THE NORTH RONALDSAY SHEEP FELLOWSHIP
Established 1997 Supporting an island legacy and a unique breed of sheep
EMAIL US - CLICK HERE
The North Ronaldsay is a small rare breed of sheep of the northern short-tailed group of breeds; bones of similar animals have been found at Skara Brae dating from the Bronze Age and the recent genotype survey organised by the RBST demonstrated that the breed is still virtually unchanged from the original type.
Mature animals rarely exceed 30 kg - rams slightly more.
The animals are "primitive" and fine-boned and have evolved in a specialised seashore environment on their native island but adapt well to mainland management including conservation grazing. The colour of the face and legs is variable. The head is small and the ewe’s face is "dished". The tail is short and thin. Rams are horned, but ewes can be horned, polled or scurred. The ewes have a strong maternal instinct and lamb very easily frequently producing twins; a lambing % of 140 is normal. The meat is a superb flavour due to the slow maturation and animals are usually finished at 15 months.
Wool: virtually any colour possible, from white through grey to black, various shades of brown or mixed colours. Self colours are usually retained, mixed colours usually fade to fawn. Rams develop a mane and beard of coarse hair. Wool is fairly fine but with some kemp. Fleece about 1 kg; staple length about 100mm; quality 54-56 (Bradford count) ie. 28 Microns.
2009 census information indicates that there are less than 500 registered females in the UK making the breed officially 'endangered' according to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. There is about 3700 sheep still on North Ronaldsay but the geographic concentration is very high in this very small area.
Handcraft Use: the wide variety of colours available make the wool popular with hand spinners, felters, knitters and textile designers.