tell me all about soay sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Ang in AZ, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Ang in AZ

    Ang in AZ Active Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    I need any and all information anyone can give me regarding these sheep. I have small children and will be in the White Mountains of AZ. Would these be OK for a novice?

    Thank You :)

  2. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Sorry I don't know anything about them but heres what I found on the website. Great website!!

    The Soay have been called the only living example of the small, primitive sheep which inhabited the British Isles before the coming of the Norsemen and the Romans. These sheep were numerous before the time of the Roman occupation. Their name is derived from the island of Soay off the coast of Scotland.

    The largest number of this breed are now found on Hirta which is one of the island of the St. Kilda group. In 1932 this island was evacuated and, in 1932, 107 Soay sheep (20 rams, 44 ewes, 22 ram lambs and 21 ewe lambs) were brought from the island of Soay and released.

    The Soay are small framed, good legs and a fleece varying from light to dark brown and sheds naturally in the summer. The males of this breed are horned and the females may be either polled or horned. The fleece is remarkable fine and, in contrast to mouflon, the inner fleece is highly developed and it is difficult to distinguish a outer coat. This is a clear indication that the Soay are indeed the product of a breed domesticated in prehistoric times. It is in many ways remarkable to note the extent to which the outer coat has been removed, especially considering their years of feral existence. The breed also lacks the flocking instinct of many breeds. Attempts to work them using sheep dogs result in a scattering of the group.

    The fleece is shed each spring and is used for hand knitting yarns. The wool quality is 44's to 50's, fleece weight is 3 to 5 pounds (1.5-2.25 kg) and staple length is 5 to 15 cm.

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Ang check the sheep board directory for Soay as a breed of the month, its linked there. Of course it never hurts to ask for fresh imput too!
  4. ovsfarm

    ovsfarm Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 13, 2003
    Soays are great for beginners! I have a small flock of them and am very pleased. We are having a mild winter here in Ohio this year. Today when I went out to feed, I was one ewe short of a flock so I went around the barn to see where she was. Yep, lambed out there in the pasture with absolutely no help from me. The lamb was about two hours old and doing fine, just about able to outrun dh and me already!

    My only caution is that there are always trade offs. With primitive breed sheep you get great health and self preservation traits. Unfortunately they are rather flighty and not extremely people oriented. That said, one of my twelve sheep is a real sweetie and loves to be petted. The rest were pretty standoffish but have really come around this winter.

    Gotta go, time to put dinner on the table. Feel free to email me if you have specific questions.

    Ohio Valley Soays