Exmoor Horn sheep are an ancient breed indigenous to Exmoor. The remains of similar sheep have been found amongst the detritus of Roman encampments on the North Devon coast. Although farmed commercially, they are a minority breed and are classed as “at risk” since 95% of the breeding stock is within the moorland areas of Devon and West Somerset. They are one of the few hill breeds with a relatively fine fleece, and with a good staple length. Unusually, both males and females are horned.
Scientific studies have shown that Exmoor Horns are genetically adapted to their environment. They are tough, hardy sheep, able to withstand high rainfall with minimal foot trouble. They are very protective mothers, good milkers, and able to thrive on what would otherwise be considered as poor herbage. An Exmoor Horn ewe, though docile and easy to contain, will look you straight in the eye. It is this irascible, defiant grumpiness which ensures their survival under adverse conditions, wool with attitude you might say. They are long-lived and produce high quality finished lambs.
More recently, when crossed with a Blue Faced Leicester ram, the ewe makes an excellent Exmoor Mule for use with a terminal sire, and has a high lambing percentage. In common with the Exmoor pony and the wild red deer, Exmoor Horn sheep played a role in creating our familiar Exmoor landscape, and they are an intrinsic part of it. They are now recognised as a valuable asset in grazing environmentally sensitive areas.
So here we have a versatile upland sheep for conservation grazing which produces well-flavoured lamb and mutton, makes good cross-bred ewe, and in addition grows good quality fleece. As well as having a long history, this is a sheep for the future.
See also http://www.exmoorhornbreeders.co.uk for more information about our sheep,