For further information on sheep breeds and setting up your own flock, see 'Establishing Your Flock', programme 1 in the DVD series 'Sheep on Your Smallholding'
Badger Face Welsh Mountain - Torddu, the Welsh name meaning 'black belly' have distinct black stripes above the eyes and a black stripe running from under the chin to the belly and continuing underneath to the end of the tail. The legs are black with a tan stripe. The fleece can be white, grey or light brown, but preference is given to the lighter shades. The wool should be firm and medium length (7-10 cm). The Torwen, the Welsh name meaning 'white belly' show the reverse colouring, but with a smaller eye stripe. Their bodies should be compact and strong and of medium size. Both Torddu and Torwen rams are horned and weigh up to 90kg. Ewes are polled and weigh up to 60kg.
Easy lambing and low cost maintenance. "The Badger" is a hardy ewe fed only half a kilo of concentrate with hay or silage. Producing up to 180% live lambs weaned at about 16 weeks. Slaughter weights reach 40kg. Ewes in all locations continue to produce good lamb crops for up to 10 years. Plenty of milk and strong lambs with plenty of "get up and go" make "the badger" an ideal low labour input breed for extensive lamb production either bred pure or used to produce fat lambs straight from the ewe when crossed with continental or Suffolk rams.
Society website: http://www.badgerfacesheep.co.uk
Balwen Welsh Mountain - A sheep for all seasons. One of the original Welsh breeds of sheep the Balwen remains as one of the most striking and versatile of all the rare breed sheep. The sheep has a base colour of black, dark brown or dark grey. It has a white stripe running from the pole of the head to the top of the nose, four white feet and half white tail. Average mature ewe weighs 40-50kgs, rams 45-60kgs.
The Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep is a small very hardy breed. They are easy to manage, having very few of the health problems associated with many of today's larger breeds of sheep. They have excellent feet, requiring very little attention, and can get by with only a minimum of supplementary feeding at peak times of the year.
The ewes make excellent mothers, having very few lambing problems and plenty of milk to feed the lambs. At their first lambing, most ewes have single lambs. But after that, under the right conditions many twin, and some have even reared triplets. Crossbred ewes can rear lambs economically, and with speed.
Society website: http://www.balwensheepsociety.com
Beltex - A medium sized sheep, long in the body. It is wedge-shaped from a narrow shoulder to a distinctive large, double-muscled hindquarter. The head is generally white in colour but may have black, blue or brown shadings or patches. The fore face is short and thick. The fleece is tight, dense of medium staple length. Average male bodyweight 95kg.
Beltex sheep were first introduced to Britain from Belgium in 1989. They originated from hybrid sheep bred in Belgium. Beltex is primarily a terminal sire to cross with British sheep and half-bred continental sheep. Beltex-sired lambs are born with ease and are thrifty.
Society website: http://www.beltex.co.uk
Berrichon Du Cher - A polled white faced sheep with a medium fleece of high quality. The body being compact well muscled and medium to large status. Average mature ewe weighs 90kg, rams 130kg.
A well fleshed sheep originating from the Cher region of France. Its primary role has been that of a terminal sire producing quick growing easy fleshed lambs capable of being finished at a range of weights to suit varying market specifications and demands.
Society website: http://www.berrichonsociety.com
Beulah Speckled Face - The face and legs are free from wool and distinctly speckled. Ewes are hornless, as are the majority of rams. A long head is preferred with erect ears pointing slightly forward. The fleece is white, free from any other colours, varying from high quality to longer coarse fibres. Lambing percentages average 160% -170%. Average mature ewe weighs 52kg, rams 86kg.
The Beulah ewe is ideal for crossing with most Continental rams, as well as a Suffolk or any suitable Down ram, to produce the quality carcasses required by the present day British and export trade. Draft ewes are keenly sought after by the lowland farmer to use for crossing with Down rams, as these ewes have an excellent reputation for good mothering and milking. It is bigger and less hardy than the true mountain sheep which spend all of their lives on the hills and mountains.
Society website: http://www.beulahsheep.co.uk
Blackface - The most numerous of British breeds, the Blackface is found over a wide spectrum of hill and marginal ground throughout Great Britain and Ireland. All Blackface's are horned, with black or black and white face and legs. The fleece should be free of black fibre, and can vary from short, fine wool used for carpets and tweeds to strong coarse, which is mainly sold for the Italian mattress trade. Average adult bodyweight: Upland 70kg; Ave./good hill 50-65kg; poor hill 45-50kg.
The vast majority are found in Scotland. The outstanding qualities of the breed are survivability, adaptability and versatility, with the ability to fit into any farming situation. They are one of the hardiest sheep breeds in the country and are the backbone of the Scottish sheep industry.
Society website: http://www.scottish-blackface.co.uk
Black Welsh Mountain - Hardiness and self-reliance are the outstanding features of this ancient breed. Hill flocks of this breed, in normal conditions, require no supplementary feeding, they thrive on the short rough grasses and herbage of the unploughable uplands. Average mature ewe weighs 45kg, rams 60-65kg.
Black Welsh Mountain are an easy keeping breed with a natural resistance to disease. As a hill breed they are used to upland grass but will adapt well to improved lowland management systems. They are prolific and undemanding, hardy and self-reliant. They produce premium quality, lean meat with an excellent meat to bone ratio and a full flavour.
Society website: http://www.blackwelshmountain.org.uk
Bleu Du Maine - A large grassland sheep with slate blue/grey colouring in its head. It has a very alert eye, large nostrils and ears and no horns. Average mature ewe weighs 80-120kg, rams 110-180kg.
The Bleu du Maine originated in western France and was first introduced into the United Kingdom in 1978. The Bleu du Maine is noted for producing big crops of small lambs which lamb easily, are hardy, grow quickly and have strong desire to live. Within minutes of birth, lambs are on their feet and suckling the ewe's plentiful milk supply, which ensures a very high growth rate.
Society website: http://www.bleudumaine.co.uk
Bluefaced Leicester - The Bluefaced Leicester should have a broad muzzle, good mouth, a tendency towards a 'Roman' nose, bright alert eyes and long erect ears. The colour of the head skin should be dark blue showing through white hair although a little brown hair on the head and legs is acceptable. The wool should be tightly purled, fine and dense, and opening cleanly to the skin. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams 115kg.
When crossed with any ewe, the Bluefaced Leicester produces the famous Mule.
The majority of the crossbred ewes in the UK are sired by the Bluefaced
Leicester. Mule flocks have recently shown to be the most profitable commercial sheep
enterprise. The prolificacy, milkiness and conformation passed on to the Mule ewe from
the Bluefaced Leicester makes her the perfect prime lamb producer, when put to any sire.
