About Shetland Sheep

Page Contents:  1927 Standard & Appendix A reprinted from NASSA Webpage
"Glossary of Terms" by Theresa Gygi
Description and Scale of Points Score - 100
Reproduced from the Shetland Flock Book Society
By-Laws & Regulations
Objects & Standard of the Society 1927
Adopted by NASSA 03/2000

9   General character and appearance   Horned or Hornless  
9   Head   Good width between ears, tapering rapidly to base of nose, which should be broad and with little taper to the muzzle, hollow between cheeks and nose well marked  
5   Face   Medium length of face from eyes to muzzle, nose prominent but not Roman, small mouth
3   Eyes   Full, bright, and active look
4   Ears   Fine, medium size, set well back, carried slightly above the horizontal
4   Neck    Full, tapers into a fairly broad chest
6   Shoulders   Well set, top level with back
5   Chest   Medium width and deep
9   Back   Level, with as much width as possible
4   Ribs   Well sprung and well ribbed up
5   Rump   Good width, with well tuned rounded hips
9   Tail   Fluke tail. Wool at root forming the broad rounded part, and tapering suddenly to barely covered fine point. This is a strong character, and any crossing is easily made out by it. Length varies according to the size of sheep, rarely exceeds six inches, or thereby
4   Legs of Mutton   Light, but very fine in quality
2   Skin   Varies according to colour of wool. In white no blue or black colouring
20   Wool   Extra fine and soft texture, longish, wavy, and well closed. Wool on forehead and poll tapering into neck, likewise wool on cheeks. Colours: white, black or brown , moorit (from reddish to fawn). Greys (including Sheila). Other known colours - Mirkface (brownish spots on face); Catmogit (dark under parts from muzzle to tail and legs), Burrit (light underparts); also Blaegit, Fleckit, and Sholmit 
2   Carriage   Alert and nimble, with a smart active gait

(a) Long heavy tail, broad to point
(b) Bad wool, coarse and open
(c) Very coarse wool on breeches
(d) Deformities of jaws
(e) Undersized animals
(f) Defective coloured or badly shaped animals as sires
(g) White hairs in moorit and black, and dark hairs in white wool

Note: The 1927 Shetland Flock Book Society standard was developed for the original inspection of sheep for registration by the Society. The standard includes seven specific faults that were considered serious enough to disqualify sheep from registrations. While these disqualifications are still part of the Standard, NASSA does not have an inspection system and does not disqualify purebred Shetland sheep from registration. However, NASSA recommends that breeders take into consideration these disqualification faults when evaluating Shetland sheep for breeding purposes and for registration.

Note also that the Shetland Flock Book Society no longer exists having been succeeded by the Shetland Flock Book Trust.


Description and scale of points explanatory note.
All sections in normal (nonitalic) type constitute the 1927 Breed Standard.
All sections in italic type comprise the Explanatory Notes provided as an aid to clarity for Breeders, Inspectors and Judges.
These Explanatory Notes were prepared by a subcommittee of the SSS set up with the approval of the 1999
AGM. Part of the subcommittee's remit, recorded in the minutes of the May 2000 Committee Meeting, was to 'look into the possibility of clarifying the 1927 Breed Standard'. The subcommittee produced a series of notes to be read in conjunction with the relevant points in the Breed Standard. These were unanimously accepted and endorsed by the full Committee.

This appendix was unanimously adopted by NASSA as a description and clarification of the 1927 Breed standard, on November 09, 2009.

HORNS.  Should state that both 'round in section' and angular are acceptable.
REASON  For clarification. The Standard does not indicate a preference and early photographs of Shetland Sheep examined by the Committee show both.
SHOULD ALSO STATE that polled rams and horned females are acceptable.
REASON  For clarification. There are early recorded observations which refer to both, i.e. 'Shetland Sheep' as published in 'The Field' on 10/3/1927 and a very good photograph of a polled ram published in the book Farm Livestock of Great Britain' before 1927.
SHOULD ALSO STATE that the horns of a ram should rise in a curve above the head and then spiral round according to age.
REASON  The rise of the horn is an important distinguishing feature of the Shetland Sheep. Described in The Field' on 10/3/1927.

HEAD Good width between ears, tapering rapidly to base of nose, which should be broad and with little
taper to muzzle, hollow between cheeks and nose well marked.
Basically clear as written, but the subCommittee highlighted that the reference to 'well marked'
referred to the hollow between the 'cheeks and nose' being clearly distinguishable.

