Brief History of Welsh Mountain Sheep
The Welsh Mountain Sheep is the native breed of the uplands of Wales. Over the years it has lived and bred successfully under the most severe environments of climate, exposure and nutrition. The Welsh Mountain sheep is well known as one of the hardiest breeds of hill sheep in the world.
When one considers the great variety of land and climatic conditions in Wales, it is inevitable that a certain amount of variation is found among genuine mountain sheep. The first essential is that the sheep should be suitably adapted to the particular mountain or hill land on which they have to live. In general terms, successful farming is the efficient exploitation of natural resources. The Welsh Mountain ewe is the key to this potential natural wealth.
She is able to live and reproduce her kind on these hills. She is a very efficient machine and is able to convert low quality grass into attractive and highly nutritious human food. If the Welsh ewe is productive on a low plan of nutrition, she is much more productive on a higher plan of nutrition. Following a gradual change from mountain top grazing to lowland pastures, Welsh Mountain Sheep can gain 50% of their own weight when drafted to the better land.
Welsh Mountain rams are mainly used for pure breeding in hill and lowland flocks. When suitably chosen, this type of ram can improve the conformation, weight and wool of progeny.
Other breeders are high in their praise of the progeny when using pedigree welsh rams for crossing with various hill and lowland breeds. Also lambs are active at birth, thrive well and mature into choice meat much in demand by the housewife of today. Flock masters in general regard pedigree welsh rams as very active and most reliable breeders.
Pure Welsh Lamb is renowned for its high quality, its tenderness, leanness and unsurpassed flavour. Pure Welsh lamb is second to none and rightly holds an unchallengable position on the British Market. Over many years, Pedigree Welsh Mountain Sheep have been prominent in the awards for hill breeds and carcasses at the national shows, having gained the supreme section on a number of occasions. Welsh Lamb bred on the hills are offered for sale each year from July until December.
Welsh draft ewes are excellent mothers, quick to lamb, keen for their lambs and good milkers. The high milking quality of the welsh ewe is of paramount importance in producing quick growing early lambs. The quick growth potential of the down rams when used as crossing sires is exploited through the high milk yield of the welsh ewes. The lambs grow and fatten quickly and it is commonplace to see these ewes with four month old crossbred lambs, each bigger and heavier than the ewe.
The Welsh ewe is cheap to keep for the rest of the season and requires no hand feeding except in extreme weather conditions and at lambing time, depending on the grazing available. Under good management, better land, a lamb crop of 140-150% could be attained. A good proportion of twins can be achieved.
The wool of the Improved Welsh Mountain Sheep is a valuable commodity. It is suitable for a variety of uses, knitting yarn and producing garments to name a few. In relationship to the weight of the animal, the fleece weight from these sheep compares favourably with clips from sheep of lowland breeds.
Breeding ewes and lambs are sold annually at the Society’s Annual Show and Sale held at Welshpool Livestock Market.