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					              FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE…                                                                 FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE…                                                                    FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE…

SHROPSHIRE SHEEP                                                                                              SHROPSHIRE SHEEP
                                                                                                   The Shropshire is a traditional Downland, terminal sire breed, with a
                 A great British tradition                                                      distinguished heritage. It has many desirable qualities that appeal to flock-
                                                                                                                         owners in the 21st Century.
     f the transport systems we have today      sound principle: Stock brought from

I    had been available in the 18th and
     19th centuries, we would probably not
have a “Shropshire sheep”. Nor for that
matter, would we have any other native
                                                harsher northern climes to more
                                                temperate conditions perform better than
                                                stock moving in the opposite direction.

                                                                                                                                      The modern Shropshire:
                                                                                                                           Thrives in a wide range of conditions;
                                                                                                                             Finishes consistently off grass alone;
                                                In the 1960s and 1970s, it became
British breed. Instead we’d have a                                                                 q   Produces top quality carcasses and tasty, succulent meat;
                                                fashionable to go south for your stock - a
“Standard British Sheep” – no doubt with                                                                        q   Lambs easily with a high lambing percentage;
                                                long way south in fact: to the Continent.
a kite mark stamped on it somewhere!                                                                                           q   Is highly resistant to Scrapie;
                                                Large numbers of European breeds were
When the Shropshire breed first emerged,        brought across the English Channel, miles         q   Possesses great longevity and resistance to many ailments;
there was very little movement of breeding      from the local conditions for which they               q   Grazes in conifer plantations without damaging trees;
stock within the country. Drovers walked        had been bred.
their fat-stock many miles from rural areas
                                                                                                      q   Produces high quality wool, suitable for hand-knitting.
                                                But fashions come and go. Today, thanks
to the cities, but the breeding stock
                                                to renewed interest in traditional British
remained - and developed - within each
                                                food and pride in our great livestock
region. And the way each breed
                                                heritage, some or our native breeds are
developed was important.
                                                making a comeback. Many farmers now
All native British breeds evolved to suit the   realise that for British conditions, a native
local conditions in the areas where they        British breed is best. In the forefront of
                                                                                                           For more information about Shropshire sheep and details of pedigree breeders with stock for sale,
originated. The Shropshire was the most         this revival is the Shropshire. The breed                             contact The Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association and Flock Book Society

northerly of all the British lowland breeds.    has never lost its ability to thrive in a
It proved suitable for a wide range of          range of British conditions.
                   conditions and the
                                                So, if you are looking for a wife, go south
                       breed’s popularity
                                                if you wish. But, if you are searching for a
                              continued to
                                                breed of sheep with excellent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A traditional British breed
                                grow for                                                                                                                                                                         that excels in a wide range of
                                                characteristics, and one that’s bred for
                               many years.
                          The expression:
                                                British conditions, look no further - it has                                                                                                                            farming systems
                                                to be Shropshires!                                                       
                       “Go north for your
                      stock, but go south
                     for your wife” was
                   commonly repeated.
                  Reasons for going south
                 for a wife are unknown!
                Going north for stock is,
               however, based on a very
             FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE…                                                        FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE…

