Finn (Finnsheep, Suomenlammas, Finnish Landrace)
Breed categories: medium wool, dual-purpose, short-tailed, prolific
Finn were brought to North America by way of Manitoba in 1966 and were first imported to the United States in 1968. Considered to be several hundred years old, Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace, as they are known in their native country of Finland are considered to be several hundred years old, descending from the Mouflon that live in the wild on Sardinia and Corsica and also said to be related to other Scandinavian short-tailed sheep.
The primary use of Finnsheep was the production of crossbred ewes. Finn ewes are hardy, will lamb on an accelerated lambing program, have strong maternal instincts, and are highly prolific. Lambs are noted for their high livability.
In the last 20 or so years, more research work and data has been compiled in the United States involving Finnsheep and their crosses than any other breed of sheep. In more recent years, Finnsheep have become valued for their soft fleeces of medium wool.
Finnsheep are not big sheep, but they do produces a lean, succulent meat with a light delicate flavor. The meat is sought after by many a gastronome. Quick to mature, the breed has a year round lambing ability, and is renowned as a prolific breed (a characteristic that lends the sheep to breeding for prolificacy). In fact, they to throw multiple births regularly and examples of eight and seven lambs at once are not uncommon. Finnsheep are excellent mothers with plentiful milk. And they are very friendly and well disposed with a great foraging instinct. The heads should be free of wool, and the body of the sheep should be straight and strong with strong legs that have wool only to the knees and hocks.
Rams should reach puberty by 4-8 months of age, must have two descended, well-developed testicles and should be aggressive breeders with a triplet or higher birth type favored. Mature rams in average condition will weigh 170 to 240 pounds. Ewes should lamb by 12 months of age, should have had a minimum of 5-6 lambs by two years of age, and 9-10 by 3 years when managed in an intensive year round breeding system. Also aggressive breeders, the ewes should have no difficulty in lambing, should exhibit outstanding maternal characteristics, and should produce adequate milk for at least two lambs and possess at least two well-formed, functional teats. Mature ewes in average condition will weight 130 to 180 pounds.
Most of the Finnsheep in the USA are pure white, but they are also available in black and black/white piebald (spotted) and are less commonly found in grey, brown and fawn. The wool has unmistakable luster and softness in shades from white through black. While the fleece is lightweight at 5-6 lb., it is highly praised by hand spinners as it blends easily with other fibers, has a long staple (3-6″), and a wool spinning count in the 50′s (24 to 31 microns). Fleece should be Single coated with soft hand and medium length. Uniformity and free of coarse britch and mattings. Many handspinners call it heavenly.