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Soay sheep

Soay sheep are one of the most primitive breeds of sheep in existence today.   The sheep take their name from a small island of Scotland.   The old Scandinavian name Sauda-ey means 'Island of sheep', so they were probably present on the island of Soay in Viking times (9th and 10th centuries AD).   But whether this indicates that the Vikings found sheep on the Isle of Soay in St Kilda or whether they put sheep there is unclear.    

Tests on wool and bones found in Bronze and Iron Age archaeological sites show that Soay sheep are direct descendants of the first domesticated sheep.    A small group of these sheep have survived in a feral state,  protected from cross breeding for nearly 4000 years.  Until 1932 these sheep could only be found on the island of Soay,  which is unpopulated.  In 1932, 107 Soay sheep were moved to the larger island of Hirta (20 rams, 44 ewes, 22 ram lambs and 21 ewe lambs) were brought from the island of Soay and released.   They are a Rare Breed category 3 (Vulnerable).

Soay sheep have proved to be a very practical breed for a smallholder.  They are very self sufficent and hardy,  as you would expect for a breed that is known to have been feral since 1527.  At least 4 centuries of evolution for a life without human intervention makes them ideal for a smallholder juggling care of their sheep with work and family commitments.  They do not need to be sheared,  as they molt in the summer,  but their wool is suitable for spinning if you collect it up from gates and fencing they have rubbed against.  They produce small lambs,  prefer to avoid human contact at lambing time and are very good mothers.

Our flock is provided with as natural a lifestyle as possible.  Surplus ewe lambs are available for sale to smallholders while the surplus ram lambs enter the food chain.  The meat,  sheepskin rugs and sheep horn are all sold direct to the public.  


For more information Contact  HolisticFarm@aol.com