Society website: http://www.blueleicester.co.uk
Blue Texel - Blue Texel sheep are one of the most recent breeds to be imported into the UK. Blue Texels are quickly gaining popularity with commercial sheep farmers as terminal sires for prime lamb production. As with ordinary Texel sheep, meat conformation is the most desirable characteristic, and should normally be apparent. A roomy well-structured body is desirable with blocky conformation. A mature ram should weigh about 80kg ; a mature ewe about 60kg
Society website: http://www.blue-texel-sheep.com
Border Leicester - A distinctive large white sheep, long in body, well sprung ribs with well developed chest and gigot, proud and graceful with white densely planted wool, 18-20cms in length. Average mature ewe weighs 80-100kg, rams 125-150kg.
Ewes are known for their easy lambing. The clean aquiline head and streamlined shoulders means that the Border Leicester can safely be used on the smallest of ewes e.g. the Border Leicester has been safely used on the tiny Shetland ewes for decades. The high survival rate of new born crossbred lambs in harsh climatic conditions is legendary through their thick covering of wool inherited from the Border Leicester. The crossbred females, when used for prime lamb production, have this inherent hardiness that extends their productive life.
Society website: http://www.borderleicesters.co.uk
Boreray- The Boreray is a primitive breed. They stand approximately 55cm at the withers. The tail is short. Both sexes are horned and the horns of the ram are large and spiral. The face and legs are black, tan or grey, often with dark marks on a white background. The wool is predominantly cream or light tan with a small proportion of sheep having grey or dark brown wool. There is sometimes a dark rump patch and a dark colour, particularly in rams. Average mature ewe weighs 30kg.
Boreray Sheep are the descendants of the domestic sheep which were kept by the St. Kildans. When the inhabitants evacuated Hirta, (the main island of St. Kilda), in 1930, all their domestic stock was evacuated with them. Any stock left on the island was killed. But a replacement flock of domestic sheep had been kept on the island of Boreray. These sheep were left there after the evacuation and have lived feral on the island since 1930. In recent years a small group was taken off the island and the descendants of that small group are now registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Boreray sheep are classified as "critically endangered" on the RBST Survival Watch list.
Society website: http://www.soaysheep.org (jointly with the Soay Sheep Society)
Brecknock Hill Cheviot - White face and legs. Ears erect with no ruff of wool behind them. No wool on face or legs below knee or hock. Broad, strong back. Rams are occasionally horned, ewes are polled. Average mature ewe weighs 60kg, rams 90kg.
Originating from the Brecon Beacons, these sheep survive easily on the hills and mountains of Wales, but are also suitable for utilising the full potential of improved hill pasture. Draft ewes can also adapt well to lowland conditions where they are used for prime lamb production.
Society website: http://brecknockhillcheviotsheep.co.uk/farmers/index.html
British Inra 401 - a highly productive breeding ewe which has 200% prolificacy, excellent out of season fertility, good milk production and outstanding mothering ability. The head is bright, kindly and alert, with good teeth and no horns. The ears are long and thin, the head white with a pink nose. The ideal British INRA 401 has a firm fleece of uniform quality and fibre length. Some chocolate coloured skin pigment is acceptable. Average mature ewe weighs 60 - 70kg.
Society contact: Tel. 01823 680565
British Milksheep - a medium to large polled sheep with a predominantly white face and legs. The head is usually free from wool, the muzzle broad and the ears long. The ewe is naturally prolific and is noted for its quiet temperament which is important in the management of high performance sheep. They are robust and active being keen and vigorous workers all through the year. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams 110kg.
An excellent dairy ewe with yields varying from 150 to 450 litres per lactation. A sensible average to assume is 260 litres per lactation with a 200 day lactation and 6/7 lactations per ewe.
Society website: http://www.britishmilksheep.com/
Cambridge - Dark faced, polled, medium sized with an average quality white fleece. Average mature ewe weighs 75kg, rams 100kg.
The society is particularly involved in the production of high performance crossbred ewes for commercial use. Flocks have been established throughout the UK and all pedigree sheep are sold complete with performance records.
Society website: http://www.cambridge-sheep.org.uk
Castlemilk Moorit - A tan or moorit coloured primitive breed from Dumfriesshire from crosses between Shetland, Wild Mouflon and Manx Loghtan sheep. Average mature ewe weighs 35-40kg, rams 50-55kg. The Castlemilk Moorit is Britain's rarest breed of sheep.
Castlemilk Moorits, like most primitive breeds of sheep are extremely intelligent compared to most commercial breeds of sheep. They are excellent mothers and will defend their young tenaciously. They are better controlled using a bucket of feed rather than a dog. They are long-lived and productive into old age, with records of ewes producing lambs at 14 years of age. They are extremely resistant to both fly strike and foot rot and although they like some shelter, they happily winter out.
Society website: http://www.castlemilkmoorit.co.uk
Charmoise Hill - polled white faced and white legged sheep with a deep body coated in a tight fleece of good quality. It has the most excellent conformation with short neck well muscled loins and strong gigots. It is light of bone and very alert and lively from birth. Average mature ewe weighs 65-70kg, rams 80-90kg.
The Charmoise thrives on poorer pastures, making maximum use of natural forage resources, and requires minimum attention, whilst the ability to retain its body condition. Because of the small head and shoulders it is a very easy breed to lamb and the ewes have plenty of milk with tight firm udders making them a pleasure to shepherd. Usually reared in very difficult conditions, the Charmoise has acquired the reputation for hardiness and resistance, enabling it to adapt to most conditions. The Charmoise breed also has the ability of lambing out of season, enabling them to fit in with different farm management systems.
Society contact: 01686 688234
Charollais - medium to large sized sheep, long, well muscled with thick, deep gigots. The body is long with a well-muscled broad loin and wide deep chest. The head is free from wool, pinkish/grey in colour sometimes with spots. The breed is primarily a terminal sire and the fleshing quality is of the highest importance. Excessive bone is undesirable in the breed; the fineness of bone contributes to the high killing out percentage achieved by the breed. The fleece is white, fine and dense, the staple length quite short. Average mature ewe weighs 80-100kg, rams 100-150kg.
The breed was first imported from France in 1976. The breed is centred around the town of Charolles in the Saone Loire region of France where is grazes alongside the famous Charolais Cattle. Since that time it has grown in popularity and is currently probably the 2nd most numerous terminal sire breed for the UK.
Charollais rams will without question give shepherds (and ewes) easier lambing. The skeletal structure of the breed; without heavy bone, broad shoulders or big heads makes lambing a joy. First time users of the breed cannot believe how easy birth is with the breed.
Society website: http://www.charollaissheep.com
Cheviot- A white faced Hill sheep from the Scottish Borders. The ewe has fine hard white hair on her face over the crown and on her legs which should have a fine, flat quality bone. The fleece should be dense and firm with no kemp or coloured hair. The rams can have horns.
The Cheviot originated in the Cheviot Hills, on the border of England and Scotland. Recognized as a hardy sheep as early as 1372, Cheviots did well in those bleak, windswept conditions, with their strong constitution, easy lambing, well developed mothering instinct, and fast maturity. The Cheviot ewe can be found grazing up to 3,000 feet and is expected to live off the hill throughout the year.
