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Hebridean Sheep

Tuesday, June 23rd 2020

The wetland at Foxglove is managed as part of an Environmental Stewardship Agreement with Natural England. The target species for this habitat are waders such as Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe all of which have been present this year. One of the indicators for success is that the sward is kept below a certain height and that the cover of tussocks of grass and sedges is kept below 60% and cover of rushes less than 30%. Natural England advise that the area should be grazed or cut to help achieve these aims. Cutting this area with strimmers is an onerous task and in order to make like easier some Hebridean sheep have been borrowed from Gam Farm in Grassington who support the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The small flock was delivered on Saturday morning and they were keen to explore their new home.

There is one tup and 14 ewes. The tup has long twisted horns and is easy to distinguish from the others, his name is Thor!

The Hebridean is a breed of small black sheep from Scotland similar to other members of the North European short-tailed group, such as the Shetland and North Ronaldsay breeds. They are perfect for the Foxglove wetland as being lightweight, they do minimal damage to pasture even in wet conditions. They are particularly effective at scrub control, having a strong preference for browsing. In addition, their hard black hooves are less susceptible to foot problems. With another spell of hot weather forecast, it was decided that it would be best for the sheep to be sheared. This morning, they were gathered together in a pen which was surprisingly straight forward.

Ian made the shearing look easy and it took less time than anticipated.

Once sheared they looked completely different.

They were not at all fazed by the process and seemed quite content once they were released back into the meadow. 

Our thanks to Gam Farm for loaning us the sheep and to Ian for his hard work clipping them.

We now have a large sack of 15 fleeces, if anyone is interested in this for wool or crafts then please contact one of the Reserve Managers on 07754 270980.


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