Leicester sheep (lĕsˈtər) [key], breed of sheep originated from native stock as mutton producers in Leicestershire, England, by the English livestock breeder Robert Bakewell (c.1755). English Leicesters have white faces and legs, broad backs, and thick flesh. They mature early and have heavy fleeces, the wool hanging in compact locks. Offspring of a cross of Merino ewes and English Leicester rams provide some of the choicest of all wools. The Border Leicester strain was developed in the border counties of England and Scotland by crossbreeding English Leicesters and Cheviots. Their heads are free of wool, their bodies square, and their carriage alert. Leicesters were first brought to the United States in colonial times and are bred in small numbers in parts of the N United States. In Canada Border Leicesters are more common than the English.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.