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Devon Closewool   EFABIS Data


International Name

Devon Closewool

Local Name

Devon Closewool


Devon and Somerset, Exmoor

Breeding females


4.159 approx

Trend of population size


Flock book established



Origin – history

The Devon Closewool Sheep originated in the late 19th Century from the crossing of the Exmoor ewe with the Devon Longwool ram as a first step in the stratification of sheep breeding, thus increasing the size of

the progeny and therefore the amount of saleable meet from sheep performing on better ground. The resulting cross held its type and conformation such that the Breed Society was formed in 1923, with the

original flocks dating back to 1894. A massive decline in numbers took place in 1960 however, with the move to a more environmentally friendly, less intensive style of farming, there is a resurgence of

interest in the native breeds.


 Breed description

The breed is white and hornless, with a white face and a very dense white fleece of medium staple and length.  It is very hardy and well adapted to the exposed uplands of the upland heaths.

The fleece, averaging about 3 Kg, is of good quality and very suitable to blend for a wide range of commercial uses.  The ewes weigh 55 – 60 Kg, with the rams up to 90 Kg.

Pure-bred lambs are readily able to fatten off grass and the ewes are excellent mothers with good milking qualities, able to produce excellent market quality lambs.

Ewes crossed with Blue Faced Leicester rams produce a Devon Closewool Mule or with a Suffolk or Texel to produce a quality cross-bred lambs for early finishing making good weights quickly, without the need for concentrate feeding.

Rams are valued for lending hardiness and 'substance' to other white faced breeds in improvement programmes. Half-breds from mating with Blueface Leicester, Border Leicester, Suffolk and Texel are popular for their ability to thrive in varied climates and farming systems, being durable and prolific.

The flock book was established in 1923.


Conservation activities


Working with the Exmoor National Park Sustainable Development Fund to improve the viability of the Breed by increasing the number of flocks, raising the profile of the breed and improving the sustainability of member’s business by better advertising, a fresh promotional programme, including a developing the web site, and good presentation and representation of the breed at a selection of national and county shows.    


Cryopreservation of semen NSP storage, 1.475 doses.


ContactDevon Close wool Sheep Breeders Society.

                Web site www.devonclosewool.co.uk

               Sec  Mr R F Y Smith, c/o Holton & Thomas, The Elms Office, Bishop Tawton,

              Barnstaple, Nth Devon, EX32 0SD


Action Heritage Sheep AGRI GEN RES 040 receives financial support from the European Commission, Genetic Resources in Agriculture, under European Commission Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 AGRI GEN RES 2006 HERITAGE SHEEP