Native Scottish Sheep Breeds
The Boreray is a small feral sheep found mainly on the island of it's name, in the St Kilda group. Its fleece is mainly grey or creamy and is shed naturally in July. The face and legs are mostly grey and white or black and white with the legts being quite long and the tail short. And adult ewe stands at around 55cm at the withers and weighs around 28kg. Both sexes are horned, the ram having typically extravagant spirals. The breed originated from a mixture of Scottish Blackface and a Hebridean variety of the Scottish Dunface during the late 19th century.
They are currently listed as critical on the RBST watchlist
Rodney our Castlemilk Moorit
The Castlemilk Moorit is a unique, extremely rare breed of domestic sheep originating in Dumfriesshire. Created as a decorative breed in the 1900s to adorn the park land of a lord's estate, it is a cross of Manx Loaghtan, Shetland and wild Mouflon.
The breed's name refers to the Castlemilk Estate on which they were bred, and the Scottish word "moorit" refers to the light tan or reddish brown color of their fleece. The Castlemilk Moorit is one of the Northern European primitive breeds, with short, hairless tails, horns in both genders and a fleece that is usually shed rather than needing shearing. All Castlemilk Moorits are descended from a single flock of ten ewes and two rams, and the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust lists the breed as "vulnerable": having a maximum of 900 registered animals.
The Manx Loaghtan is a breed of sheep (Ovis aries) native to the Isle of Man. It is sometimes spelled as Loaghtyn or Loghtan. It is characterized by a dark brown wool and usually having four or occasionally six horns.
The Manx Loaghtan is descended from the primitive sheep once found throughout Scotland and the Hebrides and the Shetland Islands. The word Loaghtan comes from the Manx words lugh dhoan which means mouse-brown and describes the colour of the sheep.
The breed is rare. It is small, with no wool on the face or legs. The face and the legs are a dark brown colour. Manx Loaghtan are horned with four horns being preferred but individuals are also found with two or six horns. The horns are generally small on the ewes but are larger and stronger on the males.
Loaghtan is farmed as a delicacy on the Isle of Man, with only two principal farms producing the meat. The wool is prized by craft weavers as it is soft and has a rich brown colour.
The Hebridean, a sheep breed now classified as rare, originated in the islands off the western coast of Scotland. They are classified as one of the Northern Short-tailed breeds. At one time they were common throughout Scotland but were superseded by the Blackface. They are now largely found on estates where their black fleece, light amber eyes and multiple horns make them a striking animal. They are a small breed with solid black face and legs. The fleece is generally black but may become gray with age. Both sexes are usually horned with either two or four horns, four horns being the most common. It is reported the muscle tissue and fats of the Hebridean has a significantly lower level of cholesterol than well known breeds. They have also shown a greater tendency to browse than other sheep breeds which has made them useful in ecological projects where the control of brush and weeds was needed.
The North Ronaldsay is one of group of primitive Northern Short-tailed sheep and represents a very early stage in the evolution of domestic sheep. DNA studies have shown a close relationship to sheep found in the Stone Age village of Skara Brae on mainland Orkney, which dates from 3000 BC. In 1832 a wall was built around their native island to confine the animals to the foreshore for most of the year in order to conserve the inland grazing. Since then the breed has developed its distinctive metabolism due to its diet of seaweed, which also renders it susceptible to copper poisoning under standard sheep management systems.
The North Ronaldsay is small and fine-boned with a slightly dished face. Rams often have a heavy mane and beard and are heavily horned but ewes can be horned, scurred or polled. Adult ewes weigh around 25kg and are excellent mothers, giving birth to small lively lambs. Animals need to be at least 15 months old to reach marketable weight, but the meat is lean and full of flavour.
Colours are variable, including white, various shades of grey, black and moorit (deep brown). The double fleece has coarse outer guard hairs and a fine soft inner coat. The wool is suitable for handicraft work and as knitting yarn and popular with handspinners. It also felts well and has good handicraft potential.