Spælsau (sheep)

Spælsau (sheep)

The Spælsau (Old Norwegian Short Tail Landrace) is a breed of sheep from Norway. Many consider Spelsau to be the original breed of sheep in Norway. It is well adapted to the climate and was a domestic animal from the Iron Age. The spelsau stock makes up about 20% of the total number of sheep in Norway.

Characteristics

Originally it is compact and lightly built and does not need much concentrated food. The meat has relatively little fat. The Spelsau gives rich milk, sticks well together in the flock and manages well outdoors most of the year. But it is vulnerable to eye disease caused by eating the plant Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum).

Uses

It gives milk and meat of good qualiy. The wool is characterised through having two layers: An outer longhaired, glossy undulating layer of wool protecting the underlying layer against wind and rain, and an underlying layer which keeps the sheep warm. The long, protective wool which is used for weaving is traditionally spun into two-strand, tightly-spun yarn, instead of the usual three-strand type, resulting in a beautiful lustre. This spelsau yarn was used in the Norwegian old tapestries from the renaissance and baroque times. The Viking ship sails were made from spelsau yarn. The wool was also in the old days used in clothing because it was light, stable and absorbed little moisture.

References

Tho. B. Kielland: Norsk Billedvev (Fortids kunst i norske bygder).

Lindholt Data.

Bondevennen nr 27/28 - 12 juli 2002.

See also

Wool

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