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Sheep Breeds Endemic to the United Kingdom - The Clun Forest

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

British Sheep Breeds

The Clun Forest

Clun Forest sheep take their name from Clun, an ancient market town situated in the beautiful Clun Valley which in turn is situated in south west Shropshire on the Welsh border near Powys county. The Clum Forest is one of Britain's indigenous sheep breeds and is considered a heritage breed.

Clun Forest is mountainous reaching an altitude of 1,630 feet above sea level. Survival of the fittest has seen the Clun Forest develop as a tough, fertile sheep with a great ability to forage and look after itself. During tough times over the ages the Clun Forest has produced saleable lambs straight off grass.

Clun Forest Sheep

The Clun Forest is thought to be a blend of Shropshire and Hill Radnor breeding. Kerry Hill sheep were introduced around 1865. The breed is of medium size, hardy and moderately prolific. They certainly have good longevity. It is an ancient breed which has been around for a very long time.

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The dark brown face is long and clean with no wrinkles. The ears are short to medium in length and set well on top of the head. The eyes are bold and bright. The legs from the knees and hocks down are covered with short hair ranging from tan to black in colour. The strong, muscular body has a rather long back with a strong loin and well-muscled thighs. The sheep are deep through the body with strong, sturdy bones. They stand squarely and have a bold stance. The skin is red or pink and should be free of blue or black spots. The fleece is free of kemp and should have no dark or grey wool. The wool is short and close-textured with a high degree of elasticity. The spinning count is 58 and the wool is used mainly for hosiery and knitting yarns.

The breed is renowned for its strong constitution. The lambing average in Britain is 173%. The ewe lambs generally run with a ram and 60% to 80% will rear a lamb as a hogget. It is not uncommon for ewes to continue to breed until seven or eight years old.

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The Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society was established in 1925 and has published a flock book each year since that time. The Society aims to secure the purity of the lineage of the breed and fixity of type. Over the past 80 years, the only change to the breed has been that the ears are now carried slightly higher. Clun Forest sheep have been exported worldwide, to North America, Europe and beyond.

In 1974 the North American Clun Forest Association was formed. Its aims are to maintain and strengthen the traditional traits of the breed. Cluns can now be found on all types of terrain and in types of climate. Their ability to forage for themselves, their strong maternal instincts and their ease of lambing make them ideally sited to organic and grass husbandry systems.

Thanks to consumers' taste turning back towards flavour and local foods, the succulent meat of the Clun Forest lamb is returning to favour. The meat is lean and the lambs cost effective to produce on any type of ground.

Its hardiness and ability to forage make it a suitable choice for a smallholder.



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