FACE Medium length of face from eyes to muzzle, nose prominent but not roman, small mouth.
Reference to a 'small mouth' means not large lipped, droopy or pouty lipped, with a mouth in
proportion to the size and shape of the face, with a proper taper reducing down to a small mouth.
REASON  For clarification. If 'small' mouths were bred for as a Shetland characteristic, it would result in overshot mouths. Probably originally highlighted to distinguish this feature from other breeds such as the Cheviot or Suffolk

EYES Full, bright and active look.
Clear as written but should be expanded to say 'ideally slightly bulbous '.

EARS Fine, medium size, well set back, carried slightly above the horizontal.
Clear as written.

NECK  Full, tapers into a fairly broad chest.
Should state that a Shetland has to have a clearly defined neck.
REASON  See below in conjunction with shoulders.

SHOULDERS  Well set, top level with back.
Needs considerable clarification.
REASON  A sheep must have withers to enable it to move freely. 'Well set' means not too narrow, but set properly between neck and back, showing a promontory (slight hump) thus defining the neck which would otherwise be lost in the back. It also means that the shoulder blades should slope from the front towards the back, not traight up.

CHEST  Medium width and deep.
'medium' means medium in proportion to the size and conformation of the sheep.

BACK  Level, with as much width as possible.
Clear as written, but could be annoted that 'level' means parallel with the ground, and that the width of the pin bones determines the width of the sheep.

RIBS  Well sprung and well ribbed up.
Should be clarified by changing to 'well sprung from back around side' with a simple illustration of the right and wrong shape.
REASON As written is saying the same thing twice, and not with much clarity.

RUMP   Good width, with well tuned rounded hips.
Clear as written.

TAIL  Fluke tail. Wool at root forming the broad rounded part, and tapering suddenly to barely covered fine
point. This is a strong character, and any crossing is easily made out by it. Length varies according to the size
of sheep, rarely exceeds six inches, or thereby.
Clear as written, but 'thereby' should be replaced by 'thereabouts', and the description expanded
by stating that the tip of the tail should be covered with hair, not wool, and should preferably be flat, not round or plump.  A good tail seems to fit tight into the fleece on the rump as compared with the fat long tail of many breeds.

LEGS OF MUTTON  Light, but very fine in quality.
This term has nothing to do with the legs from the hock down, but is clear in the context of the
quality of the 'leg of lamb' in modern terms.  As far as the lower legs are concerned, in general terms they should be light boned and free from wool below the hock in the adult sheep. Viewed from behind, the rear legs should be perpendicular from the hock to the pastern, and should be wider apart than the fore legs. The pastern should have a medium slope, and show no signs of weakness. Feet should be well shaped and small in proportion to the size of the sheep.  Reference to early photographs illustrate this latter point clearly.

SKIN  Varies according to color of wool. In white no blue or black coloring.
Clear as written

WOOL Extra fine and soft texture, longish, wavy and well closed. Wool on forehead and poll
tapering into neck, likewise wool on cheeks.
Colours: White, Black or Brown, Maorit (from reddish to fawn), Greys (including Sheila). Other known
colours: Mirkface (brownish spots on face), Catmogit (black underparts from muzzle to tail and legs), Burrit
(light underparts); also Blaegit, Fleckit and Sholmit.
Should be clarified and expanded as follows: 
Longish probably means 3” to 5" in full fleece, Certainly no Shetland should have a staple of 7 ". 'The Field' 10/3/1927.  'Well closed': of medium density.  'Wool on forehead and poll, likewise wool on cheeks' to be clarified as 'not in excess', Reference to early photographs illustrates this clearly. There should be no frill. 'The Field' 10/3/1927.  'Wavy' means what we now term as crimp. The Universal Dictionary defines crimp as 'the natural curliness of wool fibres'.
A good description could read as follows:
Wool   Extra fine and soft above all else. Crimped, of medium density and (length) 3 to 5 inches in full fleece.  Breeches having coarser/longer wool but not extending into thighs. Wool, not in excess, present on poll and cheeks.
We should also note that the colours listed in the Standard are not exhaustive.

CARRIAGE Alert and nimble with a smart active gait.
Clear as written.

