WHY KEEP NORTH RONALDSAY SHEEP?
The Short Answer...
1. Great grazers, not fussy, eat brambles, thistles, scrub not just grass
2. Easy to handle due to their small size
3. If you have them from lambs and spend time with them they become extremely friendly
4. Easy to bucket train
5. Have good feet - not prone to foot rot
6. Have wonderful fleeces if you like crafts, like using fleece for spinning, felting or knitting
7. Great characters, all individual personalities
The Long Answer...
Having decided sheep were a better choice for paddock management than spending time (or money if we got contractors in) to cut our paddocks for hay, we then had to choose a particluar breed.
After much research, and knowing we didn't want something that was just white, non descript with a fluffy fleece, we stumbled upon North Ronaldsays. These seemed perfect as pet lawn mowers, they are not commercially viable for meat due to their small bone structure and are on the Rare Breed Survival Trust watchlist (RBST) of rare and endangered breeds. They are of a small handable size and relatively low maintenance from a labour point of view.
Their fleeces can be many colours from white to varying browns, greys and very dark brown/black. But they also have many patterns too which are much more distinctive when young. The predominate colour seems to be a mid grey, or moorit as it is known. The lambs are born with strong colours and then their fleeces fade with age into lighter shades and the markings gradually deminish except for on their faces.
They do have some little quirky historical genes that date back to the bronze age and having lived on the Island of North Ronaldsay and eaten seaweed for centuries and centuries. They are intolerant to copper in their diet and this is something that anyone keeping these sheep should be well aware of from the outset. you must never feed them any standard sheep feeds that contain copper as this can kill them. There are special 'Tubby Ron' feed licks that can be put out in the field for them to use as and when they require which will help combat any copper toxicity, and I very much recommend these.
There fleeces can get very thick if it is a very cold winter, but when sheared the fleeces are great for craft work. We have used them for making felt items (bags, slippers, clothing and needle felted pictures) or have processing the wool into yarn for knitting garments with. We have made items of clothing, hot water bottle covers, gloves and hats and although the fleece can be a little coarse in places if some of the guard hairs are removed when spinning, I have found the wool a great, strong fibre to work with which has never irritated the skin.
We love our ronnies... have lambed them several times over the last 11 years, sat and watched them for hours, smiled at the lambs playing in the field (jumping and skipping around), laughed at them when they know they are being naughty, and when they see us coming to tell them off they act as if they really don't know what they have done wrong, even though they are actually very intellegent and know exactly what mistchieve they have embarked on!
They are definitely not a money maker, they are a hobbiest's breed but we wouldn't be without them and absolutely love them to bits.
They are such characters, all have their own traits which they seem to pass down from mother to offspring, such as Bobby who always tilts her head sideways when stood still to look at you, the same as her daughter does. Or Lilly who like her mum loved cuddles and a scritch under her chin and who would stand their indefinitely until you moved away and now her daughter, son (wether) and twin grand daughters all do the same.
I know we made the right choice keeping North Ronaldsays and not just deciding to look out over our baron paddocks and have a machine turn up twice a year to cut or top the pasture. I throughly recommend this breed to anyone who wants to keep sheep as small scale grazers, for a hobby or to breed for showing. Let's help keep this breed in existence, they well deserve a place in our countryside.
CURRENT STOCK AND PRODUCTS FOR SALE
3 x entire rams born April/May 2015 - I can no longer keep these rams as they are too closely related to many of my ewes and as such I need to find them new homes.
£35 each. READY TO GO NOW!
2 x ewes with lambs at foot born May 2017- Only selling as need to reduce flock size marginally.
Ewe with single ewe lamb £90. READY TO GO NOW!
Bird nesting wool - 100g bags of natural wool straight from the sheep. No chemicals used. Unwashed and ready to put in bird boxes and to be used as nesting wool for natural birds and in avairies.
£2.65 per bag plus 2nd class postage (unfortunately the postage is £2.90 for up to 5 bags).