Together we're growing something special. Sheep have grazed in Britain for thousands of years, providing one of our greatest natural resources - wool. The Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep Society was established in 1976. Probably the heftiest of Brtain’s ‘Rastafarian’ sheep, bred for their lustrous fleeces, the Wensleydale, named in 1876 to provide a classification at the Yorkshire Show, is described by aficionados as having great presence. Modern breeding schemes have also resulted in an increasing number of composite or synthetic breeds which are the result of a crossing of two or more established breeds. There are more breeds of sheep on the planet than there are of all other forms of livestock, probably over 1,000. With a micron range of 30 – 35+, the thickness of the fibre can vary enormously, depending both on the breed and where it is farmed. It hails from the Tywi valley in Carmarthenshire and was nearly wiped out by 1947 when there was only one ram left, but smallholder interest boomed and it’s had a breed society since 1985. Not quite as fine as downland breeds, fleeces classified as ‘medium’ have a micron count of between 31-35 and represent some of the most versatile wools in the British clip. The Herdwick, the Rough Fell and their close neighbour the Swaledale have been bred and reared to withstand the climate. Find out more about different wool types and some of our most popular breeds below, and view our breed book for more detailed information. The Mule is a mixture of various sheep breeds, it’s not a pedigree animal. Exmoor farmers are proud of the animals that have shaped the romantic landscape there. There’s something endearing about the Suffolk’s long black ears, which either flop down or stick up bat-like, and the uniform black face and legs add to the appeal. The sheep, probably brought by the Romans, were in such demand with foreign merchants, who paid handsomely for the ‘golden fleeces’, that Henry VI licensed their export. Enter your email address to receive alerts when we have new listings available for Rare breed sheep for sale UK. The Dorper and Katahdin hair breeds, both developed in modern times, are now among the most common sheep in America. While the Merino is dominant in Australia and New Zealand, there are over 60 different breeds living in the UK and well over 40 in the US. (Or best, depending on who you ask), Bothies: The hidden shacks across Britain offering shelter, comfort and warmth to weary travellers, Country Life's Top 100 architects, builders, designers and gardeners. The Boreray is a small breed. A clash between two four-horned rams can be violent, the animals lifting their rear ends off the ground for extra impact. There is something like forty different breeds of British sheep. Measuring 35 micron and above, this type of wool is particularly resilient, contains brittle white kemp and is very hard wearing. Finest qualities of these wools are used in cloth and hand knitting yarns. The fleece of each UK sheep breed has evolved to … Orkney’s most northerly island is encircled by a drystone dyke, built in 1832, to keep its unique seaweed-eating sheep on the shoreline and off farmland, where they would suffer copper poisoning. The breed can shed its fleece although not all animals do so. The RBST formally recognised it in the 1970s and, in 1994, a breed society Rounding up is known as ‘punding’. The Lincoln sheep breed is the largest of sheep breeds from the UK and boasts the longest, most lustrous and heaviest of wool coats. The Lonk, carefully bred over 200 years in the Pennines—the flock book was started in 1905—is a particularly handsome, more powerfully built version of the ubiquitous black-faced hill sheep of the northern counties (it’s related to the Derbyshire Gritstone). Selection for wool type, flocking instinct and other economically important traits over the centuries has resulted in more than 200 distinct breeds of sheep occurring worldwide. It splits into two exacting colour schemes: the more usual Torddu, meaning ‘black belly’, is a white sheep with black eye stripes and a black underbelly that stretches up to the jaw and the much rarer Torwen, ‘white belly’, is a black sheep with small white eye patches—both parents need to carry the badger-face gene for the lamb to have the markings. This uncomplicated, smiley-faced downland sheep had grazed the South Downs in huge numbers for centuries, helping to improve the fertility of the chalky soil, when enterprising Lewes farmer John Ellman began to standardise it in the 18th century. The white face should have grey mottling to match its legs. The Herdwick and … The Sheep Breeds in Cumbria and the Lake District … The UK has 57 native sheep breeds, of which 25 are considered rare. The sheep population of Britain is constantly evolving, thanks to both changing farming patterns and developments within the many breeds of sheep kept here. It is usually within the 30-33 micron range. They’ve been beautifully painted by Radnor-based artist Seren Bell, who is entranced by their ‘ancient bony heads’ and black-and-white uniformity. The variation in the thickness of the fibre is considerable with the Bluefaced Leicester the finest in the British clip, approximately 26 micron, while the Devon and Cornwall Longwool is coarser. Click here to find out more about different sheep breeds in the UK. The rest is selected for harder wearing tweeds and, sometimes, carpets. Its rescue from near extinction is thanks to the RBST, which, in 1974, tracked down bloodlines and rebuilt the flock; there are now a healthy 250 registered breeders. The breed originates from the prehistoric short-tailed breeds of sheep found in isolated parts of North West Europe where they survived because they were not replaced by more developed breeds. The breed has been exported and small flocks can be found in other countries, including Norway, Denmark, the UK and USA. The Suffolk was created in