Our sheep are Jacob Sheep. The breed apparently originated in the Mediterranean but has been present in England since the mid 1750s. They are still classed as a rare breed but are listed as a success story in the Rare Breed Survival trust website There is more info about the breed on the Jacob Sheep Society Website which also says Jacob Sheep are the most improved breed of sheep of the last 40 years. They are a pretty hardy bunch and we keep ours outside all year round. We have a little stable as a shelter which we use during
lambing and in the early weeks of the lambs’ lives if there are problems but for most of the year they are in fields which only offer natural shelter such as a tree or two. The picture to the rights shows our field overlooking the Aire Valley in October 2013.
Jacob sheep are black/brown and white and have horns. Yes they have horns! They can have up to 6 horns but we don’t have any with 6. We have some two horn and some 4 horn sheep and there seems no way of knowing what a ewe will produce. We have 2 horn ewes who have produced twins – one with two and one with four horns.
Jacob sheep are a medium sized breed apparently although we find this hard to judge as we don’t have any others to compare them to. They seem pretty big when you’re trying to catch and keep hold of one or when they refuse to go into the trailer! The lambs are fairly small at birth and we are pleased that the information on Jacob sheep mostly lambing without assistance and problems appears to be true.
Our sheep come from a closed flock which means that no ewes have been brought in and instead future breeding ewes are selected from the female lambs born each year. Every year we will choose one or two of the older ewes to sell on and select one or two of the best gimmer lambs to keep. That way we have a nice balance of experience and youth in the flock. All ram lambs will be sold and every couple of years in autumn we will either buy a tup or loan one (so far we have bought and will next need a new tup in Autumn 2018).
We are still researching the detailed history of our flock and will post what we find on a seperate page soon. Briefly though, the flock began with 2 fairly scraggy ewes in the 1980s and our friend Malcolm has, through carefully selecting ewes to keep and buying good tups created a flock to be proud of. Our sheep have pretty good wool, good markings and are all good natured. We hope we can keep all these good traits going and that we don’t undo all his good work.