A Brief History.
The Hebridean sheep is believed to have originated from the western isles of Scotland, where locals referred to it as the ‘St. Kilda’ sheep. When numbers of this unknown sheep dwindled, despite the breed spreading to mainland Scotland and England, it almost vanished from its native habitat on the Scottish islands. In 1973 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) acknowledged the breeds presence and vulnerability and took it on to preserve the native breed. They worked on classifying and standardising the breeds description. In 1994 The Hebridean Society was formed and took over the breeds conservation and survival. Today the breed whilst still acknowledged by the RBST, its numbers have strengthened and no longer appears on their ‘At Risk’ list.
The Hebridean sheep is a slender sheep in comparison to those we see today in the fields across the country. When born the lambs fleece is jet black, but as the lamb grows and is exposed to the sun and elements the fleece lightens to a dark down – in some cases with older ewes and ram a greyish sheen is present. Its horns distinguish it from other black sheep, whilst most have two horns, there are blood likes of 4 or multihorned varieties. Ewe’s will typically reach a weight of 35-40Kgs, whilst rams/wethers(neutered ram) will reach 50Kg+.
Hebridean meat is darker are more flavoursome than traditional English lamb. This is because it takes a lamb around 20 months to reach a suitable slaughter weight. A ram or wether lamb will produce a carcass of around 15-17kgs. What the Hebridean lacks in carcass weight, it makes up for in leanness and flavour. The fat on Hebridean meat is lower in cholesterol than most lamb. To read more about the meat please visit the Hebridean Society website here.