The breeds

The Northern European Short Tail - the descendants of the original primitive breeds brought to Europe during Neolithic times are known collectively as the Northern European Short Tail sheep. Today around 30 distinct breeds remain, many of them rare and in danger of extinction if not preserved by breeders. They include many island breeds, such as the Icelandic, Faroese and Greenland sheep, the Swedish Gotland, the Scottish Shetland and the French Ouessant.

The British breeds – the breeds of the British Isles are many and varied. They include several of the Northern European Short Tail breeds, but also a wide variety of larger breeds developed for a range of different terrains, for meat but also in many cases for the quality of their wool. Among the breeds reknowned for the fine quality of their wool are the Bluefaced Leicester, the Wensleydale Longwool, the Lincoln Longwool, the Romney, the Ryeland and the Masham.

The Falklands sheep – there is no one true Falklands breed, but generally the Falklands sheep are a mix of Corriedales and Polwarths. Both of these breeds are the result of crossbreeding between British Lincoln or Leicester rams with European Merino ewes. Farmers today continue to interbreed with new strains from Australia and New Zealand to produce ever finer wool.