Glossary of Terms
by Theresa Gygi of Under The Son Farm 
Many thanks to Theresa for letting me post her work on this page.

Flockbook - this is a term that is used to describe native sheep of Shetland that fit the Shetland breed standard according to those who are in the Shetland Flock Book Trust (formerly the Shetland Flock Book Society). This group put together the Shetland breed standard in 1927 and today many of the crofters that are involved with it have had Shetland sheep in their families for many generations, even before the time of the standard.
Flockbook sheep, at least the rams, must pass inspection to be included within the recorded flockbook. The sheep are examined by breeder owners and the sheep must fit the breed standard criteria. Flockbook sheep have been improved upon over many generations so that they epitomize, to the Shetland crofter, what a true Shetland sheep should be according to the breed standard. The crofters emphasize good meat to bone ratio in their sheep with a fine soft fleece with improved uniformity. According to Oliver Henry's wool classing standards, the flockbook Shetland sheep wool generally falls in the superfine, fine, and good categories. The term single coat is generally used of these Shetlands.

Non-Flockbook - is a term that is used to describe native sheep of Shetland that are not registered in the flockbook. These sheep are generally crossbred somewhere in their history as Shetland is well known for crossbred sheep.

Modern - is a term that was used/coined by George Benedict several years ago to describe Shetland sheep of Shetland that fit a defined set of parameters that included a highly uniform fleece and a slightly meatier carcass than Shetlands that are termed "classic". These sheep fit the breed standard very well with fine bone and good breed character and epitomize what can be done with the Shetland breed in terms of preserving sheep specifically set out to be bred for the standard. These are also called Flockbook Shetlands.

Classic - is also a term used by George Benedict to describe Shetland sheep that also fit the breed standard but can be slightly finer boned than the modern Shetland. The wool can be slightly less uniform with a bit more tip to the wool but also still epitomizing a good Shetland sheep. These sheep are more in line with what the Shetland Sheep Society (former the Shetland Sheep Breeders Group) of the United Kingdom have a vision of. These sheep are inspected voluntarily against the breed standard, along with in-depth ram and ewe assessment sheets that expand upon the breed standard. These inspections are done by Shetland breeder judges.
It must be understood that both the modern and classic Shetland are at once very similar but slightly different in look. They would both be understood to be the same breed of sheep.
A classic Shetland would be best described as being as single coated and is according to the breed standard as clarified by Appendix A. According to the terms used here, intermediates may also be included within this definition, as long as they are not exaggerated in tip length or fleece length. True double coats, with an outer hair coat, do not fit this description.

Appendix A - a document that was put together by a committee of the SSS in 1999 in conjunction with the SFBT members, and original documentation, in order to clarify the 1927 Shetland breed standard because of the outdated language that is found within the standard. Appendix A spells out in greater detail what a breed standard Shetland is.

American - is a new term that is used to describe Shetland sheep in America that do not fall under any of the following terms: Flockbook, Modern, Classic, Single coat. The definition is, at this point, very vague and without any parameters. It is used, so far, to describe NASSA registered Shetlands with double coats.

Dailley - The term Dailley is in reference to the original importation of the 28 ewes and 4 rams flockbook inspected Shetlands in 1980 by Colonel Dailley in Ontario Canada. These sheep were in quarantine their entire lives and only progeny from them could leave the farm, after the first 5 years. All domestic Shetlands, other than the Flett flock, are descended from the Dailley flock.

Flett - The term Flett is in reference to a small flock of moorit Shetland sheep that were imported to Canada in 1948. This flock was a closed flock for many decades before it was dispersed. Flett genetics can be found today in several flocks.

UK - stands for United Kingdom, i.e. England and Scotland. The term is used to describe genetics that have been imported to the US and Canada since the 1990's from England and Scotland to improve the genetic base of the North American flock. It is also used to describe a "type" of sheep, generally what is referred to as the term classic.

Foula - are sheep on the island of Foula that consist of a Shetland type of sheep. They are a landrace breed, and very little is done in the way of selective breeding. This breed now has its own breed description, similar to but different than the Shetland Standard.
In the Shetland sheep world, there are many terms that have been used over the centuries to describe fleece characteristics. In order to understand exactly what the terms historically refer to, a listing has been put together that has been gleaned from as much historical and current documentation as possible. It must be remembered that the standard was written to preserve the native sheep of Shetland that displayed the characteristics written in the standard. It was not written to preserve native sheep that were outside the standard. The economy of the Shetland Isles rested on the sheep and fishing and therefore the standard was written to preserve the extra fine wooled native sheep as they were in danger of being lost forever to crossbreeding.