Society website: http://www.cheviotsheep.org
Clun Forest - The breed are sharp and alert in appearance being of medium size they have fine wool which is sought after. The face and legs are dark brown with a grey muzzle not unusual but a speckled face and jaw is very undesirable and becoming very rare. Both rams and ewes are hornless with clean faces a distinctive boss of wool on the forehead with very sharp ears set at about five to one.
The wool is fine with an average fleece weight of 2 ½ - 3 kg with a staple length of 6 – 10 cm. The main uses of the Clun fleece are fine hosiery, felts, knitting wool and futons.
Society website: http://www.clunforestsheep.org.uk
Colbred - A medium sized, white faced breed of good conformation, polled in both sexes. The cross bred type white fleece is of even quality producing a clip of around 3.8kg. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams 129kg. A good dairy sheep.
Society contact: Tel. 01451 860330
Cotentin - A hardy, polled and light boned sheep of massive frame size and length. White head and face. A tight, heavy, white, longwool fleece of medium fineness. Average mature ewe weighs 80-90kg, rams up to 150kg.
Society contact: 01743 891347
Cotswold - The Cotswold is a large, polled, longwool breed. The head is carried well up, the back long, ribs well sprung, the frame and legs strong, giving an overall imposing appearance. The head has a pronounced forelock of wool and a white face, with dark skin on the nose. The high quality wool is white, lustrous and long-stapled. Average mature ewe weighs 85kg, rams 140kg. Said to be descended from sheep introduced to these hills by the Romans, it was the long wool Cotswold breed which was so popular during the Middle Ages when this area was the centre of a thriving and profitable wool industry. The Lord Chancellors wool sack is stuffed with Cotswold wool.
Society website: http://www.cotswoldsheep.org.uk
Dalesbred- A hill sheep with black face and distinctive white mark on each side of the nostrils, with nose-end becoming grey; legs also have clear black and white markings. Wool is plentiful with dense undercoat and curly on outside. Average mature ewe weighs up to 45-60kg, rams 55-75kg (depending on environment).
This breed is very adaptable, can survive in harsh climatic conditions, and is noted also for its extended productive life due to exceptional tooth retention. The breed is indigenous to the upper reaches of the Yorkshire Dales, but stretching into southern Lakeland, and throughout the Dales, although these sheep are appreciated over a much wider area, particularly for crossbreeding to produce Mashams and Mules.
Society website: http://www.dalesbredsheep.co.uk/
Derbyshire Gritstone - Clean cut black and white marked face and legs clear of wool. Polled in both sexes. The Derbyshire Gritstone is a handsome sheep of aristocratic lineage, big, flat bones, strong and alert.
The Derbyshire Gritstone is one of the oldest of British sheep breeds, originating in the Derbyshire hills, however registered flocks can now also be found in the Pennine districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire, as well as Cheshire, and Wales.
This breed is hardy and adaptable, coping with rugged country beyond land management up to 2,000 feet above sea level. Lively lambs are produced, with a relatively rapid growth rate, and good survival traits. Ewes are ideal for crossing for quality lamb production, due to their good mothering qualities, prolificacy, hardiness and thrifty nature. Crosses with Continental breeds are impressive in shape, size and hindquarter development, and crosses with other hill breeds improve wool and carcase.
Society website: http://www.derbyshiregritstone.org.uk/
Devon Closewool - The Devon Closewool is a medium sized, white faced, hornless sheep with a dense white fleece of medium length and staple which contributes to its valued quality of hardiness. Average mature ewe weighs 55-60kg, rams 90kg.
The wool of the Devon Closewool is ideally suited to the home spinner and also modern manufacturing processes, it should contain no black fibre and therefore commands a premium price.
The breed is primarily a grassland sheep and is very hardy, having a docile temperament. This makes the Closewool an ideal sheep for the first time flockmaster, or the commercial farmer looking for an easy care, low input sheep.
Society website: http://www.devonclosewool.co.uk
Devon And Cornwall Longwool - The head is well covered with long curly wool. Both sexes are polled. The body is covered in long curly, white wool. Well proportioned with a strong wide and long top, with well sprung rib giving plenty of volume. The rear being well muscled with good conformation. Average mature ewe weighs 100kg, rams 136kg.
The wool is mainly used in the production of rugs and carpets. Also used in tweeds, braids and linings as the wool is very strong.
Society website: http://www.devonandcornwalllongwool.co.uk/
Dorset Down - Developed in the 19th century from crossing Southdown rams onto Hampshire and Wiltshire breeds they are polled with a white fleece and black face. Famous for breeding out of season so they can produce early lambs.
The Dorset Down is renowned for producing early maturing lambs from grass, making them ideal for organic and other extensive farming systems. The Dorset Down Ram is also proven as the ideal Terminal Sire to virtually any other breed of sheep making it the ideal solution for modern, commercial flocks.
The Dorset Down fleece is one of the most highly valued British fleeces. The wool is short and fine in texture on mature sheep, while good tight wool on the lambs resists bad weather. Fleece weights range up to 2.177kg washed and up to 2.450 kg greasy. The British Wool Marketing Board classes Dorset Down wool as one of the highest grades in the country; considerable quantities of it go to the hosiery trade.
Society website: http://www.dorsetdownsheep.org.uk
Dorset Horn & Poll Dorset - Ewes are of medium size and are naturally prolific, skin colour is pink whilst the face, legs and ears are white. Rams show a bold masculine appearance and also carry good fleshing throughout. The wool of both the Horn and Poll is of the highest quality, not only is it fine and densely grown but is particularly white which helps it find a ready market in times of plenty. Average mature ewe weighs 85kg, rams 120kg.
During the late 1950's hornless Dorset sheep, developed in Australia, were introduced to the UK and rapidly grew in popularity.
Society website: http://www.dorsetsheep.org
Est A Laine Merino - an attractive, strong, large framed sheep with very fine wool. The head is long, white in colour with long ears. The sheep is naturally polled. The neck is clean with no folds or dewlap. Average mature ewe weighs 90-11kg, rams 130kg.
The wool is classified as Grade 1 and 2 by the British Wool Marketing Board, and has a Bradford Count of 80’a to 64’s.
Society contact: 01953 607860
Exmoor Horn - The Exmoor Horn is white faced, with horns, cherry coloured skin and a white fleece of medium length and good quality.
The Exmoor Horn sheep originates from the high hills of Exmoor National Park. The ewes are valued for their ability to produce finished lambs of the highest quality and are also excellent mothers and good milkers. Although a hill breed, the Exmoor Horn is a docile sheep, easy to handle and contain.
Unusually for a hill breed, the Exmoor Horn produces a very fine quality fleece which is of excellent colour, good staple length and quality with a micron count of 36.7.
Society website: http://www.exmoorhornbreeders.co.uk
Friesland- a large framed animal with rams weighing up to 120kg. In common with all dairy animals it possesses extremely good length, a large roomy pelvis, narrow head and fine boned limbs. The breed is naturally polled and has a long bald tail. The fleece is pure white and of high quality, medium staple fine wool, yielding up to 5kg, usually graded by the British Wool Board as Bradford Count 48-52. Average mature ewe weighs 50-55kg, rams above 75kg.