East Anglia by breeding Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams, resulting in a heavy weight sheep that still produces lean meat. A rare breed of sheep from the Yorkshire Dales. The stratified system is divided into three tiers: hill, upland and lowland. The stratified sheep system is unique to the UK, and is perfectly designed to play on the strengths of different breeds, and the environments and habitats of the country. History: The Badger Face Welsh Mountain is believed to be one of the oldest British sheep breeds, with origins dating back to the 1st century. The hard-wearing wool is chiefly used in carpets as well as for doll’s hair and needle felting. Known as the Great Improver, Britain’s largest indigenous sheep, with its distinctive prick ears and noble roman nose, is descended from Bakewell’s famous Dishley Leicesters and was probably the most sought-after breed in the country, if not the world, for cross-breeding. It’s estimated that 50% of all the sheep kept in the UK are mules of one sort. The Cheviot breed started as a mountain breed, native to the Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England. It is of the Northern European short-tailed group of sheep, having a short, fluke-like tail that is not … Another, cheaper, option is to buy cross-bred animals, which have the advantage of hybrid vigour. As a result of current farming practice, the wool from the first cross between pure breeds, such as the North of England, Scotch and Welsh Mule, now represents approximately 25% of the clip, and is mostly used in carpets. The face and legs are also white with black ears, nose, eye patches, knees and feet. As a result of current farming practice, the wool from the first cross between pure breeds, such as the North of England, Scotch and Welsh Mule, now represents approximately 25% of the clip, and is mostly used in carpets. The lamb has EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. He mixed Manx Loaghtan, Mouflon and Moorit (lowland Scots for cappuccino-coloured) Shetland blood to produce this pretty, pale-bellied sheep. Fleece is dense and firm with no wool on face or legs. A Ryeland lamb - one of the oldest UK sheep breeds - at the RHS Malvern Show, Worcestershire, England, UK Two Wensleydale sheep. If not excessive, this can be used for effect in tweeds and carpets. The Cotswold Lion, so called for the leonine, rippling action of its corkscrew curls, was pivotal to the area’s prosperity—it was wool money that paid for all those famously mellow buildings. They are bred in Scotland but are found in most parts of the United Kingdom as well as Ireland. The sheep population of Cumbria is around three million. This breed was developed in the Welsh border counties, around the small village of Kerry, Powys. They are strikingly attractive sheep with a white fleece. Lincoln Longwool Sheep The Lincoln is a breed of sheep from England that has been significantly altered by selective breeding in the later part of the eighteenth century. The breed also has horns and are excellent breeders, rearing lambs in challenging climate conditions. In the third edition of this very popular book, the Wool Board has tried to portray an accurate picture of the types of sheep kept at the beginning of the 21 st century. It’s distinguished by a rich brown colour, especially of the face—‘loaghtan’ derives from lugh dhoan, which is Manx for mouse brown or moorit (see Castlemilk Moorit)— and wonderfully crazy horns. Influenced by the sire, usually the Bluefaced Leicester, the wool can be fairly fine, with a micron count of 29-35. And those 33 million woolly blobs, scudding like four-legged clouds across meadow and moorland, represent the highest number of breeds or cross-breeds (about 90) than in any other country. The diameter of the wool fibre very much influences the end use of the wool and, with a micron count of between 29 and 35, the breeds in this category are used for cloth, bedding, futons and in hand knitting yarns. Use the filters below to see which breeds are the rarest and click on the photos to learn more about the UK's sheep breeds. It is the only breed of sheep raised in Iceland. The Southdown sheep is a sheep that originates from the United Kingdom and it is medium sized sheep breed that has a long compact body in relation to the length of their medium length legs. It was developed around rotational farming – summer clover, winter turnips and the salt marshes – in the 18th century by crossing Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams in the Bury St Edmunds area. Wool from native hill breeds varies from fine, fairly soft handling fleeces which are used in yarns for knitting yarns and fabric, to a coarser, crisp fibre which has some resilience and ‘body’. News of its superiority spread quickly — in 1797, farming commentator Arthur Young stated in his review of the county’s agriculture: ‘These ought to be called the Suffolk breed, the mutton has superior texture, flavour, quantity and colour of gravy.’ It’s now a premier British breed, its bloodlines found all over the world from Russia to South America. Scotland also has an incredible wealth of ancient sheep breeds. was started. This ancient Welsh mountain breed is the most well represented native sheep at the Royal Welsh Show, where about 200 make for a striking checkerboard display. The Ouessant Sheep Society was formed by a group of like minded breeders and enthusiasts in February 2005 and has since grown to include over 100 flocks across the UK. Kemp, brittle white fibre, that will not easily dye, occurs in some of the coarser wools. Many, including the Boreray, Soay, Castlemilk Moorit and North Ronaldsay feature on … Characteristics of some sheep breeds are described below. Counting sheep need not be as monotonous an activity as the old adage about it curing insomnia would suggest. It is one of the oldest sheep breeds. The wool from downland sheep breeds is generally densely