Wark Farm

Organic Farm and Butchery in Aberdeenshire

Phone Number: 01975 581149

Hebridean Sheep

Pedigree and cross-bred flocks producing high quality meat

Sharing a common ancestry with a number of our other old sheep breeds, the origins of the Hebridean sheep can be traced back to the small primitive sheep of the Iron Age, bone remains of which share characteristics of today's breed, with its short tail and often multi-horned skulls.

At one time these thrifty, hardy sheep would have been the main sheep kept by Scottish subsistence farmers in advance of the introduction of the more modern long tailed breeds such as the Blackface, along with the clearance of people off much of the land to make way for the newer breeds.

Small numbers of these old sheep were kept by a number of landowners, with a preference for the black colouration, resulting over time in the selection of the Hebridean style sheep that we have today. As a breed it remains smaller than most modern breeds, can have none, two, four or even more horns with a fleece ranging from a near pure natural black, through various dark browns to those containing a high proportion of silver coloured fibre.

It is a dainty, lightly built, agile sheep, with something of the goat about it in comparison to the modern heavy breeds. It lambs easily with very few requiring assistance and has a strong mothering ability. The lambs when born are very quick to get up onto their feet and suckle. A ewe will typically have twins or single lambs, sometimes triplets.

Our sheep are a key part of our organic system. We run three separate flocks, one of pure-bred pedigree Hebridean's, one of pure Hebridean's crossed with a Meatlinc ram (a meaty modern breed) and a third group which are 50:50 Hebridean:Meatlinc ewes, crossed with the Meatlinc. It is the pure bred Hebrideans that provide the majority of the meat for our sales. The cross-bred flocks produce organic lamb for the wider market. The Hebridean meat is of excellent quality. Details of the Hebridean meat can be found on our  meat sales page.

As well as producing our meat, the sheep are very good at cleaning pasture of some of the more persistent weeds on the farm such as docks and ragwort. Like the cattle they play their part in managing the risks from pests and diseases as they rotate around the pastures.