Monday, 19 May 2008

Scottish Blackface

Sunday 18th May 2008

More Scottish Blackface sheep were on the croft when I got up this morning. Some little lambs were playing ‘I’m the king of the castle’ on the old ruins by GB’s shed.

The Scottish Blackface Sheep is the most common breed of domestic sheep in the United Kingdom. This tough and adaptable breed is often found in the more exposed locations, such as the Scottish Highlands or roaming on the moors of Dartmoor. It is also know as Blackfaced Highland, Kerry, Linton, Scottish Mountain, Scottish Highland, Scotch Blackface and Scotch Horn.

Blackfaces are horned in both sexes, and as their name suggests, they usually have a black face, often with white markings, and black legs.

The origins of the breed are uncertain. The breed was developed on the Anglo-Scottish border but it is not clear exactly when these sheep became a distinct breed.

Early monastic records show that monks in the 12th century raised sheep that were the progenitors of the modern Scottish Blackface breed. The monks used the wool of the dun-faced sheep, as they were often called, for their own clothing and exported large amounts to Europe. Latter records show that in 1503 James IV of Scotland established a flock of 5,000 Scottish Blackface Sheep in Ettrick Forest in the area south of Peebles in the Borders.
Depending upon which figures you believe there are about 3 million Scottish Blackface ewes, forming anywhere between sixteen and thirty percent of all sheep in the UK. The Blackface epitomizes the mountain sheep. They have long coarse wool that shields them from moisture and biting winds and they are able to survive the harshest winters in the most extreme parts of Great Britain.

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