Modern-day Cotswolds were developed between 1780 and 1820 in the Cotswold Hills of England, and may have origins among the sheep brought by the Romans as much as 2,000 years earlier. They were imported to the United States during the late 1700s and early 1800s. This breed was originally used for its ability to produce long clips of wool while grazing.
Cotswolds have large, slow-growing lambs, which can limit their use in traditional lambing operations. To solve this, they are often crossed with fine-wool breeds to produce lambs suitable for meat or wool production. Demand for purebred Cotswold sheep declined in the mid-20th century, , leaving them a rare breed. Recently, however, the breed has seen a resurgence of interest among wool crafters, who prize the Cotswold wool for hand-spinning.
Cotswolds have a fleece with an average length of 10 to 13 inches, weighing up to 15 pounds. Their wool hangs in locks from their body and covers their upper legs and head, with a long forelock that hangs over their face. Most are completely white, and registration of black sheep has only been permitted recently. Mature sheep weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, and the breed’s temperament is generally docile.
Tony and Ann Kaminski of Breakloose Farm in Maryalnd and Christine Crossman of Ewetopia Farm in New York are two dedicated Cotswold breeders that have helped SVF conserve these gentle giants. Both farms maintain purebred flocks of Cotswold sheep and have sought to create niche markets for wool and fiber products.