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Cruisin’ With Lincolns!

Lustrous Fleece, Luscious Meat

By Pat and Craig Taylor

Cold Comfort Farm

371 Pasture Lane

Murphysboro, IL 62966

(618) 684-4401


We have raised Lincoln sheep since 1980 (12 years in cool, wet Western Washington, and now 12 years in hot, humid Southern Illinois).

One of Pat's Lincoln ewes, Mocca, with quads she raised by herself.
One of Pat’s Lincoln ewes, Mocca, with quads she raised by herself.

Lincolns are a large, longwool and luster breed with very mild tasting meat.

Both white and natural colored lambs can be registered.

It is an old breed, used in the past to increase wool weight in crossbreeding programs and create such breeds as the Columbia and the Corriedale.

Lincolns Pay, Rain Or Shine

In Washington, we raised Lincolns on five very steep acres of limited pasture, confined them to the barn or small paddocks in winter, and fed them alfalfa hay and grain year round.

Lincoln sires are big,  blocky and wooly.
Lincoln sires are big, blocky and wooly.

We flushed the ewes, bred them to lamb as yearlings, lambed inside in early February, bred for triplets and quadruplets, and checked the sheep several times at night during lambing.

We showed them open and 4-H, sold the lambs to be raised as backyard breeding or meat projects, and marketed our fleeces to local handspinners.

In 1992, we moved the flock to Southern Illinois, where we have increased our 15 ewes to 50. Our ewes are grazed year round on 40 rolling acres under a rotational grazing system. They are fed grain only six weeks before lamb Our Lincolns have done well for us under both of these very different management systems: Although they are better suited for cool, rainy weather, with their long open wool that sheds water and is resistant to rain rot, they have adapted to our hot, humid climate when provided with shade, a fan (for the rams), and night grazing during the worst heat. We have actually made more money under these conditions because we have been able to use controlled grazing to keep down the amount of bought feed.

Easy Keepers

We never check the sheep at night. We do not flush-preferring twins-and we expect all ewes, even the yearlings, to have their lambs up and nursing on their own.

Lincolns are non-flocking. These 4- to 5-month-old lambs are spreading out to graze the pasture.
Lincolns are non-flocking. These 4- to 5-month-old lambs are spreading out to graze the pasture.

Most of the lambs are raised mainly on grass and marketed as feeder lambs through the local lamb pool. Some are sold to individuals as breeding stock. Although we do not fatten many as market lambs, Lincolns fatten well on grain (although slower than meat lambs), usually finishing in eight months, producing a nice carcass of mild-flavored meat and a six-inch fleece, or nice curly pelt, depending on when you shear.

Lincolns are active foragers. They are a non-flocking breed; even the lambs will spread out in the pasture away from their moms at an early age. Like goats, Lincolns like to browse, and will stand on their hind legs to reach tree leaves. Although they work well with dogs, they are probably more controllable on fenced pasture than open range.

Shiny Lincoln locks of many colors (L to R): white, chocolate, 2 golden locks, tan, and silvery gray-from 6 to 10 inches long.
Shiny Lincoln locks of many colors (L to R): white, chocolate, 2 golden locks, tan, and silvery gray-from 6 to 10 inches long.

Lincoln Wool: Special Value

Our wool is marketed locally and through mail order as clean, washed locks to handspinners, doll crafters, and felters, and through our local wool pool. Wool sold to the specialty markets (if kept clean) brings the best prices, and is the most fun to sell. Commercially, white Lincoln wool brings less than Down or Fine Wools, and colored wool brings practically nothing. Colored wool not suitable for crafters is very useful as mulch around trees.

Good Natured

Lincolns have good temperaments; many are friendly and smart, making them excellent 4-H projects. Although I would not suggest trusting any ram, our Lincoln rams are calm and non-aggressive, perhaps because we run them as a group out of the breeding season, and cull any that are openly aggressive toward people. We also cull ewes that are flighty, aggressive, poor keepers on grass, and poor mothers, and we cull their offspring. We eat our younger culls, or sell them to the lamb pool. No cull is sold as breeding stock.

Health & Longevity

Big, long, blocky and healthy Lincoln ewes.
Big, long, blocky and healthy Lincoln ewes.

Lincolns are long lived. Our oldest ewe died at age 15, and produced lambs until she was 13.

Lincolns are a healthy breed. Under both conditions of cold rain and hot humidity our sheep have been free of foot rot.

But most of maintaining good health is a good health program. We closed our ewe flock in 1992, and retain some lambs each year as replacement ewes.

Lincolns are only moderately resistant to parasites, so we work with our vet on a worming program and cull sheep particularly susceptible to worms.

We cull for heat tolerance and overall health.

Sarah Taylor with a prize-winning Lincoln clipped for show.
Sarah Taylor with a prize-winning Lincoln clipped for show.

We practice a regular vaccination program, and quarantine any rams we buy for one month.

Since Lincolns are a minor breed it can be difficult finding unrelated bloodlines. Our ewes represent domestic bloodlines; bloodlines from Canada (Gardhouse and Paine); Why-Did lines from an imported ram from the Williams’ flock in New Zealand. To these we have added bloodlines from an AI ram from the Belton Farms in England, and most recently an AI ram from the Tattershall lines of the Miles Farm in New Zealand.

Our sheep are a work in progress. We always have wool for sale, and currently have a few nice ewe lambs and one nice ram lamb for sale.

We enjoy talking to people about Lincolns, which we consider a great versatile breed.

If you want to talk Lincolns, be sure to give Pat and Craig a call. They are very knowledgeable about this breed and sheep in general. I really enjoyed speaking with Pat, and learned a lot! -Ed.

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