Glistening Gotland

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
26 July, 2017 - 15:39 | Sonja Bargielowska

Here at Blacker Yarns we try not to have favourites amongst the sheep breeds, but Gotland sheep do have a rather special place in our hearts. Perhaps because they’re the sheep Sue Blacker herself keeps?

We’re really excited to be launching a brand new colour palette in our 100% Gotland DK yarn on August 9th, and thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about this very special breed in more detail.

Introducing our new BFL laceweight colour palette

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
5 July, 2017 - 14:01 | Sonja Bargielowska

The Bluefaced Leicester is a noble breed, originating from selective breeding in the early twentieth century by Robert Bakewell, specifically hand-picked for their “blue faces”, referring to their very dark blue, almost black skin. The sheep themselves are friendly in nature, while their Roman noses provide an air of aristocracy. 

Food for mums and babies: nutrition at lambing

Sue Blacker's picture
9 March, 2017 - 10:52 | Sue Blacker

Lambs double in size in the last month in the ewe, which is a real challenge to the ewe to keep up with this as well as the additional situation of less room inside!   So feeding more frequently, twice or even three times a day, will regulate intake better and make it more effective.   Insufficient food can lead to dead lambs, or ewes, or twin lamb disease, poor quality colostrum and lower milk production.  Too much concentrated food can reduce the pH in the rumen, so quality is as important as quantity, and forage is key, with concentrates as a supplement.   Added yeast has been shown to be useful in improving colostrum quality and reduces the build-up of lactic acid in the rumen, which helps increase milk yield and quality.

Creating a new yarn range: Samite

Sue Blacker's picture
4 March, 2017 - 10:55 | Sue Blacker

As many of our avid readers will know, we have been working on a new Blacker yarn range, being launched this month!   This is a permanent addition to our ranges, designed to complement the others, providing a further range of textures and fabrics, a luxurious feel and adding to our colour palettes.   The colour cards are available right away and the full launch is on 23rd March, 2017.

Sheep and Copper

20 June, 2016 - 13:30 | Lara Pollard-Jones

In my (Sue's) experience, the biggest single factor in health of sheep is the correct balance of minerals, which permits their immune systems to function optimally.  Thus for example, most sheep should not have much copper, though all need some, with downland and Texel sheep being particularly susceptible to copper poisoning, fine-woolled sheep intermediate, while Gotlands and Finnsheep are more tolerant than other breeds and indeed need a greater amount.

This is why it is important never to feed sheep with pig or poultry feed, which contains too much copper.  My sheep broke into the feed store and gorged themselves on pig food once and the greediest had the worst hangovers – luckily a vitamin injection was sufficient to get them back into a state of normality (as far as Gotlands are ever normal …).

Mules and Mashams

23 May, 2016 - 11:00 | Lara Pollard-Jones

Mules and Half Breds are the most common type of sheep in the country and make up a large majority of our commercial flocks.  They are good mothers and can carry twins, triplets or even quads!  They produce fast-growing, lively lambs which makes them perfect for the commercial meat market.  As well as this, some types of Mule also produce high-quality fleeces due to the rams that have been used as sires.

Teeswater x Dalesbred = Masham

Spotlight on Southdowns

25 April, 2016 - 09:06 | Lara Pollard-Jones


The Southdown sheep has been established in the UK for over two hundred years, but has been in its current ‘improved’ state since the 1800’s with the breed society being established in 1893.  The fibre can be as fine as 29 microns (comparable to Shetland in some cases) and has been used for knitwear for many years.

Portland Sheep and the Combined Flock Book

11 April, 2016 - 13:00 | Lara Pollard-Jones

A small flock of Portland sheep.  Image courtesy of BWMB.

When breeding any animal it is important to aim for correct and healthy offspring, but when breeding pedigree stock the breed standard is the first thing to be take into consideration. With some breeds, coloured sheep are not accepted into the breed registry and people are discouraged from breeding them; the same can be said for certain markings, as the resulting sheep is not true to type.  In breeds where there are large numbers, this is not a problem as sheep with undesirable characteristics can more easily be excluded from t

Sheep as Therapy

4 April, 2016 - 14:42 | Lara Pollard-Jones

An example of a well turned out Ryeland sheep.
Image courtesy of Hawthorns Ryelands.

Those local to us may have seen an article in the Western Morning News at the end of last month:  ‘Cornish care home helps to save rare breed sheep.’  While the Ryeland sheep in question aren’t any longer a rare breed (they were on the RBST survival list a few years ago, but have since grown in number so that they are no longer at risk) they certainly are working wonders with people with learning disabilities at HIghdowns Farm.


Lambs at last!

Sue Blacker's picture
4 April, 2016 - 13:35 | Sue Blacker

These were the first, who arrived on 29th March: their mum Sweetheart is a pure Blue-faced Leicester and they are crossed with Gotland rams - the one with the white blaze is a ram and the black one is a ewe.  Sweetheart is not very tame or friendly and was not looking fit to burst, so her lambs' arrival was a bit of a surprise.

Meanwhile the pure bred Gotlands were obviously waiting for better weather or until all of our Easter visitors had departed, disappointed not to see Gotland lambs ...



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