Soay Sheep Breeders Cooperative


Introducing Soay Sheep

The Soay is a small (45 to 90 pound), hardy domestic sheep. Its origins are in the wilds of western Scotland and its most important characteristic is its variety - variety in size, shape, wool and temperament. Ewes can be polled, scurred or horned and rams are either horned or scurred. Unlike modern white wooly sheep, the Soay varies in color from a light brown to virtually black coat on the upper body and a white belly. A few are solid black. Some also have white patches. Naturally short tailed, these sheep do not need their tails docked, and because they molt in the spring they generally do not need to be shorn. Ewes lamb easily with few problems and are excellent mothers.

This breed of sheep has a variety of uses. Its lovely soft fleece is prized by handspinners and weavers because of its color and rarity. Its delicately flavored meat, which is gaining popularity especially with ethnic markets around the country, is low in cholesterol. The Soay is also a wonderful alternative to chemicals or the bulldozer in reclaiming land overgrown with scrub such as blackberries, willow, poison oak and a variety of forbs, noxious weeds and shrubs. Soay sheep are easy to house. A simple three sided shelter will keep them comfortable out of the rain and wind. Depending on the location, they will need protection from predators fencing, a llama, or a livestock guardian dog.

Most of all, Soay are just fun to live with. They are gentle, forgiving creatures that are entertaining, lovely to look at and soothing to be around. If your interest is simply the conservation of a heritage breed or you have specific breeding goals, Soay sheep are an ideal choice for the beginning farmer.


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