Protecting Herdy: Heritage breed success in the south

Life is hard for Herdwicks . Adapted to life on England’s highest mountains, these hardy sheep forage the fells and survive all weathers. But not all Herdys have it quite so tough. For the 110 ewes and 3 rams who joined Crouchland Farm’s flock earlier this year, life is positively stress-free.

Saving Herdy

So, what are this famous heritage breed doing ‘down south’? Herdwicks may be robust, but they are also struggling to survive. Campaigners, such as Beatrix Potter, fought for years to get Herdwick sheep recognised as endangered, but although they were given protected status in 2013, numbers continue to drop. In contrast, flocks moved to the warmer climes and rich grasslands of more southernly farms, thrive. Many ewes, their nutritional needs met, give birth to multiple lambs, rather than the traditional single Herdwick lamb.

John Scott,  Crouchlands Farm Manager, comments: “We are delighted to see sheep back on the Farm in good numbers. Herdwicks are an endangered rare breed, so we hope to see the breed flourish here at Crouchland Farm.”

Improving biodiversity

The introduction of a flock who, by nature, like to forage, also helps Crouchlands improve biodiversity on the farm.  The Herdwicks graze on pasture and in woodland, which helps to remove scrub, coarse grasses, brambles and nettles. This has the dual benefit of slowly restoring the ancient woodland and bringing more wildflowers to the meadows, but also provides a rich and varied diet for the flock. All lambs not intended for breeding are grown on to age 1-2 for hogget meat and natural fare is crucial to ensuring the wonderful deep, flavour of the meat.

Full of smiles

Visitors to Crouchlands will quickly be able to recognise the Herdwick sheep because they are unlike any other breed. Born black, their wiry wool slowly turns grey while their legs and head turn white. What makes them so unique though is their lovable, happy faces. Here at Crouchlands Farm, we like to think those ear-to-ear smiles are proof of just how contented our flock is!