The Flock

We have a mixed flock of around forty breeding ewes, they produce lambs either from the Shetland ram or the Southdown ram. The Shetland lambs are thrifty and take slightly longer 12 – 24 months to reach maturity, when they become known as ‘hogget’ I mostly sell this meat.

Shetland Ewes

Archaeological evidence points to early Neolithic farmers keeping sheep on the Shetland Islands, today our Shetland sheep retain the characteristics of primitive wild sheep including hardiness, thrifty, longevity and a propensity to disregard any form of enclosure! They are a small lean sheep, the rams have horns and ewes usually have no horns, they both have a distinctive small arrow shaped tail that does not need to be docked.

The Shetland sheep produces a very high quality meat with outstanding flavour, Shetland lamb takes longer to mature, 12 – 24 months compared to 7 – 9 months for more commercial breeds. At 1 months it becomes known as hogget. Shetland sheep store their fat around the organs rather than the muscle, giving a leaner meat, also, it appears to be low in lipid fat making it low in cholesterol.

Cooking

All lamb and hogget can be cooked the same way, that is to say, the front of the animal has more connective tissue, neck, shoulder Best end meat is best cooked for longer and slower. The back and leg of the animal has less connective tissue, loin and leg meat and can be cooked for shorter time.

Jacob Ewes

I have five Jacob ewes and one ram who mostly produce lambs for breeding. Jacob sheep get their name from the Bible, in which a story is told about Jacob, who selects all the spotted sheep and becomes a breeder of pied sheep. Around 17th Century, they were imported to Warwickshire.

Ewes and rams can have two to six horns, they have black and white wool, sometimes dark brown and white. My five Jacob ewes have two horns each. The Jacob sheep like the Shetland, produces a lean meat which is slightly drier than Shetland meat.

Southdown Ram

Southdown sheep have been a feature of the South Downs for 100’s of years, in 1341, 110,000 Southdown sheep were recorded for producing wool and in 1831 the number had risen to 200,000. The Southdown would be grazing on the Downs with a shepherd during the day and ‘folded’ at night. But by 1987 they had fallen from popularity and there were so few left, that they were put on the endangered and rare breed list.

To day, the Southdown has made a return to popularity by improving the breed with stock from New Zealand and France. The Southdown produces a fine mild tasting meat. I have a lovely Southdown ram who is part French! He is very gentle and mild natured, his lambs are sturdy.