More Glossary Terms by Theresa Gygi
The Shetland breed standard describes fleece as follows:
Extra fine and soft texture, longish, wavy, and well closed.

Beaver - this is in reference to a type of fleece many Shetlands had and is described in literature starting around the late 1700's. The word invokes a picture of what the animal, the beaver, has for a fur coat. A real beaver has two coats, one very soft inner coat and a very coarse hairy outer coat. In making beaver fur coats or hats, the coarse outer coat was plucked out of the hides so that only the inner coat remained. A beaver coated Shetland then historically meant that the sheep had a very soft inner wool coat and a coarse hairy outer coat. This outer hairy coat was not shed when the animal rooed its wool in the spring and was left to be shed later in the year when the wool grew back. This type of fleece was being bred out, according to the literature, starting around 1850 to around 1900 as it was undesirable. It is still seen in some of today's sheep by the hair that makes a frill or lion's mane around a sheep's neck. It sometimes even goes down the back of the sheep. It has been observed that if a sheep has scadder (see Scadder) that the scadder gets a bit more prevalent as the sheep gets older. This is not the same as a primitive/double coated fleece and scadder can be found in single coated Shetlands too.
In the UK and Shetland Isles, beaver fleeces are used to describe what North Americans refer to as primitive/double coated fleeces so there is much confusion in terms.

Primitive - this term is used to describe two different things. Primitive, in relation to the breed in general, refers to the state that Shetlands are in as to progress of genes. There are many different genes in even a small population of Shetland sheep, as compared to a highly developed commercial sheep breed like a Suffolk, Hampshire, or Merino. These commercial breeds are developed to look like factory produced items - all the same or very similar in phenotype and genotype. Shetlands, for the most part, are not genetically similar, unless they are in an inbred or highly linebred flock, and will produce throwbacks and different types of look in the next generation, even if both parents are very similar in appearance. Primitive in the sheep world is indicative of thriftiness, hardiness, mothering ability, and many other characteristics as well. The Shetland is a primitive breed of sheep in that sense of the word, but still is a standardized breed (having a breed standard).
Primitive is also used to wrongly describe a certain fleece type. This refers to a long tipped, long staple length fleece. This is a double coated fleece, not a primitive fleece, as both single coats and double coats are "primitive", i.e. they are both fleeces that were indicative of the native sheep of Shetland several hundred years ago. It normally is used to loosely describe a long flowing fleece type. See dual/double coat.

Intermediate - this term loosely describes fleece that ranges anywhere from 4-7" and can be best thought of as having a tip that is longer than an inch to differentiate between a single coat. It is basically a dual/double coat. See dual/double coat.

Single coat - this term describes a fleece that is generally between 2-6" in length. This fleece has a small tip on the end of their lock structures to shed water. The tip on a single coated Shetland is usually less than an inch with the best fleeces being between 1/8 - 1/2" long. The average length of fleece in the documentation is around 3 1/2". Single coats are usually wavy/crimpy to very crimpy and should be fine and silky soft. The fibers are usually closer together in micron count than a double coat fleece and the histogram will appear to be one sharp peak. The standard deviation is low, usually under 6, with a spinning count that is the same or finer than the average fiber diameter. This is the fleece that is described in Appendix A. Coarse, Cheviot-like wool or an open fleece should be discouraged in breeding and are not breed standard.

Dual/Double coat - wool that consists of an inner coat and an outer coat is referred to as a dual coat, with the micron counts of the two (or more) coats being significant enough to give a very broad peak or two or more distinct peaks on a histogram. In Shetlands, this range can be very great as in an inner coat of being an average of 20 microns and an outer coat being well over 30 microns. But an outer coat over 30 microns is deemed coarse and is non-standard. Or it can mean a very small range as an inner coat being an average of 22 microns and an outer coat being 25 microns. This would be nearly indistinguishable on a histogram, giving a broad peak, whereas the greater range will show two distinct peaks. The outer coat must be soft and fine, not coarse (over 30 microns). Length on a double coated fleece should not exceed 7" since Shetlands are not a long, coarse wooled breed. Crimp must also be present as a straight fleece is non-typical and non-standard and should be discouraged in breeding.

