What are my special features?
The Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep is a relatively small, hardy low maintenance Welsh mountain breed. The breed has two sub-types: the Torddu and Torwen.
The Torddu (Welsh for black belly) mainly resembles a badger’s Face. The body and face is free of wool and white in colour, the fleece is soft, firm and close. Parts of the sheep which are black include the inside of the small ears, stripes above the eyes and a black band running from the chin under the belly to the tip of the tail. The tail is long and set high on the rump with a white surrounding. The hair above the nose and the nose itself are black too. The markings on the predominantly black legs are clearly defined in white, grey or light tan stripes.
The Torwen (Welsh for white belly) has a body and face which is free of wool and dark black or brown in colour. The fleece is soft, firm and close. The lower jaw should be white with this coloured area extending down the throat. Distinct white stripes run along the eyes towards the nose and the small ears have a dark outer colour and contrasting lighter interior. The wool lining the belly is white and the tail is long, being dark in colour and set high on the rump. The underside of the tail must be white to the tip and the black legs are clearly defined with tan stripes.
For both sub-types, if horns are present (Rams only) these are darkly coloured and have a distinct spiral shape. The breed is known for producing strong lambs, milk, wool and high quality meat which is succulent, fine textured and of excellent flavour.
What is my history?
The breed’s old name of “Defaid Idloes” indicates an early existence as St. Idloes was a 7th century saint. In the Mid 1970’s a small group of farmers in mid Wales who kept a few Badger Face sheep began breeding the sheep and went onto form the Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep Society in November 1976. This is the point at which the breed was first officially recognised.
Why am I forgotten?
Today, the majority of Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep are bred throughout Wales, however, due to the popularity of the breed, they have extended into most parts of the UK. Although luckily not classified as rare, this native breed has unusual characteristics. Many pedigree flocks are relatively small, mostly kept by smallholders for their unusual and different markings and their easy management. This results in low numbers of lambs brought to commercial markets where they are mainly overlooked for the more commercial breeds. Hopefully through the Ark of Taste programme this unique breed will be recognized for it’s excellent flavour and make it a viable product to support these small – scale producers.
Don’t lose me… cook me!