The Rare Breeds Society Trust registers pedigree animals bred
and living in the UK, including some semi-feral populations …
|Sheep in a Summer Landscape by|
Thomas Sidney Cooper - who is known for his
cattle paintings ... see my C
… they monitor the threat from disease and work to reduce
geographical isolation of breeds, while if necessary relocating animals away
from any threats.
There are 24 Sheep breeds listed in a Watchlist status …
Critical (very few left:),
Endangered (a few more, but not many),
Vulnerable (says it all),
At Risk (slightly better),
|British Postal Stamps issued 2012 - showing:|
Welsh Mountain Badger Face; Dalesbred; Jacob;
Suffolk; Soay and Leicester Long Wool
Their website gives numbers etc … but the priority is to get
each breed up to viable numbers so that in-breeding and genetic erosion can be
eliminated: thus the breed is improved and thus conserved.
|The Isle of Man - the southernmost|
red island - detail of islands
in a historical sense circa 1100 AD
"The Kingdom of the Isles"
I show a few of the breeds here and through the A-Z have
mentioned one or two others … while more may be seen at the RBST (Sheep) site …
Some of our many (over 6,000) smaller islands can be used for
flocks of sheep, where they can be better protected from disease.
|Balwens in the snow|
Welsh Mountain sheep – the name comes from the Welsh elements bal, “blaze”, and wen “white” …
|The River Tywi (Towy)|
They come from one small area of Wales – the Tywi valley ..
and were particularly badly hit in the severe British winter of 1946/7. With some outcrossing with other types of
Welsh Mountain sheep their numbers are increasing …
|Manx Loaghtan on Jersey|
Loaghtan – an Isle of Mann breed … which appears at rare breed farms
on the mainland, and has been introduced into Jersey – as it is believed to be
the closest surviving relative of the now extinct Jersey Sheep.
Interestingly it appears there is a link between the Manx
Loaghtan breed and the ability of the Chough
to thrive on its coastland sites …
|Devon and Cornwall Longwool|
Cornwall Longwool - the breed is relatively local and there are few
flocks outside of the South West.
- the sheep of Dorset were known for their unusual ability to breed out of
season as far back as the 17th century.
The breed’s prolificacy and capacity for lambing all year round, makes it easier to breed flock replacements and build a closed flock …
Wensleydale – it has
a grey blue face … with long “Rastafarian” ringlet-like locks of wool … this is
acknowledged as the finest lustre long wool in the world …
|Wensleydale showing its long fleece|
The fleece from a purebred sheep is considered 'kemp' free and curled or purled on out to
generally chalky-white, brittle, weak fibres – which are often detached from
the skin … and thus are not desirable at all in a fleece.
Sheep are useful in many ways … for food as lambs, or hoggets
(one to two year olds), milk for yoghurt
or cheese, their wool for clothes, rugs etc …
|The Leafy Spurge - an invasive|
… they are effective conservationists – eating invasive
grasses over native species.
Herdwick Sheep in the Lake District form a vital part of that landscape ... "Herdwyk" means sheep pasture - while the term "hefting" means the lambs learn from their mothers where to graze ... which removes the need for fencing.
|Herdwicks grazing on the Cumbrian|
Beatrix Potter bequeathed 4,000 acres so that Herdwicks could continue to roam and graze the Fells.
|William Holman Hunt (1790 - 1864)|
"Our English Coasts" (1852)
They are raised in relatively natural surroundings … without the need to feed them high-concentration grain feed as with other animals.
Sheep therefore offer different husbandry methods … and as is
noted … any animal is not a cog in the machine of profitability – it is a
living creature that demands our understanding and should receive our
understanding and sympathy … being bred to further the type of genetic needs –
which benefit us all …
That is S for Sheep in early Spring with lambs going towards Summer … Some Sheep are in Severe Survival
circumstances … but the Survival Trust will do their best to ensure all breeds
Survive to provide us with Sufficient Stock to Secure these native breeds …
that is S for Sheep from Aspects of British County Breeds …
|With a proverbial 'black sheep' in their|
midst - this is in Spain
Counties with the letter S ...
(note some counties have been retired!, or amended over historical local government ... but some I've included)
England: Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex
Northern Ireland: None
Scotland: Selkirkshire, Shetland, Stirlingshire, Sutherland
Wales: South Glamorgan
However - to make sure I comply and answer questions (which I'll do more of once the A-Z is over) - and be the proper blogger I be ... Jacob's Sheep raised their head ... the Jacob is not a Rare Breed in this context ...
|A Jacob Ram|
They originated in the Middle
East and are believed to be the oldest breed in the world – being mentioned in
the Old Testament Book of Genesis.
The Moors took them to the Iberian Peninsula in the 8thC
AD; eventually they were imported here in Elizabethan times as an ornament for
country house parks!
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