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The Herdwick sheep breed are naturally polled sheep with a medium to long fleece. They are a hardy adaptable breed that were traditionally bred in the pastures and fells of the Lake District in England.
They are a breed that has been around since a little before the 12th century where they were an important dual-purpose breed bred for their fleece and meat in the Lake District.
HERDWICK SHEEP QUICK PROFILE OVERVIEW
|The Herdwick Sheep breed is a very old breed of sheep that was bred in the Lake District of England|
|Country of Origin:||United Kingdom|
|Main Purpose:||Meat and wool|
|Can be used for||Breed, Meat, Wool **LSC (Landscape Management)|
|Temperament:||Docile and easy to handle|
|Ideal Climate:||Most climates|
Not, Listed by the *ALC
|Health Issues?||No known health issues|
|Good Starter Sheep?||Novice to intermediate sheep farmers/keepers|
|Sheep Associations:||Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association|
|Sheep Clubs:||Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association|
| Note: *ALC stands for American Livestock Conservancy
** LSC stands for Landscape Management – the animal is used for controlling various vegetation growth
|They are smaller than most other meat breeds with medium to long coat of hair that does not cover their heads. They have a squarish compact body and medium length clean legs.|
|Color(s):||Lambs are born black, after a year the fleece lightens to a dark brown and after the first sheering will turn to a silvery-grey color.|
EWE BREEDING & MILKING INFORMATION
|The ewes breed once a year and mostly produce enough milk to wean their lambs. They do have a quite a high lambing loss percentage of up to 25% losses. They are excellent mothers with great maternal and herding instincts.|
|Breeding Period/cycle:||Usually lasts 16 to 59 hours|
|Estrous cycle:||Ave. 17 days/15 to 20 days|
|Gestation Period:||Usually, around 149 to 155 days but most gestation is 152 days|
|No. Lambs/Litter:||1 to 2 (twins)|
|Lactation Period:||Usually, around 150 to 240 day but most are milked for 180 days|
|Milking From:||4 to 6 weeks after lambing|
|Milk Quality:||Good, Quantity: Ave. 180 to 495 liters, Per: Lactation period|
|Milk Ideal for:||Lambs|
|You may Also Like:||10 Best Sheep Breeds for Milk|
SHEEP MEAT PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|The Herdwick lamb and mutton produce a good quality of uniquely flavored meat that is quite lean, tender, succulent with a good grain. The lambs are a little slower maturing than most but do produce a fine carcass.|
|Meat Production:||Yes, Quality: Good|
|You may Also Like:||11 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat Production|
SHEEP WOOL PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|They produce a medium quality of wool that has been used for generation in various wool trades.|
|Wool Production?||Yes, Quality: Medium quality|
|Wool is used to Produce:||Carpets, fiber art, felting, tweeds, etc.|
|You may Also Like:||18 Best Wool Producing Sheep Breeds|
GOOD TO KNOW ABOUT THE HERDWICK SHEEP
|A few more interesting facts to know about the breed|
|Child-Friendly?||No livestock should be left unattended around children|
|Landscape Management?||Most sheep are good at landscape management as they are mostly hardy self-sufficient grazers.|
|Where to buy them?||Please refer to the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association|
Beatrix Potter kept and bred Herdwick sheep on her farm in the Lake District. At the time she was participating in the National Trusts land managing principles and the Herdwick sheep breed were a threatened breed at the time. She is most often presented as the key figure in saving the breed from extinction.
Beatrix Potter was the first female President of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association to which she was elected in 1943.
Herdwick sheep are one of Britain’s hardiest hill sheep breed.
The breed got their name from the Norse “herdvyck” which means “sheep pasture”.
They are recorded as far back as the 12th century in documented records about the breed.
Their Nordic name is a give-away that the sheep were brought to Britain by Norse settlers somewhere in the 10th to 11th century. This would have been during the Viking invasion of Western England during that time.
The Herdwick sheep breed have played an important role in the culture and environment of the Lake District and were greatly advocated by Beatrix Potter in the 1930’s right up to her death in 1943.
- United States Lamb Resource Center
- American Sheep Industry Association
- American Sheep Industry Association List of Breed Associations & Standards
- American Milk Sheep Association
- Dairy Sheep Association of North America
- American Wool Council
- Fur Commission USA
- North American Meat Institute
- American Lamb Board
- National Lamb Feeders Association
- American Livestock Conservancy
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society
- United States Department of Agriculture