The history of the Zwartbles as a sheep breed starts in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It is thought that the Zwartbles breed is descended from a relatively large breed of sheep called the Schoonebeker which grazed the heathlands of North East Holland. It gets its name from a place called Schoonebeek in the province of Drenthe.
By the mid 1970s they were entered into the Dutch Rare Breed Survival Trust. In 1985 a Flock Book was formed, and numbers have steadily increased since.
Zwartbles are elegant, tall black sheep with a distinctive white blaze from poll to the muzzle, two to four short white socks and white-tipped tails. Zwartbles are triple-purpose, providing meat and milk with the addition of a very fine thick brown-black fleece with lots of crimp.
Zwartbles fleece is medium to fine with excellant crimp along the length of fibre. It’s dense black to chocolate brown with sunbleached tips. There can be fine silver hairs dispersed throughout the wool which gives a lustre appearance but it is not a lustre fleece. Older ewes have white hairs on their quarters but this is not kemp.
Their temperament is very friendly and they are easy to handle. Zwartbles became popular with smallholders because of their exceptionally fine wool, meat and milk.
Produced by Brackenbrae Zwartbles: http://www.brackenbrae.co.uk/
Zwartbles Sheep Association www.zwartbles.org: https://www.zwartbles.org/
Scottish Smallholder Festival: https://ssgf.uk/
Smallholding Scotland: https://smallholding.scot/
Supported by The Scottish Government and SRUC.
Scottish Government: https://www.gov.scot/