There are thought to be more sheep breeds in the UK than any other country in the world. The breeds listed here enjoy affiliation to the National Sheep Association. For more information about NSA breed society affiliation email email@example.com.
Description 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. Influenced by climate, environment and grazing quality several distinct types have evolved within the breed and are generally identified by the centres at which they are sold. The Perth type, a large framed sheep with a medium to heavy coat, is found mainly in North East Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Lanark type is dominant in Central and Southern Scotland and the Borders. It is of medium length, with a shorter, denser coat than that of the Perth type. Over the past 30 years a strong influence of Newton Stewart blood has been introduced; benefiting both milking ability and hardiness. The original Newton Stewart or Galloway type is a compact, burly sheep with a short, thick rain resistant coat, and is found, in its native South West Scotland, and many of the hard wet areas of the West of Scotland, the Hebrides, and Ireland. In the North of England the large framed, soft-coated Northumberland Blackface is influential in the breeding of the North of England Mule. Average adult bodyweight: Upland 70kg; Ave./good hill 50-65kg; poor hill 45-50kg
The Bluefaced Leicester is the single most significant sheep breed in the UK today, with nearly 50% of the UK’s commercial breeding flock being sired by the Bluefaced Leicester. Of the remaining 50% around half are being mated with Bluefaced Leicester rams to produce Mule ewes. The great strength of the Blueface, is that no matter what breed of sheep it’s crossed with, its progeny the Mule proves a better commercial ewe than its mother. The Bluefaced Leicester’s improve prolificacy, mothering ability, ease of management and most importantly financial return.The breed started in Northumberland around 100 years ago and the Bluefaced Leicester Breeders Association was formed in 1962 and celebrates its Golden Anniversary in 2012. Over the last half century the breed has spread all over the UK, especially into Scotland and Wales where, in the last ten years, some of the breeds top stock has been produced. The Bluefaced Leicester breeders are extremely adaptable. Instead of following fashions as other breeds have, each of their breeders produce rams to suit their individual markets, to suit regional sheep breeds and breed Mules to suit every management system possible. A breed, with members 100% confidant in there own product, breeding for a specific market, knowing that diversity is their strength.
Brecknock Hill Cheviot
Description 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.
Description The Charollais is a 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 line of the shoulders should retain a wedge shape which is so important for ease of lambing. The legs are clean, quite short, coloured but never very dark. The front legs should not be set too wide apart and animal must be well balanced. The gigots are well developed, thick and deep. 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.
Description The Clun Forest is a very adaptable breed, living equally happily in the down lands of the South of England or the hills of Wales and Scotland. They have a low mortality rate and are highly resistant to disease; recent evidence also indicates that the Clun Forest has good resistance to Scrapie. They have an alert appearance with a clean open dark-brown face, with a characteristic covering of wool on the top of the head and ears that are carried high and forward. The body has a strong muscular neck carried high from fine shoulders, lengthy good back, deep rib, strong loin, good hock and a deep and well rounded rear.Clun ewes are protective and productive mothers - Longevity is a strong point of this breed with records showing ewes can still be breeding at 12 years of age. The ewes are excellent mothers, lamb easily, and have plenty of rich milk with an average prolificacy of 179%. Their feet are extremely sound and their teeth long lasting. The Clun ewes are used for either the production of cross bred ewes, Clun Mule’s being the most common, or mated to any of the Down or Continental rams. Both produce lambs with excellent weight for age results. Pure Clun lambs have a carcass weight of 16/20kg from 12/17 weeks are highly prized for their meat which is lean, dark and flavoursome.The fleece is generally of a high quality with an average weight of 3 kg, staple length is 6 – 10 cm with a Bradford count of 56 – 58. The wool is and very popular in the production of knitting wools and felts.
Description The nostrils are spotted or mottled with black or grey, eyes are bright, head medium, flat between the ears, well covered with curly wool. Normally polled. The ears are of medium length, thick, covered with smooth white hair, if they have a few black spots so much the better and can be tanned colour inside. The neck is arched and strong. Shoulders fairly wide, sloping into deep, wide breast. The back is straight and level, loin wide, thick and flat, with broad tail. Legs should be straight, short, placed well apart with good bone, hind legs covered with wool. The feet are mottled to match the face. Fleece is a uniform of long curly lustre wool of wide staple and good quality. Average mature ewe weighs 64kg, rams 102kg.
Devon And Cornwall Longwool
Description 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.