The only pure dairy breed in the UK. Often called the "Holstein of sheep breeds". Yields may vary from 250 to over 600 litres / lactation. High prices should only be paid for milk recorded stock. Rams are now available from 1,000 litre dams.
Society contact: 01647 252549
Gotland - Fine-boned and of medium size. Hornless black head, free from wool, sometimes with white markings. Bold eyes, alert medium sided ears. Small, neat muzzle with even jaw. Dense long lustrous grey fleece, occasionally black, white or brown. Clearly defined even curl and staple, soft to handle. Calm friendly disposition. Average mature ewe weighs 55-70kg, rams 75-85kg.
The breed was first established on the Swedish island of Gotland by the Vikings with Karakul and Romanov sheep brought back from expeditions deep into Russia and crossed with the native landrace sheep. First imported into the UK in 1972.
Gotlands are easy to lamb, prolific, milky and very motherly. Their lambs are active and fast growing form birth. These qualities, together with their hardy and adaptive nature, also make the Gotland half-bred ewe suitable for extensive/rough grazing commercial systems, as practised, for example, on the Scottish Islands.
Society website: http://www.gotlandsheep.com
Greyface Dartmoor - A longwool breed from the West Country Moors, they have a distinctive, heavy fleece of curly lustre wool. Hornless, they are white with black spots on the nose.
Attractive, quiet and easily handled the Dartmoor have their enthusiasts throughout the country and provide a natural focal point whenever they appear.
The ewes are good milkers, capable of rearing twins. A lambing of about 140% can be expected with the heavy milking docile ewes rearing them quickly. Some clipping around the udder may be required to ensure easy access for the newly born lambs. Traditionally lambs are shorn before the first of July.
Traditionally the long, curly, lustre wool was used for blankets, serge, carpets and cloth. The wool is not coloured. Staple length 25-30cms with a Bradford count of 36-40.
Society website: http://www.greyface-dartmoor.org.uk
Wool is white with an average staple length. Body deep and symmetrical with ribs well sprung, broad, straight back, flat loins, wide rump and deep heavily muscled hind legs and breast. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams120kg.
Hampshire Down flocks were established more than 150 years ago. The breed originated by crossing the Wiltshire Horn and the Berkshire Knot with the Southdown.
Easy to manage and suited to flocks both large and small. Face and ears are a rich dark brown, approaching black, with wool over the poll and forehead.
The breed has been developed to provide terminal sires for commercial flocks. Hampshire Down sired lambs are early maturing quality butchers’ lambs.
Society website: http://www.hampshiredownsociety.org.uk
Hebridean - A small, fine boned sheep with black wool and two or more horns, belonging to the North European short-tailed group. Usually a dark brown colour, the Hebridean is horned in both sexes, some rams having 4 horns. From the Western Isles, the Hebridean became popular as a parkland sheep in England in the 19th century. A primitive breed, tests indicate that the meat is low in saturated fats. Widely used in conservation grazing projects. The Hebridean is a very active and long-lived sheep, ewes often still lambing well at ten years or more. It thrives on all types of grazing and responds well to all management systems. Average mature ewe weighs 38-40kg, rams 50-55kg.
Mature ewes normally produce twins, even under less than ideal conditions. They are excellent mothers, lamb very easily, even when crossbred with meat sires, and produce relatively large amounts of milk. They have the ability to adapt successfully to a wide range of managements.
Society website: http://www.hebrideansheep.org.uk
Herdwick – Herdwick sheep are the native breed of the central and western Lake District
and live on the highest of England’s mountains. They are extremely hardy and
are managed in the traditional way on the Lake District fells that have been
their home for generations.
They have a white head and legs. Ewes polled - tups usually horned. Lambs born black wooled, ewes go blue-grey with age. Strong boned and with good conformation for a hill sheep. Average mature weighs 35-45kg, rams 65-75kg
The word “Herdwyck”, meaning sheep pasture, is recorded in documents going back to the 12th century. Herdwick sheep are the most hardy of all Britain’s breeds of hill sheep, grazing the central and western dales of the Lake District with fells running to over three thousand feet. The Herdwick’s hardiness and ability to graze over a wide area of fell is key to the maintenance of the Lake District landscape as we know it.
Society website: http://www.herdwick-sheep.com
Hill Radnor - a hill or mountain breed most commonly found in the Welsh counties of Powys and Gwent and adjoining areas. It is an active hardy sheep. It has a grey aquiline nose with a tan face and legs, both of which are free from wool. The ears are small and alert. Rams usually have long curved horns spiralling outwards, but the ewes are always hornless. Average mature weighs 50kg, rams 75kg.
At birth the lambs are full of vitality, exceptionally well coated and gain excellent body weight. Lambing percentages vary under different conditions but the breed can easily average around 155%.
The Hill Radnor sheep produces a dense white fleece which is popular with the trade and also much used by local spinners and weavers, with whom it is in great demand with an average weight from 2-2½kgs.
Society website: http://www.hillradnor.co.uk
Icelandic- The Icelandic is a medium sized, upstanding sheep, with a light frame and a naturally short fluke-shaped tail. Although majority are horned in both sexes, polled rams and ewes are common. The horns of the ram are strong and well rounded, the ewe's horns are finer and usually swept back. Four horned sheep are found occasionally in Iceland, but none have occurred in the UK. The fleece consists of a dual coat of very fine under-wool and an outer coat of long hairs and is found in all the natural colours, including a wide range of browns. Broken coloured sheep are common, the patterns ranging from limited markings, such as speckled, to large patches of colour on a white background or the reverse. Darker dorsal stripes are often found, Mouflon and badger face patterns occur. Grey sheep may have a black outer coat. Average mature ewe weighs up to 60kg, rams 90kg.
Icelandic sheep are hardy, intelligent, long-lived, alert and very fast on their feet. Healthy ewes are able to lamb till 12 – 14 years old. Prolificacy is good, twins are common, and triplets are not unusual, particularly with more intensive management. Lambs are small at birth but grow quickly.
Society website: http://bisbg.org.uk/
Ile De France - The head is strong with a broad forehead, polled with protruding sockets, face of medium length, lips and nose rather thick. The profile is straight, slightly concave for the ram, large ears, horizontal or standing slightly upwards, never drooping, covered with thin short hair, wide nape of neck. Average quality, average weight of fleece 5-6kg for rams and 4kg for ewes. White covering covers the top of the head and extends down to or slightly above the orbital arches, frames the face, extends to just above the knees of the forelegs, covers the chest and belly, extends over the buttock to the hock of the hind legs, covers the posterior upper part of the tendon. Average mature ewe weighs 70-90kg, rams 110-150kg.