grown, springy and has a short staple. National Trust founder Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley was instrumental in formalising the breed and inspired Potter to keep them; she died before she could take up her role as president of the breed society, but her will stipulated that Herdwicks should remain on her land. Modern breeding schemes have also resulted in an increasing number of composite or synthetic breeds which are the result of a crossing of two or more established breeds. These wools have a sheen which dye effectively. It rarely contains ‘kemp’, brittle, white fibres which do not dye easily. They are a particularly attractive sheep to look at and while this is an added advantage to any breed, they are becoming established commercially, with great potential in the production of prime lambs and crossbred ewes. Wales has all sorts of hill breeds, including the now ubiquitous Welsh Mountain Black and the more localised Hill Radnor, Brecknock Hill Cheviot and Llandovery Whiteface, but the Balwen, which means ‘white blaze’ in Welsh, is arguably the handsomest, with its uniform facial marking, four white socks (mandatory in males) and white-tipped long tail like a fox’s brush. The Icelandic is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds of sheep, boasting an 1100-year history. It certainly has a je ne sais quoi in the way it peers out from underneath its curly forelock or ‘top- ping’. the perfect sheep breed has resulted in a very dynamic UK sheep industry. Enter your email address to receive alerts when we have new listings available for Rare breed sheep for sale UK. In 1970, when the breed was dwindling, Moses Griffith, a breeder of all things Welsh, called a meeting in Pwllheli to rekindle interest; a society was formed and the idea promoted that Lleyn genes could be used to create a new breed, the Cambridge Hybrid. All other breeds will only do so in the spring, although in practice the definition of spring can be stretched pretty much from New Years Day to the Summer solstice. This abundance of choice has enabled British farming to establish a superior ‘stratified’ breeding system that blends the toughness, agility and motherliness of shaggy hill sheep, such as Swaledales and Herdwicks, with more prolific-breeding upland strains— Bluefaced Leicester or Devon and Cornwall longwool, perhaps—and then matches those offspring with a terminal sire (meat-quality improver) from a chunky, fast-maturing lowland breed such as the Suffolk, Romney, Clun Forest or Dorset Down. The breed is now predominantly medium grey colour and is commonly known as the Swedish Pelt Sheep. The Sheep Breeds in Cumbria and the Lake District Huge numbers of sheep are reared on the hill farms and moorlands of Cumbria. The UK is made up of a huge range of terrains and landscapes, playing host to approximately 90 different sheep breeds … It is used mostly in carpet manufacturing, with some of the lower qualities used in blends for insulation. beginnings, they are jolly, friendly, healthy creatures— and for conservation grazing. Photo credits: Bakewellian theory is responsible for this sturdy white sheep from north-west Wales. Farmers Weekly carries advertisements of sheep for sale as do local papers and Country Smallholding, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the National Sheep Association site. All Wensleydales are descended from Bluecap, a fine Dishley Leicester ram born in 1839 in the North Yorkshire hamlet of East Appleton, which was crossed with longwool ewes from the Tees Valley. Wales has all sorts of hill breeds, including the now ubiquitous Welsh Mountain Black and the more localised Hill Radnor, Brecknock Hill Cheviot and Llandovery Whiteface, but the Balwen, which means ‘white blaze’ in Welsh, is arguably the handsomest, with its uniform facial marking, four white socks (mandatory in males) and white-tipped long tail like a fox’s brush. There’s no shortage of sheep to count, either: 33 million or so across Britain, which is a quarter of the EU flock and 3% globally. The Scottish Blackface is one of the sheep breeds used to produce Mules, crossbred sheep that are hugely popular in the British Isles. The Herdwick, with its distinctive bear-like white face and charcoal-grey body, has, like other wild sheep, two coats: a woolly waistcoat and a hairy outer. You can cancel your email alerts at any time. You can cancel your email alerts at any time. The Society exists to protect, promote and improve the Ouessant breed, providing members with information and advice on the care and welfare of Ouessants, and representing the interests of owners and their sheep in the UK … The local sheep, with its wide face and splendid curly horns has been described as ‘looking you in the eye’ with the ‘irascible, defiant grumpiness’ that has helped it survive bleak weather. Each has a purpose, from the ornamental — Manx Loaghtan or Castlemilk Moorit — to the golden-fleeced (Cotswold, Wensleydale) to the commercially useful Border Leicesters and Lleyns that are slimmer, fitter versions of those comical 18th-century paintings of corpulent, four-cornered farm animals. It was further developed in the Middle Ages, where the cloth trade called for flock masters to select more for white fleece. Some British breeds naturally produce coloured fleeces used, without dye, for their special effects. A medium sized sheep of the downland type, they were developed in the 19th century from breeds native to the Welsh borders crossed with Southdowns and possibly the Leicester. Mostly white wools which will dye well, with some springiness, finer qualities are suitable for apparel yarns for cloth and hand knitting. Shetland is one of the finer, Herdwick, with considerable brittle, white kemp, is usually coarser. Selection for wool type, flocking instinct and other economically important traits over the centuries has resulted in more than 200 distinct breeds of sheep occurring worldwide.