The Roslag sheep is a Swedish native breed and belongs to the Allmogefår group. They are also Sweden’s smallest sheep breed, and are mobile and extremely easily affectionate and tame. Like many other native breeds, Roslag sheep are hardy, efficient grazers, and like to eat brushwood.
Black or white
The sheep are black or white, although sometimes lambs are born with reddish-brown wool that fades to a creamy white as they grow older. The Roslag sheep’s wool is of the rya type, with a long straight or curly topcoat and undercoat.
About the Roslag sheepScientific name:
Ovis aries domesticusOrder:
Male (ram) 50 kg and female (ewe) 30–40 kgHeight at the withers:
Ewe 50–60 cm, ram slightly tallerBreeding season:
All year roundGestation:
5 monthsNumber of lambs:
Approx. 10 years
However, Roslag sheep tend not to be kept for their wool, as it can be of varying quality and is unsuitable for felting. The rams have horns, which often grow quite large, while the ewes are hornless, or ‘polled’.
History and conservation of Roslag sheep
Roslag sheep were once found on almost every farm in Roslagen. On one of the farms in northern Roslagen, documents show that there have been sheep there since the 18th century. In the summer, it was common for the sheep to be grazed on the islands of the Roslagen archipelago. In the 20th century, the focus shifted towards more productive breeds that produced more meat, and the old domestic farm sheep rapidly disappeared. Eventually there was only one herd of Roslag sheep left, owned by Maj and Henry Jansson on the island of Raggarön in northern Roslagen. These Roslag sheep were rediscovered in the early 1990s, and work to preserve the breed began.
In order to preserve native breeds for the future, it is important to preserve the remaining genetic resources and to ensure that the Roslag sheep can continue to reproduce. Since 1997, Roslag sheep have therefore been preserved in a gene bank by the Swedish Local Sheep Breeds Association.
Native breeds are populations of domesticated animals that have lived for so long in the same area that they have adapted to the local environment and its specific conditions. Swedish native breeds have declined in number, but there is a growing focus on efforts to preserve them as they are an important genetic resource and part of our cultural heritage.
Find out more about Swedish native breeds.