Heritage Breeds in the National Park

Pair of Blackface Mountain Sheep Hogget Ewes

 

Red Ribbon for Pair of Hogget Ewes Category at Erris Show

Wild Nephin National Park is home to a number of our agricultural heritage breeds including the Blackface Mountain Sheep.

This breed of sheep are believed to be the descendants of sheep originally found in central Asia. They gradually spread through Europe and it is believed that they were introduced to Britain around 800 AD and reached the Scottish Highlands by the 18th century, and the breed was eventually introduced to estates in Ireland in the middle of the 19th century.

Having sheep breeds that can be used for sustainable grazing management of hill areas is important. The maintenance and care of upland areas are important for farming, biodiversity, recreation and tourism. Therefore, it is very important that breeds like the Blackface breed are maintained and improved for a more sustainable role, which can go hand in hand with maintaining and improving biodiversity.

In 2020, the National Park flock joined the Mayo Connemara Blackface recording group through Sheep Ireland. The aim of the group is to preserve our blackface sheep and keep the breed true to type. We use a single sire matting program and all lambs are recorded to their parents for genetic tracing.

We are delighted to have been awarded first place in the Pair of Hogget Ewes category at Erris Agricultural Show recently. A special mention has to go to our colleague Stephen Grealis who has used his skills and expertise in managing this heritage breed here in the National Park.

For more information on this breed and the work being undertaken to conserve genetics see: https://olashillfarms.ie/breeding-sales/ and https://www.sheep.ie/

 

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