Society contact: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northern-Irish-Ile-De-France-Sheep-Society/500026126746770
Jacob - Upstanding, deep-bodied sheep. Basically white with black patches, head and neck black with a white blaze on the face extending down the chest. Both sexes are horned, wither two or four and very occasionally six. Average mature ewe weighs 60-65kg, rams 80-100kg.
High lambing percentages are the norm, 190% a realistic target. Jacob ewes are easy lambers - an essential for the novice or first-time sheep breeder, or for those whose time is limited, and a benefit in labour saving on any farm. They show consistently good mothering qualities and many will give sufficient milk to rear triplets without recourse to bottle-feeding. Also very hardy and easily out-wintered, have few disease problems and are relatively free of foot rot.
Society website: http://www.jacobsheepsociety.co.uk/
Kerry Hill - An alert and showy breed from the hills of Mid-Wales, it has panda-like markings on the face with upright ears and black feet and a very upstanding carriage. Both sexes are polled.
It is a handsome sheep, with a dense fleece, which is unusually white. The fleece handles well and is amongst the softest of British wools. Average staple length is 10cm (4in.). Average weight of fleece is 2.7kg. Bradford Count 54 - 56's.
Society website: http://www.kerryhill.net
Leicester Longwool - Probably the most famous of British sheep, being directly descended from the Dishley Leicester which was created by Robert Bakewell towards the end of the 18th century. The Leicester Longwool is able to survive and thrive in a wide range of environments. It is a large longwool breed with a white face and grey nose. There is also a coloured variety that has black or brown markings on the face, legs and in the fleece.
The Leicester Longwool is a large active sheep. It grows lustrous wool weighing from 12-18lb but with weights up to 33lb being recorded. Leicester wool exhibits evenness in length and diameter of fibre. It has a Bradford Count of 40-60 with a staple length of up to 18in. The head is bold and strong on a short thick neck. The crown is well covered with wool, and the face covered with white hair. The ears are blue, fine and fairly long with occasional black spots. The muzzle strong with even jaws, and nostrils dark in colour. The carcase is deep and of considerable length with full flanks. The back is broad and level and the ribs well sprung. The legs are of medium length with good bone well set up on the pasterns on dark feet. The legs are covered in white hairs or wool. Average mature ewe weighs up to 100kg, rams 150kg.
Society website: http://www.leicesterlongwoolsheepassociation.co.uk
Lincoln Longwool - The Lincoln is one of the oldest and largest of Longwool breeds, producing the heaviest and most lustrous fleece. Its main function was to produce wool and, at the end of its productive life, a large mutton carcass. The Lincoln Longwool is a heavy white faced polled breed with a characteristic forelock of wool.
The Lincoln has a large strong boned frame with a deep rib carried on long well placed legs. The well shaped dark feet are notably resistant to foot disease. Average mature ewe weighs 85kg, rams 150kg.
Society website: http://www.lincolnlongwools.co.uk
Llanwenog - The breed originated in West Wales in the late 19th century from the horned Llanllwni (now extinct) and Shropshire breeds. The Llanwenog is a medium sized short wool breed. It has black legs and head with a tuft of wool on the forehead. As a grassland breed its main purpose is to produce prime meat lambs from grass.
The wool is rated as one of the finest in the UK and the rare breed status entitles owners to sell their wool on the open market. Fleeces average 2.5kg and are especially sought after by hand-spinners.
Society website: http://www.llanwenog-sheep.co.uk
Lleyn - A medium sized lowland sheep weighing up to 70kg at maturity, renowned for their hardiness, prolificacy, easy lambing, strong mothering instinct, milkiness and easy handling. The wool is white free from any coloured fibres or kemp and is of good length, dense and of high quality with plenty of crimp. Legs, which are warm white in colour, should be well set with no wool lower that the hock, flat boned and strong on the pasterns. Rams must be naturally polled.
Lleyn sheep originate from the Lleyn peninsula in Wales and until recently were a relatively unfamiliar breed of sheep in the UK. Farmers soon find that the Lleyn ewe is an ideal sheep, quiet in nature, prolific, has great maternal instincts, milky, & will not eat you out of house and home, The Lleyn fits in to many situations and its versatility suits both lowland and upland grazing.
Society website: http://www.lleynsheep.com
Lonk- This is one of the largest native hill breeds, the face and legs are pure black and white. The fleece is trim and even from head to skirting, white and free from kemp. Both sexes are horned. Average mature ewe weighs 45-54kg, rams 75-91kg.
The Lonk has been present on the Yorkshire and Lancashire Pennines for centuries, and one Lancashire flock has been traced back to 1740.
This breed can live on the poorest grazing and survive throughout the year on bleak moors. The ewes are good, prolific mothers, frequently crossed with Continental and Down rams for production of long lambs suited to modern tastes. Crossbreds produced with ewes of other upland breeds, such as the Dalesbred, Swaledale, Welsh and Scottish Blackface, provide bigger lambs and improve wool quality.
Society website: http://www.lonk-sheep.org/
Manx Loghtan - A primitive breed from the Isle of Man - 'Loghtan' means mouse brown. Most examples are 2 or 4 horned, but occasionally 6 horned and polled examples are to be seen. On the Isle of Man breeders tend to select for four horns, while in England the flocks are mostly two horned. Polled animals are a variant of the four-horned type.
The tail should be short with a hairy tip and should not descend below the hocks. The wool should be a uniform dark chocolate brown, but it is paler on the outside where it is exposed to the sun. There are two fleece types, the hairy fleece with a staple length of about 100mm and a fibre diameter of 33 microns, and woolly type of 60mm and 27 microns.
Society website: http://www.manxloaghtansheep.org/
Masham – A medium sized and hornless. She has a good reputation for the ability to perform well in a wide variety of circumstances. Producing quality lambs is what she is bred for with an added bonus of a long stapled fleece, particularly as a hogg. Average mature adult weighs 75kg.
The tried and trusted half-bred sheep for performance and profitability. The Masham (Teeswater Ram cross Dalesbred / Blackface Ewe) is predominately produced in the North of England.Society website: http://www.masham-sheep.co.uk/
Meatlinc - a British breed, in the terminal sire category, developed from a breeding programme originated by Henry Fell in 1963. It is white faced, tight in the wool, with great length and heavy hindquarters. It is amongst the biggest of the British breeds, a mature ram weighs 140kg.
The Meatlinc is a market leader in genetic improvement. Fast growth, deep muscle, and low but adequate fat lead to high carcase quality. Genetic progress has been dramatic and continues.
Meatlincs are not bred for showing at ram fairs to win competitions, and have not been selected for 'bone and strong heads'. Strong shoulder development is a hindrance to easy lambing. Meatlinc rams are bred from ewes selected for their ability to lamb unaided
Society website: http://www.meatlinc.co.uk
Norfolk Horn - A medium sized sheep, long in leg and body. Forequarters are narrow. Alert and active in character, it has a relatively fine head with a long straight profile. Both sexes are strongly horned, ideally with an open spiral, and the horns should not grow into the face or head. The fleece is short-stapled, close, white wool. The wool on newborn lambs is invariable darker or mottled; this should change to white with age, although a limited amount of black fibres or black spots is permissible in the adult fleece. The black or dark legs and face are free from wool. The feet are black. Average mature ewe weighs 70-75kg, rams 90-95kg.
