We rely on our woolly friends for a wide array of products, including milk, cheese, meat and wool from their fleeces, and they are also used to graze as a way of controlling scrub and coarse vegetation from taking over valuable grassland.
It’s estimated that there are a whopping 1 billion sheep worldwide, and there are around 90 different breeds in the UK alone – more than any other country in the world. Some breeds are used for a specific purpose (such as making cheese or for their wool), and there are plenty of breeds to choose from whatever your purpose. If you’re thinking about working on a farm, or just want to know more about some of the most common breeds of sheep in the UK, see our handy guide below.
This striking breed is relatively small in size, and bred predominantly for sheep farming in Wales. They are hardy, with a natural resistance to many diseases, and tend to be pretty self-reliant in comparison to some other breeds. The ewes produce lambs very easily, and the offspring tend to grow quickly and efficiently. This breed’s thick, coarse wool is in high demand as it does not require dyeing, and the cured fleeces can be used as rugs or chair throws.
This breed dates back to the 19th century, and originated in the Powys county of Wales. These sheep have a thick, white coat and striking black markings on their eyes, nose and legs, and they are able to withstand most extreme weather conditions. Kerry Hill sheep are a medium weight and size, and primarily raised for their meat which is very lean.
One of the more instantly recognisable breeds, these sheep have a white fleece and all black face, and the first record of their breed was recorded all the way back in 1797. The Suffolk was created in East Anglia by breeding Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams, resulting in a heavy weight sheep that still produces lean meat.
This ancient breed was developed in Herefordshire all the way back in the 12th century, and they have a solid, stocky build that produces a lot of wool. Their fleeces are often in high demand amongst weavers, and Ryeland lamb is a popular choice in high-end restaurants and butchers.
Originating in the Cheviot Hills which straddle the border between Scotland and Northumberland, this breed’s wool is mainly used in the carpet and tweed industry, due to its firm, dense quality. There is evidence of this strong and lively breed dating right back to 1372.
Cows still tend to dominate the dairy industry, but sheep produce many great products too, including feta cheese, manchego and milk. If you’re after high quality wholesale dairy products in the UK, get in touch with Freshways. We supply all the above products and many more, including organic yoghurt, juice and fresh eggs. For more information or to place an order, give us a call or visit our website.