The Wiltshire Horn is an ancient breed whose population has ranged from “incredible” numbers on the Wiltshire Downs in the 1700’s to
a few thousand when the UK all but abandoned their meat breeds in favor
of big profits from wool. Now that most wool has so little value
that it doesn’t cover the cost of shearing. The Wiltshire Horn is
again increasing in numbers.
The old Wiltshire were the largest of the fine wooled sheep
of England. They had big horned heads, long heavy-boned legs and
occasionally attained great weight. In England and later in the
American colonies, these big sheep ranged over a large area during
the day and were returned to the grain fields at night to fertilize
1800: The first classes for Wiltshire were offered
at shows in England.
1892: “Special Report on the History and Present
Condition of the Sheep industry in the U.S.” was published by the
U.S. Government Printing Office with information and a full page
picture of a Wiltshire Horn.
1900: Small herds were kept mostly to raise rams
for cross breeding as terminal sires.
1951: The first Wiltshire Horn arrived in Australia.
1966: The Wiltshire Horn was the featured breed
at the Royal Show in Victoria.
2005: The Wiltshire Horn is now the third most
numerous registered UK breed in Australia.
1975: Michael Piel, who was developing his Katahdin
breed imported Wiltshire Horns from Iolo Owens’ herd in Wales to
increase size and meat conformation in the Katahdin. There after
the pure Wiltshire Horn were dispersed to other farms.
1994: Fairmeadow acquired a few Wiltshire Horns
and later most of Dick Fulton’s herd also came to Fairmeadow in
Florida. In 1995, the first lambs from frozen semen from New Zealand
were born at Fairmeadow. They were sired by “Meadowvale Winston”
and “Meadowvale Valor.”
2003: Ten Wiltshire Horn Rams and two Willipole
(polled Wiltshire) arrived at Fairmeadow from Australia. These rams
were chosen by Australian breeders for me based on their lamb plan
scores and to provide bloodlines which are as diverse as possible.
2008: I will be 75 years old and I plan to disperse
the entire Wiltshire Horn herd to breeders who will carry on these
bloodlines. By then, I will have done my bit for the Wiltshire Horn.