name : Whitefaced Woodland sheep

Scientific Name : Capra aegagrus hircus

Type : Mammal

Diet : Herbivore

Group Name : Flock

Average Life Span in Captivity : 10 - 12 years


Size: Large Sheep

Weight : 60-130Kg

Did you know.jpg

Whitefaced Woodlan sheep are one of the biggest hill breeds, with one of the finest fleeces of any of the hill sheep breeds.