Portland Sheep

Portland Sheep

What are my special features?

The Portland Sheep is a small animal, the average adult ewe weighing 38-40 kg, compared with 60-80+ kg in a commercial breed. It is an attractive, hardy, thrift grazing sheep, ideal for smallholders. An important quality of the breed is the ability to lamb out of season at any time of the year.

Portland Sheep produce high-quality meat with a fine texture and excellent flavour. The special flavour of the meat is due to the long time it takes for the sheep to mature and need for the meat to be hung for a longer time period in order to enhance the flavour and tenderness. Due to the breed being naturally fine and lean, the meat needs careful butchering to present it at its best. The meat benefits well from slow cooking.

What is my history?

Portland sheep are one of the oldest sheep breeds in the UK. The breed originated on the Island of Portland. The sheep resisted breeding development attempts and remained isolated. During the early 1990’s sheep numbers declined due to competition with other breeds and populations left the island. Numbers have now been re-introduced to the islands.

Why am I forgotten?

A key problem for survival of the breed is the lack of numbers. Unlike most breeds whose ewes routinely produce twins, the Portland ewe produces only one lamb per season. Portland lambs also need a longer time to finish (to become mature enough for slaughter), which is not always desirable for farmers.

It is difficult to keep the sheep on the Island today as grazing is beset with difficulties such as public footpaths and the spread of scrub (e.g. gorse, bracken and brambles) which reduces available grass.

Don’t lose me… cook me!


Product Category:

Breeds

Area of production:

Portland Island, Dorset

Slow Food UK Contact: 

arkoftaste@slowfood.org.uk

Producers:

Meerhay Manor

Steeptonbill Farm

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