Sheep @ Baggys
We are pleased to introduce the Black Sheep of Baggy who arrived back in August 2005. They can be seen either in the Lime Kiln Field (along side the Beach at Croyde) or on the southern slopes of Baggy Point. If you would like to know more, please read on:
The Hebridean is a small, hardy breed with fine bones and a tail reaching no lower than the hocks. Both sexes are horned, and about 10% of animals have four or more horns. Occasionally polled ewes are to be seen but these are genetically four horned and usually produce horned lambs. The animals are entirely black, though the fleece usually goes grey with age. Lambs may have a dark brown appearance because the tips of the fleece have been bleached by the sun. The wool has a relatively long staple and a stiff, springy quality. It sheds water easily. The face and legs are free of wool. Adult fleece weighs about 1.5kg and has an average Bradford Count of 48-50. Ewes lamb very easily. Although pure bred twin lambs weigh 3.5-4.5kg intervention is rarely required. Lambing percentages depend upon the management system and grazing available: for mature ewes, typically 175% for lowland flocks and 120% for upland. The Hebridean is a very active and long-lived sheep, ewes often still lambing well at ten years or more. It thrives on all types of grazing and responds well to all management systems. Average mature ewe weighs 38-40kg, rams 50-55kg.
HISTORY OF HEBRIDEAN SHEEP
The Hebridean descended from Viking stock and originated in the western Isles and Scotland. During the C19th they were largely replaced by Blackface sheep, as landowners and government agencies promoted the abolition of the native breed and only small numbers survived. The breed is now undergoing a dramatic revival and flocks are now widespread throughout the UK and Scotland.
Hebridean sheep are usually black, with just a few white, a factor contributing to demand for their fleece by hand-spinners and weavers. The flocks always contain a number of four-horned animals. Although relatively small boned, when ready for market the lambs can weigh as much as 38kg.
WHY ARE THEY HERE?
The National Trust and local farmers are working in partnership to provide a nature conservation grazing scheme on Baggy Point.
To allow the widest diversification of wild plant life the dominate growths, such as gorse, need to be actively managed. This entails a degree of clearance from time to time. To ensure the clearance is affective the cleared areas need to be grazed to keep them clear of dominant plant and to encourage other less dominate plants to grow.
The Hebridean sheep are particularly good in this role. They are an extremely hardy breed, able to cope with extremes of weather conditions and make do on poor quality vegetation.
In 2005 The Baggy flock consisted of 7 ewes, 2 rams and eleven lambs (6 boys and 5 girls) who grazed the Lime Kiln Field (alongside Croyde Beach) from April to September. Then from October they grazed the Baggy Point Headland from the pool gate to the point itself over the south west faces. Returning to the Lime Kiln Field in April for Lambing. Since the success of the sheep we have increased the size of the flock.
Hebrideans are a low maintenance flock and can usually be seen on the edge of dangerous looking drops – this is quite normal. They may also be seen from time to time limping and/or be carrying large amounts of bramble and other undergrowth in their fleeces. Please do not be concerned by any of these situations as the flock is checked daily for their location and welfare.
However, should you witness an animal clearly trapped by its horns please call Michael (Baggy’s) on 07811199838 or Jonathan (National Trust) 01271 870555. Alternatively, please speak to the National Trust Car Park Wardens at Baggy Point.
If you walk your dog on the headland when the sheep are in residence, please keep your dog in close control. If your dog is not used to animals, please keep it on its lead. This is both for the safety of the sheep (they scare easily which can cause serious harm and sometimes death, even if your dog doesn’t touch them) and for the safety of your dog.
We do hope you enjoy our sheep and the beauty of Baggy Point and Croyde Bay.