Society website: http://www.norfolkhornsheep.co.uk/
North Country Cheviot - The North Country Cheviot (NCC) is a big, long rugged, white sheep which combines thriftiness and healthiness with prolificacy and strong maternal qualities. The largest of all the UK hill breeds, it is particularly suited to grassy hills and uplands. Average mature ewe weighs 55-65kg hill, 75-90kg upland, rams 75-85kg hill, 95-100kg upland.
The ewes make first class mothers, with lambing percentages ranging from 90% on the harder hills to 170% and upwards on low ground.
Society website: http://www.nc-cheviot.co.uk
North Of England Mule - Hornless with brown/white face, clear of wool with a tendency towards a 'Roman' nose. Ears and legs white with brown markings. Long demi lustre fleece with slight crimp. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg.
The increasing interest in the North of England Mule has assured its place in every parish within the country. This medium sized cross-bred sheep, sired by the Bluefaced Leicester, has a Swaledale or Northumberland type Blackface dam. The latter two breeds born and reared on the northern fells and moors are noted for qualities of hardiness, thriftiness and longevity.
Society website: http://www.nemsa.co.uk
North Ronaldsay - This breed evolved in the isolated environment of the Orkney Islands. Its most distinctive characteristic is that of existing on a diet of seaweed for most of the year. The semi feral flock on the North Ronaldsay is confined to the foreshore for most of the year to conserve the limited grazing inland. A small flock has been established by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust on the uninhabited island of Linga Holm.
Ewes rarely exceed 25kg in weight, rams 30-35kg. The ewes have a strong maternal instinct and lamb easily, often producing twins.
Society website: http://www.nrsf.moonfruit.com
Oxford Down - The Oxford Down has a strong solid body with broad head and shoulders. The face is dark in colour and well covered with wool. The short close fleece is of fine quality and covers the whole body and legs of the animal. The head is adorned with a "top-knot". The Oxford is the largest of the Down breeds and evolved in the 1800s when several breeders used Hampshire Down and Southdown ewes with Cotswold rams to produce a large sheep with quality mutton.
The ewes are relatively easy to lamb and many will lamb unassisted. The breed is also noted for its very good, hard feet that need minimal attention.
The Oxford Down thrives equally well on both arable and grassland and in every climate, and finishes on a comparatively smaller quantity of food than almost any breed. It is a notable fact that although some breeds of sheep appears to thrive only in certain localities, Oxford Downs flourish everywhere and have been exported to nearly every country in the world.
Society website: http://www.oxforddownsheep.org.uk
Portland - The Portland sheep is a heathland breed from the Dorset area and a representative of the tan-faced group of breeds from the South West. It is a small animal, the body is of a primitive type within the Down breeds, with good width between the legs. The tail is long and set well up on the rump. The legs are fine-boned with an even tan colour. The front legs and hind legs below the hock should be free from wool. The hooves should be uniformly dark, small and straight. The face is a tan colour but may have lighter areas around the eyes and muzzle. The nose is dark. Some sheep carry a light covering of wool on the forehead but the rest of the face is free from wool. Horns are light coloured; those of the ram are heavily spiralled; in ewes they curve through a half circle. There is often a black line in one or both of the horns.
Lambs are born with a foxy-red coat that changes in the first few months to a creamy white. The wool is close and fine with a short staple though some red kemp fibres may be found on the britch. The breed produces exceptionally high quality meat, with fine texture and excellent flavour, but achieves lambing percentages of only about 100%. The Portland is capable of lambing out of season. Average mature ewe weighs 38-40kg.
Society website: http://www.portlandsheepbreeders.org.uk
Romney - The Romney is a large framed sheep and carries a heavy long woolled fleece. It has a broad white face, some with a small woolly 'top knot'. Both sexes are hornless.
They are excellent foragers, spreading out and feeding widely and equally over the pastures. The ewes are exceptionally hardy, long-lived and good mothers. They are quiet and easily fenced, and readily adaptable to housing.
The wool is of excellent quality and staple, and considered one of the best British wools. Used for the manufacture of cloths, blankets, knitting yarns and felts.
Society website: http://www.romneysheepuk.com
Rouge De L'ouest - The Rouge is a medium sized breed of excellent conformation without excessive bone; as its name suggests its head, which is hornless, can vary from pink to deep red and is covered with fine hair. The breed is strong and deep through the chest with good length in back and loin, but it is the exceptional hindquarters and muscling that are immediately recognised as the powerhouse of the Rouge. The fleece is fine with a short staple that grows into a dense 'jacket' giving the breed ample protection against the harshest weather. Average mature ewes weighs 75-100kg, rams 100-140kg.
Society website: http://www.rouge-society.co.uk
Rough Fell - A horned black head with a definite white patch on the nose. The body is large and long with a broad loin, strong frame and legs with a noble carriage. Average mature ewe weighs 50kg, rams 80kg.
Society website: http://www.roughfellsheep.co.uk
Roussin - This medium sized breed has a brown face and legs. The head and legs are free from wool. Both sexes are polled. Average mature ewe weighs 70-90kg, rams 90-110kg.
The Roussin rams are used for the production of crossbred females from the major hill breeds, transmitting prolificacy and conformation to the ewe, enabling her to produce quality prime lambs. The Roussin is now recognized as an outstanding ram to use on ewe lambs, because of the ease of lambing.
The Roussin Ewes, like the rams are hardy. They are prolific, lamb easily, producing strong lambs with a good birth coat (pure or crossbred) with a tremendous will to live. The ewe's abundance of milk gives her lambs the best possible start and a good growth rate.
Society website: http://www.bohdgaya.net/roussinsheepsociety
Ryeland - one of the traditional British sheep breeds. Ryeland lamb is much sought after by rare-breed butchers, top chefs, hotels and restaurants. Hand spinners and weavers also seek out Ryeland sheep's wool for it texture and quality. Unlike some breeds of sheep Ryelands are docile and easy to look after, which makes them ideal for smallholders or people new to farming sheep. Ryeland sheep do well on a diet of good grass, without the need for additional feed. This means they are particularly suitable for organic lamb production. Head is medium in length with no trace of horn, the face is well woolled and the ears are of medium size, slightly dark in colour. It has a strong, broad neck with shoulders neatly laid into general outline of body with no depression behind. Its chest is broad and fairly deep and has a straight, level back. Legs are dull white colour, well woolled to knee and hock with strong, compact feet renowned for freedom of footrot. Its fleece is dense with pink skin, free from dark fibres, coarseness and kemp. Average mature ewe weighs 50-60kg, rams 75-80kg.
