Origin and diversity of North European sheep breeds
Norwegian Spael sheep, (22)
Spael sheep is named after the short, nearly wool-less tail (spælen).
The breed originates from the old Norwegian landrace of sheep. Around
1900 there were only few animals left of the breed due to the widespread
crossbreeding with imported breeds throughout the country. Two breeding
stations were established in 1912 to prevent the extinction of breed.
These efforts were successful and the breed increased in numbers due to
distribution of breeding animals from the stations. The breed is hardy
with good flocking instincts. The ewes lamb easily and are good mothers.
Icelandic sheep were crossed into the Spael sheep throught semen import
in the 1960's and 1970's. This made the Spael sheep considerably heavier in a few
years, but had negative influence on the wool quality. At the same
time both Finnsheep and Faeroe Island sheep were also used in the breeding
of Spael sheep. The sheep are most commonly white, but there are also
black, brown, grey and blue-grey animals and various forms of piebald
are found. Most animals are polled, with about 10 % occurrence of horned
in both sexes. The wool is double coated, with mean fibre diameter 31.5
micron of underwool and 57.1 micron of outer hair. The wool is used
for many different products and woolskins and nappa leather are made
out of the pelts. Adult wither height of rams is 90 cm and live weight
of ewes is 65-70 kg. The mean litter size is 1.87 lambs born and 1.49
weaned. Mean carcass weight of lambs is 17.1 kg when slaughtered at
the age of 6 months. The carcasses fall mainly into grades O and P in
the EUROP classification system. The population is stable around 53,000
breeding ewes, most of them bred pure.
Local name: Spælsau