Black Hebridean sheep are now a common sight on crofts in the Outer Hebrides. The native Hebridean breed, hardy, tenacious, surviving on scrub land and heather, had become extinct in the Hebrides, until a small number of breeding ewes and rams, were retrieved from a Rare Breeds Park and returned to the Hebrides in the late 1990s. They are known in Gaelic in the islands as caoraich bheannach (hill sheep).
During the 18th/19th century, island landowners leased out large tracts of land to Lowland Cheviot sheep farmers. Islanders living on the most fertile land, were forcibly removed to the less productive peat lands or were given assisted emigration. This was at a time when the price of wool was at a premium and the Industrial Revolution had also created a demand for meat products.
Drovers driving flocks of Cheviot sheep, na Caoraich Mhora to distant markets, notably Falkirk and over the border, are thought to have been taking the much smaller, less profitable, Hebridean Sheep, to pay for their bread and board en-route to markets.
This custom is thought to have been the reason that Hebridean sheep, survived in England. There fortunately, they were acknowledged as an ancient breed and were placed in a Rare Breeds Park.
The meat of Hebridean Sheep is said to have low cholesterol value, they have been the natural clearance method on many environmentally sensitive sites in recent years, the naturally black wool is much sought after by craftspeople, making genuine Hebridean products. We are delighted to see new Hebridean lambs each year, ensuring our native breed flock is growing each spring.