Society website: http://www.ryelandfbs.com
Scotch Halfbred - The Scotch Halfbred, also known as the 'Queen of Sheep', is the supreme producer of top quality prime lambs suitable for all today's markets. Being one of the larger cross-bred ewes in this country, she is long bodied with a clean white face and larger erect ears.
Society contact: Tel.01835 824207
Scotch Mule - The Scotch Mule is the progeny of the Blackface ewe and the Bluefaced Leicester ram. This medium sized, polled cross-bred has a mottled brown face while the fine white wool should have a curled appearance (passed down from the sire). Average mature bodyweight 70kg.
Society website: http://www.scotchmule.co.uk/
Scottish Greyface - As the name suggests, it has a speckled face, grey in colour. The body is long, well sprung and evenly fleshed. The wool is white and of a good length. Average mature ewe weighs 60-90kg.
C/O Society of Border Leicester Breeders / Society website: http://www.borderleicesters.co.uk
Shetland - Native of the islands north of Scotland, the primitive Shetland sheep come in a wide variety of colours from white through grey, fawn, brown to almost black as well as mixtures of these. Tough, hardy and fine-boned, the Shetland is renowned for the quality of its wool with Shetland knitwear being world famous.
The Shetland is one of the smallest of British sheep. The ewe is usually hornless, and the ram has nicely rounded horns, not too heavy, nor too close together. The head is well carried, the face is of medium length with a straight nose and bright eyes, the back is straight and of medium length. The breed is composed mainly of white faced, white woolled sheep but there are small numbers of moorit sheep which produce varying shades of wool. Average mature ewe weighs 35kg, rams 45kg.
As a pure breed the sheep produces very high quality lean meat with outstanding flavour and fine texture. When crossed with a suitable terminal sire the heavier, faster maturing lamb is readily acceptable at markets.
Society website: http://www.shetland-sheep.org.uk
Shetland-Cheviot - This is the first cross progeny from a North Country Cheviot tup and a Shetland ewe. The face will be white, or with limited dark spotting, and the fleece white, medium length, tight woolled and of good handling quality, with a good covering of wool from neck to tail. The body will be well proportioned, lengthy and good boned. Average mature ewe weighs 55kg.
Society contact: Tel. 01806 577227
Shropshire - 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.
The Shropshire is medium in size. Shropshire sheep are active and alert, with good motivation. The head is naturally clean and soft black face, with a covering of wool on the poll. Rams should possess a bold masculine head. Ears should be soft, black and well set on. The body is well fleshed, long, deep and symmetrical. Having a broad straight back with well-sprung ribs. The rump and quarters are long and wide with dock well set on. Legs are medium in length, of strong bone and upright joints, well set apart and soft black in colour. Cherry skin covered in dense, fine quality wool weighing 3-4kg with an average staple of 10cm. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams 120kg.
Society website: http://www.shropshire-sheep.co.uk
Soay - Another small, primitive breed from the remote St. Kilda islands, the Soay is regarded as a link between wild and domesticated sheep. Brown in colour with lighter colouring on the rump, under the belly, around the eyes and under the jaw. Both sexes are usually horned.
The wool is soft and fine, but hairy fibres are usually interspersed among the wool fibres. The staple length is 5-8cm, and the Bradford Count is 44-50. The fleece is shed naturally.
Society website: http://www.soaysheep.org
Southdown - The Southdown has been known in its native area of the Sussex downs since at least the mid 1700's. It was a very popular breed up to the last 30 years. With well-developed hindquarters they still have much to offer the quality meat trade.
The Southdown is a very compact sheep and should have 'a leg at each corner', well fleshed down to its hocks. With a wide level back through to tail. Ears small, covered with short wool. The colour of the face and legs should be mouse, not dark brown. The wool is of fine texture and great density covering the whole body down to the hocks, knees and cheeks. Skin is pink apart from the nostrils that should have a black 'star' on. Average mature ewe weighs 59-68kg, rams 90kg.
Society website: http://www.southdownsheepsociety.co.uk
South Wales Mountain - The breed is similar in appearance to the other Welsh Mountain breeds. The main differences are its greater size and the usual presence of tan markings on the face and legs together with a brown collar. The fleece is dense with an even mixture of white kempy fibre.
Society website: http://www.nswmss.co.uk/
Suffolk - The Suffolk is a polled breed, with a distinctive all-black head and legs, and single colour close cropped white wool. Independent trials show that Suffolk's have the fastest growth rate of the terminal sire breeds. Average mature ewe weighs 84kg, rams 130kg.
The Suffolk evolved from the mating of Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams in the Bury St Edmunds area, these sheep were known as Southdown Norfolks, or locally, as "Black faces."
Society website: http://www.suffolksheep.org
Swaledale - The face is of medium length, strong in feature. The upper part of the face is dark complexioned, the lower part grey or mealy. Eyes are quick and bright, the hair on the face short and strong, a deep jaw and short broad teeth. This type of sheep grows greyer with age. Horns set low, round and rather wide. The wool is white except at the back of the head where it is mixed with part black, with a thick deep bed and curly top of medium length, not coarse, and growing down the shanks. The wool has a good bind and fills the hand well.
Society website: http://www.swaledale-sheep.com
Teeswater - From the Teesdale area of County Durham.
The Teeswater, a large hornless breed, carrying a fine, long-stapled, natural white lustre, kemp free fleece, has an off-white face with dark brown markings around the eyes and nose-end, but the face may also be a greyish blue. Average mature ewe weighs 80kg, rams 100kg.
The wool should be a fine, long-stapled lustre wool with no dark fibres in the fleece. It should be uniform in texture over the whole body. Teeswater wool is in great demand for worsted suiting, knitting wools and also blending with other fibres. Depending on age and feeding, a wool yield up to 8kg (18lb) may be expected.
Society website: http://www.teeswater-sheep.co.uk
Texel - The head should be covered with fine white hair with only the occasional black spot on the ears. The nose should be black and the ears carried at ten-to-two. A short neck, well-fleshed loin, square quarters and well-rounded gigots are features of the body. The wool is highly crinkled with a dense, medium length staple and the legs should be of medium bone on deep hard black feet. Average mature ewe weighs 85kg, rams 120kg.
The Texel Sheep originates from the Island of Texel, one of the north-western Islands off Holland where it has been known since Roman times.
The Texel has primarily been developed as a meat breed but its native environment has endowed it with invaluable commercial traits. The Texel ewe is hardy and exceptionally thrifty and her lambs have a tremendous get-up-and-go attitude, searching hard for milk as soon as they are born. Again, the breed's harsh native environment has led to the development of a sheep that thrives on poor pastures and requires only modest amounts of feed in the run-up to lambing and whilst suckling.
Society website: http://www.texel.co.uk
Vendéen - The head and legs are pale to dark brown and are lightly fleeced. The body is long with a broad back, well sprung ribs, strong loin and well developed gigot. The breed has a noble head and broad muzzle. It is hornless and the poll not too wide, the ears are large. It is a fine down type and uniform fibre length, staple length is 5-7cm and the average fleece weight is 3.5kg. Average mature ewe weighs 65-80kg, rams 95-120kg.