Epynt Hardy Speckled Sheep
Epynt Hardy Speckled Sheep are a commercial, easy-care breed and their primary purpose is to perform well in the upland environment all year round with limited supplementary feeding. They are a long living, good mouthing sheep producing lambs which are easy to finish. They are a heavy boned hill sheep which is stocky and sturdy in stature with a speckled face and legs, of grey brown or black clean of wool. The ewes are polled and the rams usually horned. Their attributes include a strong hefting ability, excellent mothering ability and a good breed for crossing. Average mature ewe weighs 40-50kgs, rams 60-70kgs.
Description The Friesland is 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.
Description 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.
Ile De France
Description 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. The neck is short, trunked, rounded off at the upper part, well blended with shoulder, without dewlaps or folds. The body is wide and large, broad and deep chested, prominent and thick sternum, well sprung ribs, straight wide back, horizontal and large rump, well set tail, muscled thighs, short and well developed open leg. It has a close white fleece, blocky, staple of good length. 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.
Description 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. Heads must be feminine and warm white in colour with wide foreheads, good length from eye to nose - being straight to slightly dished and narrowing towards the nose. Bright lively eyes and a black nose. Medium sized ears with black spots are desirable with the base of the ear starting from the wool. The breast to be wide and well forward. The neck should be well set in the shoulders and of medium length. The back should be long with well sprung ribs and broad loins which are well joined to the rump. 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.
South Wales Mountain
Description 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.
Description The Southdown is a good all rounder, capable of meeting the needs of all breeders. It is a well fleshed, meaty sheep, with a wide, level back through to the tail and a “leg at each corner”. The wool is of fine texture and great density covering the whole body down to the hocks. Ears are small and covered with short wool.The Southdown is the ideal terminal sire: it is capable of producing a fast-growing butcher’s lamb without the need for expensive concentrates. Lambs grade well, finish easily off grass alone, and produce a well flavoured carcase of excellent conformation with a high meat: bone ratio.The Southdown is an easy lambing breed, ideal for use on ewe lambs: the lambs are quick to their feet, not demanding on their dams and easy to finish off grass.Rams are robust, good on their feet and long lived. Signet performance rams are available.The breed is equally suited to the pedigree flock owner: the Southdown is a docile, easily managed breed which suits the small flock owner with limited grazing. The ewes are good mothers.Average mature weight for ewes is 65 – 75kg, rams 85 – 100kg.The Southdown is the breed that meets the needs of both the pedigree and the modern commercial market.The Southdown Sheep Society organises annual national premier pedigree sales at Maidstone (last Saturday in July), Worcester (first Saturday in September) and Melton Mowbray as part of the Traditional Native Breeds Sale (second weekend in September).
Description 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. Ears of medium length. 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. The coarse hairy fleece has almost been eliminated and the wool in general is uniform in character. The tail is thick, long and woolly. Legs are good flat bone of medium length, well set four square, with well shaped hocks, grey or mottled in colour, with good sized feet. Walks well.
ORIGINSThe Texel sheep originates from the island of Texel off the Dutch North-Sea coast. Crossed with Lincoln, Leicester and Wensleydales in the late 19th century the small native Texel breed developed into a large and prolific sheep which became popular for its well fleshed but lean carcass.FIRST IMPORTATIONFirst importations came from France in the early seventies, followed by direct imports from Holland at the end of that decade.DESCRIPTION OF TYPEThere are many different types of Texel across Europe and other continents, each developed to perform in their specific environment. The British Texel is a medium sized sheep with a long rectangular body, well proportioned with a level back and medium bone structure. The Texel’s outstanding qualities are its pronounced muscling and long loin coupled with the unique leanness inherited from the original Texel sheep.In pedigree terms the British Texel’s head should be covered with fine white hair, the nose preferably black with the occasional black spots on ears or eyelids.The body must be well proportioned with strong loins, a solid square stance and round well-developed gigots. The fleece has a high loft with a staple of medium length and is highly crinkled. Fibres are classed as medium, 34 microns and less.KEY POINTSThe Texel is hardy, tough and docile. Ewes are frugal and proven to excel in grass-based rearing systems. Lambs are famously vigorous at birth with a great will to survive. The breed is moderately prolific with 1.7 lambs per ewe.Because of the breed’s adaptability and excellent carcase quality, which it passes on to first cross progeny, Texel rams have become the UK producer’s preferred choice of Terminal Sire, in particular the increasing number of recorded rams, which deliver reliable performance in all environments. Changes in the growth potential of Texel sheep have been immense since the initial imports during the seventies enhancing both the efficiency and profitability of carcase production from Texel sired lambs.The Texel breed has a structured Performance Recording System, an on-line flock book is available which can be viewed from the Society website.Texel Sheep SocietyChief Executive & Company Secretary:John Yates
Welsh Hill Speckled Face
Description 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.
Welsh Mountain-Hill Flock
Description 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.
Welsh Mountain-Registered Description 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.