Scadder - this is referred to in beaver coated sheep and is the long, outer hair coat that sometimes forms a frill or mane around a sheep's head. It sometimes goes down the backline of a sheep. John Sinclair, in his memos in the late 1700's, referred to these as "stickel" hairs. It has to be pulled out by hand as it is a hair fiber, not a wool fiber. It can be found in any fleece length or type. See Beaver and Kemp for more information.

Kindly - simply means soft. All Shetlands should be kindly. In the late 1700's, this term was used to differentiate between sheep with only wool fibers and sheep that had beaver hair coats. The term has been wrongly promoted in the NASSA handbook as being only a very short, soft downy type coat. Kindly is what all Shetland fleece should be. If a Shetland does not have a kindly fleece it would have a coarse fleece, which is non-standard.

Extra fine - is a term used both for fine micron and the quality of the wool, of which Shetlands should be both. Shetland wool is classed by international wool standards to have a range of 20-30 microns. Over 31 microns is coarse in the world of wool terms. Shetlands should not be in the coarse range as that is non-standard.
Extra fine is also used to refer to the spinning quality of Shetland wool. Shetland wool is and was highly prized as a wool for spinning, both for hand spinning and mill spinning. In times past, the wool sometimes had the "stickel" hairs of a beaver fleece and this did not allow some fleece to be used for mill spinning. The stickel hairs had to be pulled out by hand since the hair is so coarse and would have made the yarn useless for knitting. Therefore the Shetland was bred for fleece that did not display the beaver coats. Since Shetland fleece has been millspun since before 1880, and all Shetland wool (excepting the gossamer lace yarn), was spun in mills by the 1920's, this meant that Shetland wool was of a good mill quality type by the time the standard was written. The standard was then written for the sheep that displayed these qualities and to preserve the native sheep of Shetland.
Extra fine, in reference to the quality of the wool, could have also referred to the fact that good Shetland wool tends to spin finer than it actually feels. This would mean that the standard deviation was so low that the spin fineness was lower than the actual average fiber diameter, meaning a fleece that displayed single coatedness. See Single coat.

Soft - refers to the handle or feel of a fleece. It is a subjective term but most consider this to mean a fleece that does not prickle bare skin (as in over 30 microns), nor does it feel coarse and crunchy (as in a fleece composed of small but tall scales - see silky). The softness of a Shetland fleece can range from a lamb's fleece or neck wool that feels almost like cashmere with a very fine micron and silkiness, to a fleece that is cushy, yet bouncy and a bit of silkiness with a micron in the higher 20's. This range allows for what Shetland wool was historically used for, from fine cobweb lace shawls, to everyday hap shawls and sweaters, to stockings fit for kings and socks for the commoner. Shetland fleece should never be so coarse though as to be considered composed of steel wool. This is non-standard wool.

Longish - in the time when the standard was written, the term longish was made in comparison to the breeds located in the UK. Many breeds, such as the Lincoln and Merino, were there to compare to for fleece length. A long fleece indicated a fleece length typically found on a Lincoln and was over 6/7". A short fleece was more along the lines of a Down breed or a Merino and was usually around 2-3". Therefore the term longish was used to describe a Shetland fleece in the breed standard. This means, by the Appendix A clarification to the standard, a fleece length between 2-6/7" (A tighter range would be 3-5").

Silky - also refers to the handle or feel of a fleece. Silky obviously refers to silk, and invokes a smooth, slick, cool feeling fiber. Silkiness is due in part to how the scales on a fiber are made up. The scale height on a fiber can be tall or short and the scales can be large or small. A picture of a smooth tile floor (large tiles, low height) vs. a bumpy, brick cobblestone walk (small bricks, tall height) is the best picture to use to differentiate between a silky fleece and a crisp fleece. Shetland wool should be silky and not too crisp (scaley, medium to medium-large diameter fibers) as in a Cheviot fleece nor coarse feeling (smooth but large diameter fibers) as in a Lincoln.

Wavy - this term historically meant crimpy when the standard was written. A good example of wavy is seen in the Shetland Then and Now DVD where an early 1900's picture of a wavy staple shows a highly crimped Merino fleece. Wavy is also used to describe fleece today that does not have many crimps per inch, usually less than 6/inch.

