Here on the croft we keep a breeding flock of Soay sheep; rams and ewes of various ages, a few of them are 15 years old and still remain very alert and active!
Many ask me why I chose the Soay breed of Sheep?
Why indeed, and I have Dr Francis Pryor to thank for this choice. Over twenty years ago I was introduced to and learned to love this wonderful breed of sheep, when at that time, I was a volunteer at Flag Fen Archaeology Park, Peterborough.
Founder of Flag Fen, Dr Francis Pryor was and still remains a passionate and inspirational archaeologist and had introduced the Soay sheep to Flag Fen. I was fascinated by the sheep, their characteristics and behaviour were so different to the commercial breeds. I fondly remember 'Stan' a maginificent ram with a gentle nature who stood proud and strong, for many years.
A few years later we settled here on the Croft and I knew there was only one breed of sheep I wanted to bring onto the land, and that had to be the perfect conservation grazer - the Soay.
The Soay breed are a primitive breed that date back thousands of years and all Soay sheep are descended from those found on the Island of Soay. This Island is one of the smaller Islands that make up the St Kilda group of Islands of Hirta, Borerary, Dun and Levernish in the Outer Hebrides.
All the Soay at Kilvaree are registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and are classified as ’at risk’ on the RBST watchlist. The RBST are a leading national charity that has been working to conserve and protect the rare native breeds of the UK from extinction since 1972.
Unlike domestic breeds, Soay sheep shed their fleece naturally in the spring/early summer and at this time all of the wool is collected from the fields, places where the sheep have rubbed against the fences or trees. The sheep are also fine boned, very nimble and intelligent animals, and the ewes are excellent mothers. They are almost ‘deer’ like in their behaviour, which can make it more difficult to round them up as they have a tendency to scatter. The ewes can either be two- horned or polled (naturally without horns) and the rams are two- horned. There are a variety of colourings for the breed and here at Kilvaree the flock is made up of dark/light brown and blond coloured sheep and they all have lighter coloured bellies.
The Kilvaree flock are breeding stock and none go to slaughter. All of the fleece gathered is used for producing felt and wool yarn, and periodically we do sell some of the sheep to other registered breeders or for those wanting a ‘registered’ starter flock.
For latest sales of sheep go to Sales & Enquiries.