Other common names: Defaid Mynydd Duon
Black Welsh Mountain Sheep are a small, hardy, dual purpose type of Welsh Mountain Sheep.
According to the The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "The Black Welsh Mountain is the only completely black breed of sheep in Britain. It was developed in the mountains of Wales from black sheep that occurred in the Welsh Mountain breed, which was white. About a century ago, Welsh shepherds began to breed the black sheep together, also selecting for a finer fleece and improved body conformation. The resulting breed, called Black Welsh Mountain, was recognized in 1922 with the establishment of the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Society."
Appearance / health:
Black Welsh Mountain Sheep are small to medium in size. Rams have attractive horns that curl around the ears, while ewes are polled. The black wool is short, thick, and densely stapled.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
natural resistance, marginal pasture, excellent mothering instincts, rough grazing, smaller sized breed
Black Welsh Mountain Sheep for Luck
The black genetics of this breed exist in every herd of Welsh Mountain Sheep, so if you keep these sheep, every generation you will get black individuals. Apart from coloration they are almost identical in terms of temperament and hardiness to the standard white Welsh Mountain sheep.
Known in Wales simply as 'defaid duon' (black sheep), there are many songs about them from the 18th century onwards. Traditionally they were kept in flocks as a marker and a way of identifying the owner. The number of black sheep marking out who owned the flock. Black sheep are also easier to spot in the snow.
They do have a peculiarity in that their fleece is very dense and much shorter than the white type. So dense in fact tat it can be hard to force your fingers down to the skin. Because of this the fleece has been much in demand by cottage and small-scale spinning industries. This was the main reason that this black-fleeced variant was isolated and developed into its own breed. It's also why the black trait still survives even in white Welsh Mountain flocks. The rams have the classic curly horns that are traditionally made into shepherds' crooks.
There is also the fact that black animals are deemed lucky, particularly in West Wales (black cats, black cattle and black sheep). So to have black sheep in your flock has long been deemed lucky. I even know some mountain farmers who will give you a black ewe 'for luck' when you purchase a flock from them or if you over-winter their ewes on lowland farms.
Possibly because of this the black sheep have tended to get more attention than their white counterparts and this may explain why it is commonly held that the black Welsh mountain sheep are not as skittish or afraid of humans; simply because people interact more with them.
The black fleeces also make these a breed of choice for smallholders and those seeking a small pet herd.
Like all mountain and hill sheep they are excellent mothers, are very low maintenance (they can survive on the poorest grazing and fodder) and are extremely hardy. Though they are a meat and wool breed, due to their comparative rarity there is a tendency to keep them in the flock and only the surplus ram lambs are sold. As a result they invariably end-up as semi-pets, even within large flocks..
From DLlE Sep 15 2012 9:40AM
BWM - Hardy!
BWM sheep are extremely hardy. We've enjoyed their health and vigor and excellent mothering instincts. They are great for beginning sheep owners as they are on the smaller side. In addition, they retain the natural instinct to lift their tails when defecating so do not require docking. Rams have beautiful sets of fully curled horns; aggressive rams should be watched carefully and they can still pack a solid punch despite being a smaller sized breed.
BWM meat is very mild, even in older animlas normally called "mutton." However, they are on the smaller size so there is less yeild. They do great on even marginal pasture and without grain inputs, so they cost less to keep. Definitely a nice breead for a small farm or family homestead..
From Maggie Mae Farm Mar 22 2012 1:38PM