The following sheep were used to develop the Harlequin breed by Kathleen Sterling of Black Sheep Farm: Karakul, Tunis, Corriedale, Lincoln, Border Leicester, Romney, Montedale, Coopworth, Finn-Rambouillet, and Southdown rams.
Ms. Sterling had two primary goals: To produce a sheep breed with the size and conformation of the Southdown breeds (miniature and standard) with fleece that is varied in color, texture, length and staple.
Approximately fifteen years ago the flock was closed having reached it's goal for building the foundation flock.
When born, most Harlequins are black and white. As they mature, the some of the black fades to a rich cocoa brown. They also often mature into a spot pattern that is white, off-white to cream color, black and brown.
Harlequins have a wool similar to that of the Southdown Babydoll. When wool is processed together the colors blend to a light gray.
Harlequins have slick faces, ears and legs.
Specifics about the wool characteristics can be read on the Babydoll page by clicking HERE
Watching trends is a past time for us and when we first came across the Harlequin breed, we felt we had found a relatively new miniature breed that was destined for great things.
From our Babydolls, we knew that people like miniatures. Generally speaking our customers fall into two broad categories: young families and grandparents.
Both need a compact, friendly form of livestock that is easy to tame and easy to handle. Harlequins meet those needs.
When we bought our first Harlequin sheep I was told that they were very different from Babydolls. It took about six months to understand what that meant. As time went by we are amazed at how athletic and agile they are; often seen springing upward into the air to demonstrate their joy at just being.
"Harleys" are fun-loving and very inquisitive - almost like a goat. That's why our registry, the Harlequin Sheep Society & Registry (HSSR) refers to them as the "fun" mini sheep.
Like Babydolls, Harlequins are good mothers and also have mutliples when mature, twins and sometimes triplets.
They are usually able to care for all offspring by themselves.
Unlike Babydolls, Harlequins can breed twice a year although at Six Wags, we breed only once a year to ensure our ewes are not stressed by being bred too often, or too early.