Targhee – Year of the Sheep


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This story begins nearly a century ago, with researchers at the Experimental Sheep Station in Dubois, Idaho who had a vision for the ideal sheep and its wool.  This sheep would combine the most desirable wool qualities of softness and strength with a sheep that could survive and thrive in the Western United States range lands. Earlier attempts to product such a sheep resulted in the Columbia, but it was felt that a sheep with even finer wool could be produced. So the station started with a foundation stock of Rambouillet, Lincoln, and Corriedale crossbred ewes that were bred back to Rambouillet Rams. The sheep were named after the National Forest in Idaho where the first flocks roamed freely every summer. Targhee were developed under range conditions with strict selection based on production performance.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Targhee are a large sheep, bred to survive the open range. They are hornless with white faces, white wool and heavy fleeces. They are great mothers and have a high percentage of twins. Ashland Bay’s Targhee wool has been purchased from ranches in Western US ensuring that the wool is breed specific and helping sustain a market for these American wool producers. This is truly a 100% product of the US, from the development of the breed to the rearing, shearing, and the processing of the wool top.

Fleece Facts

Targhee produce a heavy, high quality wool fleece. The average fleece size ranges between 10 -22 lbs with  and average yeild of 45-55%. The average wool micron count is between 22-25 microns, giving this wool a wonderful next to skin softness and comfort. The average staple length is between 3-5 inches. It has good white color and takes dye well. The selective breeding for the wool quality has been focused on staple strength and not compromise the micron count,  so the wool has excellent elasticity and a silky feel. The fabric is lively, supple, elegant and strong enough to hold up to everyday wear.

Originally, Targhee were raised in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. Now due to the increased popularity of the breed  Targhee sheep are found in 38 states and Canada. To download the Targhee Sheep card, click here.