                                                                                       Flexibility For Flock-Owners                 commercial sales records:
                                                                                                                                    Typically around one third of
                                                                                       Shropshire sheep thrive in diverse
                                                                                                                                    Shropshire lambs will be graded
                                                                                       geographical regions and climatic
                                                                                                                                    “U” and two thirds as “R” for
                                                                                       conditions. In Britain, the breed is to be
                                                                                                                                    carcass conformation at fat class
                                                                                       found from the English lowlands to the
                                                                                                                                    2 or 3L. So, Shropshire lambs are
                                                                                       highlands and islands of Scotland.
                                                                                                                                    eligible for premium prices from
                                                                                       Shropshires also flourish in the high
                                                                                                                                    many meat buyers.
                                                                                       rainfall areas of Ireland and at altitudes
                                                                                       of more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) in      A trial at Walford College,
                                                                                       mountainous areas of Wales.                  Shropshire in the 1990s,
                                                                                                                                    investigated the use of Shropshire           Christmas Tree Bonus                          Valuable Shropshire Wool
                                                                                       Shropshire rams are renowned as
                                                                                                                                    rams as terminal sires on
                                                                                       terminal sires. Crossed with commercial                                                   Shropshire sheep have a proven track          The Shropshire has a more complete
      The Shropshire has a remarkable heritage and possesses                                                                        commercial North Country
                                                                                       ewes or purebreds, they produce high                                                      record of being the most consistently         covering of wool than any other
   attributes that are particularly relevant in the modern era of                                                                   Mules. The trial demonstrated
                                                                                       quality lambs that match the exacting                                                     reliable breed for grazing in conifer         Downland breed and grows a heavy,
               commercial, yet sustainable, farming.                                                                                that 95% of the resultant lambs
                                                                                       standards of today’s meat buyers. The                                                     plantations, without damaging the trees.      dense fleece, typically weighing 2 to 3kg.
                                                                                                                                    graded in fat classes 2 or 3L – a
                                                                                       breed also has a well-proven ability to                                                   Christmas tree growers in the UK and          The wool is of high quality and suitable
                                                                                                                                    staggering 28% improvement on the
History of the Breed                            pedigree animals were exported         finish successfully from grass alone. This                                                other northern European countries now         for a wide range of uses. The Shropshire
                                                                                                                                    MLC all-lamb average of 67%.
                                                 around the world. They were           recommends Shropshires to all lamb                                                        use Shropshires as a cost-effective and       Sheep Breeders’ Association produces its
      he Shropshire Sheep Breeders’

T     Association was established in
      1882 and has the distinction of
being the oldest sheep breed society in
the UK. The breed itself was developed
                                                 especially popular in North
                                                America, Australia and New Zealand,
                                            where Shropshire flocks remain to this
                                                                                       producers wishing to maximise use of
                                                                                       low cost, home-grown feed. The
                                                                                       Shropshire is equally suited to organic
                                                                                       and extensive farming systems, such as
                                                                                                                                                                                 environmentally friendly method of weed
                                                                                                                                                                                 control. The owners are reaping the benefit
                                                                                                                                                                                 of two crops from every acre of trees.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               own range of Shropshire yarn, hand-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               knitted garments and woven items, such
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               as travel rugs, throws and scarves.

                                                                                       Countryside Stewardship schemes.
in the early 1800s from sheep that         The fortunes of the breed declined,
roamed areas of upland heath and           however, with the prevention of exports     Great Prolificacy and Longevity
common land in the West Midlands: The      – a result of two world wars and sporadic   Shropshire ewes have the ability to lamb
Long Mynd in Shropshire; Cannock           outbreaks of foot and mouth in Britain.     early, and regularly achieve lambing
Chase in Staffordshire; and Morfe          Committed British breeders have             percentages of 160%. As dams, Shropshires
Common on the borders of Shropshire,       continued to develop the Shropshire,        are docile, milky and rear twin lambs with
Staffordshire and Worcestershire.          maintaining the breed’s great strengths     ease. They are extremely hardy and have a
                                           of high quality meat and wool, as well as   long, productive flock-life.
The steady development of these native
                                           its excellent commercial performance
sheep into a uniform Shropshire breed                                                  Top Quality Shropshire Lamb                  Excellent Scrapie Resistance
                                           and adaptability.
resulted in vastly superior animals with
dual attributes of good meat production                                                Developed primarily as a supreme meat        Since the launch of the National Scrapie
and high quality wool.                                                                 breed, today’s Shropshires retain the        Plan, over 1,000 Shropshires have been
                                                                                       ability to produce finished lambs of the     Scrapie genotyped. The breed is
Favourable reports of the Shropshire                                                   highest quality. The breed combines fast     completely free from the “V” allele,
spread quickly and soon farmers were                                                   growth with excellent carcass                which is linked to Scrapie susceptibility.
using purebreds in Scotland, South West                                                conformation and leanness. Shropshire        Indeed, a substantial number of animals
England and throughout the Midlands.                                                   breeders have frequently celebrated          have been identified with the ARR/ARR
The Shropshire became highly esteemed                                                  successes in lamb carcass competitions,      genotype, which confers the highest
worldwide and in the early 20th century                                                and these awards are backed by               level of Scrapie resistance.