Hebridean Sheep Care
We have kept Hebridean Sheep for 15 years now but we still consider ourselves to be constantly learning. We are more than happy to offer information and tips on Hebridean Sheep care, but there are people who are more specialist than ourselves. However, if you are willing to listen, we are willing to offer help!
Due to the ability of Hebridean sheep to tolerate and thrive on what commercially would be considered as poor vegetation and to graze in a beneficial way, the breed has now become very popular for use in nature conservation grazing schemes. This is because they are excellent at scrub control, preferring to browse coarse vegetation and will readily take down long grass.
We chose to keep Hebridean sheep on our holding as they are a low maintenance, hardy primitive breed that will tolerate the hardest of weather conditions particularly the notorious ‘Fen Blow’ and cutting Easterly winds.
Many smallholders keep the Hebridean breed as they are a cost effective sheep, ideal in intensive situations. The ability of the smallholder to work with animals on a small scale means they are in an ideal position to support rare and minority breeds. The sheep are slow maturing, relatively small in size and fine boned which makes for easier handling than many of the larger commercial breeds. The approximate weight of a fully grown ewe is rarely more than 40Kg. They are, however, quite mobile and fleet of foot, and will be wary and nervous where human contact is infrequent. Getting your sheep to know you means they can become more biddable, which makes for much easier handling.
Our sheep are kept in fields that are divided up into small sized paddocks.
The Fleece is black or dark brown and, with age, goes grey on the flanks. Fleeces of shearlings become brown before the first shearing.
Our flock is of the two horned variety. The rams’ horns sweep upwards away from the head, then spiral backwards and outwards for approximately one and a quarter turns.
People new to keeping sheep may find the process daunting but the following points may help:
• You need to be a Registered Keeper
• All animals must be identified
• All animal movements must be recorded
• A Holding Register has to be maintained with the submission in England of an annual inventory on the 1st December each year
Hebridean sheep can only be registered with the Hebridean Sheep Society by the breeder of the sheep and only then if they are the progeny of fully registered parents. Registered Hebridean stock must have a metal ear tag engraved HEB SS and displaying the animal’s number and birth year. There is also a yellow A4 paper Registration document which shows the tag numbers matching those on the animal.