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Breed History The Zwartbles is thought to descend from the Schoonebeker breed which was found in North East Holland. But rapidly declining numbers spurred on a small group of farmers to line breed the sheep with an emphasis on the white 'badger' markings and this new strain became known as 'Zwartbles' (zwart - black and bles - blaze) Schoonebeker sheep. Further influence from Friesian Milk sheep and Texel’s resulted in the current Zwartbles breed known today. A Dutch Zwartbles flock book was formed in 1985 and the first Zwartbles were imported to the UK a year later. In 1995 the Zwartbles Sheep Association was established and popularity soared to about 700 active registered flocks in the UK and Ireland with 12,500 registered animals in 2014 (source ZSA).


Attributes The ewe's excellent maternal qualities, being prolific and milky, combined with the demand for quick growing lambs and lean, quality meat has increased its presence in commercial flocks. The friendly and inquisitive nature of Zwartbles makes them one of the easiest breeds to manage. Their striking appearance ensures they are a favourite in the show ring and their quiet temperament is ideal for children in young handler classes. They can easily be trained to follow a bucket and even large numbers can be moved without the assistance of a dog. The breed's many attributes means they are a familiar sight on smallholdings and the perfect complimentary grazing partner to horses.



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