Crimpy - refers to the waves of a staple or lock of wool. A crimpy Shetland fleece is composed of more than 5-6 crimps/inch. Crimp can be helical or wavy in type. Helical crimp is usually silkier than wave type of crimp because of the way the fiber grows. Crimp is loosely correlated to the relative softness of a fleece, i.e. the crimpier the fleece usually the softer the fleece. See the book, Shetland's Native Domestic Animals, by Dr. Stanley Bowie.

Tip - all Shetlands should display a tip on the end of their locks. The tip is where the differentiation comes between the inner and outer coats of a Shetland fleece. The tip in a dual coated breed is there to shed water. Blocky staples, locks that display a very uniform length of fleece, do not shed water as easily as a fleece with a small tip and are prone to fleece rot in very fine wooled breeds in wet climates. This usually happens in breeds such as Merinos as their wool is very fine and extremely dense. The Shetland Isles are rainy and windy therefore the sheep that do the best there have a tip on the end of their locks to shed water.
On the other hand, a fleece with a very long tip and long fiber causes a sheep to be caught and tangled in the heather and heath, threatening the life of the sheep and therefore was not found in Shetland sheep originally.

Lashy - this is a term that describes a long tip on a fleece. Oliver Henry, the Jamison and Smith Shetland wool classer, lumps these types of fleece in with the crossbred fleeces, like the Scottish Blackface. Lashy fleeces tend to be very coarse for the outer coat and should be not promoted in the breeding of Shetland sheep nor in the show ring. Though these fleeces can be silky soft and composed of fine fibers, this is not a typical breed standard fleece as many are composed of straight outer fibers. Coarse, lashy fleeces should be highly discouraged in breeding.

Dense - refers to, when you grab a handful, you feel a lot of fleece. There should be no skin seen on a sheep that is dense when the wind blows. Density in a fleece has nothing to do with fleece type (double coated, or single) but is the number of fibers per inch. A dense single coated Shetland is just as warm as a dense double coat and vice versa. A dense fleece is the opposite of an open fleece. Coarse fleeces can give the wrong impression of density though. A Shetland should have a dense, soft fleece. It should be a fleece composed of a lot of fine fibers. A Shetland fleece should not have coarse outer fibers with few soft inner fibers. This is considered an open fleece and is disqualifiable under the Shetland breed standard.

Open - is a disqualification for fleece in the Shetland breed standard. It refers to a fleece that has few fibers per inch and when the wind blows and parts the fleece, skin is easily seen. There isn't much to the fleece when a handful is grabbed. Any fleece type can be open and an open fleece can be either coarse or soft. See dense for more explanation.

Uniform - means two things. The most common definition is used to describe a fleece has similar or little variance in micron counts in the neck, mid-side, and rump area. It is also used to describe the micron count along a staple length from the skin level to the tip end. Shetlands do not have to have uniformity in their fleece and historically have not been uniform though there are Shetlands that are more uniform than others as certain lines have been bred for 50-100 years to produce more uniformity of fleece. It has been documented that Shetlands range from below 20 microns for the average for the neck, to around 23 microns for the mid-side, to the low 30's for the britch.

Britch - this refers to the lower back leg fleece area. Typically, the britch fleece is in the low to mid-30's micron count. Bad britch is a disqualification in the breed standard for Shetlands and refers to an very coarse britch. The best description used for the britch area is 'no more than a handful'.

Well closed - refers to either denseness and/or the locks forming a tip, a closed staple. This term is the most unclear one found in the historically documentation.

Kemp - is a short hair fiber around an inch in length, usually white, that is sometimes found in wool. A few breeds have kemp as either an exception or rule, most others, like Shetlands, should not have kemp. Kemp is also described by Yocum McColl fiber testing laboratory, as a fiber having over 60% medulation (hollowness). This would mean that the fiber is over 30 microns and could be of any length.

Coarse - is considered to be over 31 microns by wool standards. Coarse wool is a disqualification in the Shetland breed standard. Very coarse wool, is defined as over 40 microns for wool,and is considered a disqualification if it is on the breeches (britch wool) and especially if it is on more than the britch area. See also Kemp for further description.

Roo - is the natural wool break occurring in late winter to early summer in many Shetlands. Some fleeces roo with a clean enough break to be easily pulled off by hand. This is a primitive breed characteristic traditional of Shetlands and leaves both ends of the staple with a smooth transition for spinning.