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Mini Harlequin Sheep Were “Made In America”
American Miniature Harlequin Sheep, developed by the late Kathleen Sterling from Virginia in the 1980’s, can now be tracked by registry. For the past 10 years, Hope Bennett of Paradise Farm in Georgia, along with her associate Shauna Smith, has been registering all sheep bred from Sterling’s Black Sheep Farm. “This young breed could have easily fallen apart without the registry work, and all the years of breeding would be lost,” says Smith. “It’s an important source of accountablility.”
  There are currently about 600 sheep on the registry that meet the American Miniature Harlequin Sheep requirements. About 15 of them are American Purebreds and Bennett says their goal is to reach 200 purebreds in the next five years and then close the registry to foundation-level sheep.
   American Miniature Harlequins are small to medium in size with soft, multi-colored medium wool. They’re very even-tempered sheep and can produce two litters a year, especially in cooler weather. They are polled, have a distinct black/brown and white spot pattern and carry the gene for blue eyes.
  “Raising Harlequin sheep is similar to raising other breeds, and they’re gaining in popularity,” says Smith. “Yearling breeding lambs can bring from $600 to $1,500, depending on their generation, blood line and coloring.”
  Harlequin sheep produce rich, multi-colored wool. They’re excellent 4-H project animals, although there aren’t many show rings that include their category. Smith says the breed can currently be found in about half of the typical U.S. sheep production areas.
  “Kathleen Sterling kept amazing records while creating this breed and we owe it to her to keep this breed growing,” says Smith.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Hope Bennett, Miniature Harlequin Sheep Registry, P.O. Box 2237, Cleveland, Ga. 30528 (ph 706 348-7279; www.harlequinsheep.info; registry@minilivestock.com.)

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2