Black Welsh Mountain Sheep
We are no longer breeding BWMS. After several years of struggling with poor quality hay we made the difficult decision to sell our beloved black sheep and focus on our cashmere goats and dexter cattle who are better able to cope with poor quality forages. Our sheep, including our rare white welsh, went to a loving home in eastern Canada. It was a difficult decision but we feel the best one for their continued survival and will be the center of attention in their new home. We will miss them greatly, but we have an open invitation to visit them if we are ever on the eat coast.
We were looking for a breed of sheep that would compliment our goats and cattle in terms of overall pasture use for companion grazing. We wanted a unique breed of a smaller, more manageable size that was hardy, healthy and low maintenance. The Black Welsh Mountain Sheep fit our needs perfectly and they are a rare breed -a very rare breed, which fits with our philisophy and farm goals.
There are still less than 200 registered animals of this breed in Canada. We are all doing our best to increase our flock numbers, focusing primarly on selecting for quality fibre and meat traits.
Rams of this breed are horned and posses a lovely black curling horn set. Ewes are naturally polled although at one time both sexes had horns. BWMS are small in size, easy to handle and quickly adaptable to almost any situation or change in routine. There is no upper size limit, but the average height at the shoulder falls between 20 and 30 inches. Mature ewes weigh in at 100lbs and mature rams weigh between 130 – 145 lbs. BWMS have few lambing difficulties and are exceptional mothers. The lambs are born small but vigorous and grow quickly.
Low Maintaincence Qualities
BWMS tails must remain undocked to be registered as purebred stock and this only adds to their appeal as low maintainence animals. No docking necessary because their tails are hairless on the underside similar to goats and as such, these sheep are naturally resistant to fly strike. Additionally appealing for us in the fact that in 6 years we have never had one animal with foot rot and we have never had to trim hooves. Our sheep are given access to a large pasturing area and being able to meander and graze all day long as well as coming and going from the main barn for water keep which keep their hooves inc check. We also find that black hooves grow slower and wear better than white hooves in general, so being the black sheep of the family is not always a bad thing. BWMS love to be outdoors in even the worst winter weather as evidence by the picture of our rams eating hay in a blizzard on our home page and the picture of one of our ewes in the BWMS photo album.
BWMS produce a lovely black wool known as “cuchddu” due to the reddish colouring that can be present on the ends of the fiber due to natural bleaching in the sun during the summer months. When parted, the fleece is coal black to the skin and will not grey out with length or age. If a jet black fleece is desired, these sheep can be coated between shearings. Average fleece weights range from 2.2 – 5.5 pounds, with staple length ranging from 1 to 5 inches. The wool is firm to the touch and ranges in Bradford count from 48-56s or roughly 26-33 microns.
Meat from these sheep is incredibly mild and delicous, even in older animals. Most of our culls go to freezer orders at approximately 16 months of age when they are at the peak of summer grass intake. We have a limitied amount of freezer lamb available each year and lambs are typically reserved in the fall for the following summer.
Our foundation stock were from as wide a genetic base as we could find given the breeds history. We were able to work with the other breeders in Canada a few years ago to bring in 11 new breeding rams. Both rams we retained now have lambs on the ground and we are working on diversifying our genetics into 3-4 line bred ewe groupings so that we can continue to preserve and further this breed in Canada for years to come. We are following the recommendations of the American Liverstock Breeds Concervancy in approaching our breeding program so as to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible as we move forward.
Our animals are registered with the American Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Association of which we are active members.
For further information on this breed, please contact us or see the following links:
From time to time we have stock avaiable for sale to start new breeding flocks. Please contact us directly for details and current pricing.
Please note we reduced our flock greatly last year due to the hay shortage and quality issues. We did retain a small group of our favorite ewes to carry on with including two white welsh's -the first recognized in North America. We are just waiting on the last 3 ewes to lamb nut hoping for some more whites and a couple more ewe lambs before making up the sales list. Contact us soon if you are interested in stock.