Border Leicester sheep are prolific, good mothers, and are known for rapidly growing market lambs. Border Leicesters produce longer loins and leaner meat than many medium sized sheep. They are docile and easy to work with. The rams are often surprisingly well-behaved.
Their bare legs and open faces make them easy to shear. Fleeces yield between 65 and 80 percent and weigh anywhere between 8 and 12 pounds. The Border Leicester locks grow from 6 to 10 inches in twelve months. The numeric count of the fiber is 36 to 48. The wool dyes beautifully and has a mohairlike sheen. The premium fleece is popular with hand spinners.
The breed was developed in 1767 by the Cully brothers of Northumberland, England. It is thought to be a cross of the Leicester Longwool and Teeswater breeds. Border Leicesters are both white and natural colored. The Border Leicester's arched Roman nose and long erect ears give the breed a stylish, distinctive look. A mature ram will weigh from 225 - 300 pounds and stand about 32 inches at the shoulder. Ewes weigh in at 150 - 225 pounds. English Leicesters are said to have been imported by George Washington, who used the rams extensively in his herd of 800 sheep at Mount Vernon.