Rare Breed Sheep Eilidh Lee

Rare Breed Sheep

The farm currently supports a flock of rare breed sheep. These include Gotland, Manx, Hebridian and Lleyn .


This rare breed sheep 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. The Vikings were great seafarers as well as sheep farmers and took these animals on their extensive voyages to provide meat and skins along the route. Hence the spread of these Northern short-tailed sheep and the development into related breeds such as Goth sheep, Icelandic, Finnsheep, Shetland, North Ronaldsay and Manx. Primitive horned Gotland sheep still exist on the island of Gotland today. The Gotland Peltsheep (pälsfår) or modern Gotland has been developed in Sweden since the 1920's through controlled breeding and intensive selection. They produce a true multipurpose long wool sheep, yielding good flavoured close-grained meat, furskins and soft silky lustrous fleece. In Britain we refer to these Gotland Peltsheep simply as Gotlands. The Gotland fleece varies in colour from soft greys to black and is particularly popular with home spinners.

Gotlands rare breed sheep
Manx Rare Breed Sheep

The Loghtan rare breed sheep is a native Manx breed. It almost died out in the 1950's, but now there are many thriving flocks across the British Isles. Loghtan is an unusual breed given that both sexes have the tendency to produce two or three pairs of horns. The ewe (female) horns are small, but the ram (male) horns are strong and long. They are a sturdy and rugged breed, which has a long ancestry on the Isle of Man. The name "Loghtan" is believed to come from the Manx words lugh (meaning mouse) and dhoan (meaning brown). This name may refer to the light brown fleece, which most of the sheep grow. Once the sheep would have been seen along the mountains and hills in white, grey and black but now only the brown ones remain. Lambs are born black but change from 2 weeks old to brown. Loghtans have no wool on their legs or face and are similar to the northern short tail breeds.

Loghtan wool is normally left undyed and used to weave lightweight garments. Manx tartans are also made from this wool. Loghtan mature at 15 to 18 months and are normally fed on natural mountain herbage. Their meat is a dark and low in both fat and cholesterol.


These are a small, fine boned sheep with black wool and two or more horns, belonging to the North European short-tailed group. Ewes typically weigh about 40kg with Rams being proportionately larger. The legs are long, thin and delicate below the hocks. The feet are small with exceptionally hard horn. Their fleece is dense and weather-proof and true black in colour. This is most desirable but fleece tips may become bleached by the sun, giving a brown appearance. Many sheep go grey with age and this can be seen particularly on the coarser wool of the hindquarters and on the flanks. The average fleece weight is about 1.5kg (ewes) and 3-4kg (rams).

Hebridians rare breed sheep
Llyen rare breed sheep

Lleyn sheep originate from the Lleyn peninsula in Wales and until recently were a relatively unfamiliar breed of sheep in the UK. Over the past 10 years the Lleyn breed has caught the eye of many farmers, and now Lleyn sheep can be found almost all over Britain & Ireland. Farmers soon find that the Lleyn is an ideal ewe, quiet in nature, prolific, and with great maternal instincts. The Lleyn suits many situations and it adapts well to both lowland and upland grazing. This is currently the only sheep we have that has a white fleece.