Ewes usually lamb easily on their own, lambing problems are uncommon, and the newborn lamb is eager to live, they "get up and grow". The normal birth weight of lambs is 4 to 6kg.
The Vend éen breed has been known in the Vendee region of France for many hundreds of years and is said to owe some of its blood to sheep saved from the wrecks of Spanish galleons at the time of the Armada. The first importation into Britain was in 1981 (at about which time the British Vendéen Sheep Society was formed) when the first ewe lambs to be imported all produced twins.
Society website: http://www.vendeen.co.uk
Welsh Halfbred - The Welsh Halfbred ewe is a medium sized, white faced, polled, first cross between a Welsh ewe and Border Leicester ram. Average mature ewe weighs 55-61kg.
They are bred to be low cost producers of quality prime lamb. The ewe inherits hardiness, milkiness and good foraging ability from her Welsh breeding and as a result she can be stocked at higher rates and requires less feeding of concentrates than some other breeds.
Society website: http://www.welshhalfbredsheep.co.uk
Welsh Hill Speckled Face - A very attractive breed with black markings on nose, eyes, ears, knees and feet on an otherwise white body. Ewes are polled, but both horned and polled rams are acceptable. Average mature ewe weighs 50-55kg, rams 60-70kg.
Society contact: Tel. 01686 440279
Welsh Mountain-Hill Flock - The Welsh Mountain ewe, has a white or tan face, it has a strong close textured fleece and a typical ewe clip weighs up to 2kg. The ram is usually, but not always, horned. Average mature ewe weighs 35-40kg on the hill or mountain but can add a further 10kg when drafted onto lowland.
Society contact: Tel. 01970 636688
Welsh Mountain-Registered - Rams are white or slightly tanned face with masculine wedge-shaped heads, horns, fairly strong, well curved. Ewes are polled, wool white, firm medium length. Bodies are compact, strong, medium sized. Welsh sheep are attractive in appearance and lively in action. Average mature ewe weighs 45-48kg, rams 75-80kg.
Welsh Mule - The facial colouration varies from white to a dark mottled or speckled, depending upon breeding. They have a close textured fleece that is slightly crinkled and is of high quality. Average mature ewe weighs 60-65kg.
Welsh Mules are the progeny of a registered Bluefaced Leicester ram crossed with the Welsh Mountain, Beulah or Welsh Hill Speckled-face ewes, all hardy, healthy Welsh hill breeds which impart their best qualities to their offspring.
Even the ewe lambs produce prolific lamb crops and their superior mothering instinct and excellent milking qualities ensure a very high percentage of live lambs reared.
Society website: http://www.welshmules.co.uk
Wensleydale - Its distinctive blue skin allows the Wensleydale to prosper in hot climates. It is a large breed producing top quality wool which attracts a premium. Developed in 19th century from mating a Leicester ram onto a Teeswater, the Wensleydale is always polled.
The Wensleydale breed has been developed to provide rams for crossing onto hill ewes, mainly Swaledale, Blackface, Rough Fell, Cheviot and Dalesbred and latterly Beulah, to produce a prolific, milky and hardy breeding ewe (the original Masham) and also a wether which can produce under natural conditions on marginal ground a quality carcass at higher weight with no excess fat. The Wensleydale ram gives that extra size and quality to its cross bred progeny, enabling any recognised terminal sire to fulfil its potential. A Wensleydale ewe will produce two lambs with minimal lambing problems. Twin lambs average 6kgs each at birth with a growth rate that enables ram lambs to reach 73kgs at 21 weeks and be used with confidence on hill breed ewes in the autumn.
Wensleydale wool is the finest and most valuable lustre longwool in the world. Fleeces are of 20 - 30cms staple length and 33 - 35 micron thickness, with yearling fleeces weighing from 6 to 9 kgs. Fleeces are entirely kemp free as a result of the unique characteristics of the wool-producing follicles.
Society website: http://www.wensleydale-sheep.com
Whiteface Dartmoor - It has a white head and face, the face of the ewe being free of wool, the ears are short and thick with occasional black spots on them. They were always horned but this feature has tended to disappear over the years, particularly amongst the ewes. The body is deep, broad and of medium length. The wool is white, of good staple and with a fairly strong crimp. Average mature ewe weighs 54kg, rams 74kg.
The Whiteface are a traditional hill sheep. It is hardy and can thrive on more traditional less intensive land. They have evolved on the hills of Dartmoor, grazing heather during the summer and the valley hay meadows during winter and spring. The majority of flocks still live and thrive on the moor to this day.
Society website: http://www.whitefacedartmoorsheep.co.uk
Whitefaced Woodland - A large hill breed from Penistone area where Derbyshire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire meet. Both sexes are horned the rams spiralling outwards. Distinctive white legs and face with pink or part-pink nostrils.
The sheep are strong boned and long in the body. Their tails have a distinct muscular appearance, and it is traditional to leave the male's tail long, but to dock the ewes somewhere between the legal length and the hock. Average mature ewe weighs 63kg, rams 130kg.
Society contact: Tel. 01833 627424
Wiltshire Horn - The Wilshire Horn grows no wool but has a coat of thick hair. This has many management advantages particularly when wool prices are low. They are good foragers and produce quality carcasses from poor grazing, helped by their long legs allowing them to reach areas denied to other breeds.
An old established lowland breed that is large and white faced. Both sexes are horned and wool-less. Average mature ewe weighs 72kg, rams 126kg.
The Wiltshire Horn will lamb easily, the lambs have remarkable vitality at birth and the breed requires relatively little attention during lambing.
Good mothering ability and milkiness are characteristics of the Wiltshire Horn ewe and both purebred and crossbred Wiltshire Horn lambs have the ability to grow to heavy weights without putting on excess fat.
Society website: http://www.wiltshirehorn.org.uk
Zwartbles- The Zwartbles name means Black with a White Blaze. She is a tall, long-bodied sheep which always carries her head up high, with alert ears. Ideally she should have an all black body and black head with a white blaze from the top of the head to the nose, two white socks on the rear legs and a white tip to her tail which is never docked. Both rams and ewes are naturally polled. The fleece is of remarkable quality and texture shading from black to brown along an ideal staple and is very much sought after by spinners and weavers. Zwartbles ewes are very maternal and as the lambs are quickly on their feet after birth, mothering is not a problem. She is also extremely milky with twins and triplets being suckled with ease. The lambs grow at a tremendous rate and with good management, growth rates of over 500grammes per day can easily be achieved. Average mature ewe weighs 85kg, rams 100kg.
Zwartbles are a docile and friendly sheep, and they a naturally polled. The ewes are very prolific and milky, and well able to feed their triplets without assistance. They are also easy lambers because of the breed's long, narrow head and wide pelvis.
Society website: http://www.zwartbles.org
For further breed information, see 'Establishing Your Flock', programme 1 in the DVD series 'Sheep on Your Smallholding'.